Category Archives: tenure

John Yoo, the Protest and the issue of his teaching at Berkeley

This past Saturday, May 17th, the UC Berkley Law School held it’s graduation ceremony. It was attended by over 50 active and very vocal protesters. Most were dressed in prison orange and many were holding signs or reenacting various Guantanamo torture scenes for the graduates and their family members.

As someone that opposes torture as described in the Geneva Convention, Common Article 3, I find Yoo’s logic frightening and disgusting. My motto when it comes to treating people is this: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Its friggin simple really, I don’t want American military personnel to be tortured so why in the blue hell would I accept my own government doing it, with obvious glee in some cases. But I digress.

Saturday’s protest was well-planned and frankly well funded. They flew a plane continuously over the proceedings with a sign that read:

Shame on Yoo & UC-End Torture

Yoo did not attend the ceremony. He had announced this previously as a matter of fact, but many of the protesters said it didn’t matter, it was still a great opportunity to get their message out. I support them on that issue.

What I have a problem with, besides Yoo’s involvement in BushCo’s administration is his teaching our next generation of lawyers. I hope, indeed I pray, that all of his students abhor him and what he stands for; a neoconservative individual with very few morals and incredibly low standards on the issues of equality, due process and human rights.

Yet, the man has every right to teach, he is after all, tenured. There is also another reason he should be allowed to teach, as much as it pains me to say; Academic Freedom. Christopher Edley, the Dean of Berkley’s Law School is an honorable man. He has worked for presidents and he currently advises Obama. His politics are liberal and yet his memo addressing the Yoo teaching issue is very spot-on when it comes to the basic tenant of why Yoo should be allowed to continue teaching at Berkley. A school he has been teaching at since 1993 and received tenure in 1999. From Dean Edley’s infamous memo on John Yoo:

There are important questions about the content of the Yoo memoranda, about tortured definitions of “torture,” about how he and his colleagues conceived their role as lawyers, and about whether and when the Commander in Chief is subject to domestic statutes and international law. We press our students to grapple with these matters, and in the legal literature Professor Yoo and his critics do battle. One can oppose and even condemn an idea, but I do not believe that in a university we can fearfully refuse to look at it. That would not be the best way to educate, nor a promising way to seek deeper understanding in a world of continual, strange revolutions.

Yoo also enjoys First Amendment rights and the most ironic of all, Due Process as well. So while we really have no conceivable reason to conclude he should be unceremoniously dumped at UC Berkley, we have every reason to wish some judge and jury somewhere would convict him and his BushCo employers of high crimes and misdemeanors. Only then could Mr. You be run out of Berkley’s Law School on a proverbial rail. Again from Dean Edley’s memo:

Assuming one believes as I do that Professor Yoo offered bad ideas and even worse advice during his government service, that judgment alone would not warrant dismissal or even a potentially chilling inquiry. As a legal matter, the test here is the relevant excerpt from the “General University Policy Regarding Academic Appointees,” adopted for the 10-campus University of California by both the system-wide Academic Senate and the Board of Regents:

Types of unacceptable conduct: … Commission of a criminal act which has led to conviction in a court of law and which clearly demonstrates unfitness to continue as a member of the faculty. [Academic Personnel Manual sec. 015]

There, in a nutshell, is what would be needed by the Dean to dump John Yoo. So the goal should be, for everyone that despises torture, to see Mr. Yoo tried and convicted in a court of law somewhere on our planet.

And frankly, I think getting canned by UC Berkley would be the least of Mr. Yoo’s problems if the situation named above finally happened to his smarmy ass. Only then will UC Berkley be free to fire that fuckwit and remove law students from his sphere of influence.

Crossposted at UnCapitalist Journal