Law professor sues his students

Richard Peltz, a specialist in media and First Amendment law at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, says he feels like a pariah after two students active in the school’s Black Law Students Association made “false accusations of racism” about him. Civil libertarian Harvey Silverglate, often quoted on the subject of campus free speech, contends that even if Peltz is correctly characterizing the students’ talk about him, a lawsuit is the wrong way to proceed. (Above the Law, Apr. 29; Michelle Hillen, “Experts watch as professor sues students”, Arkansas Online, Apr. 27). More: Bainbridge, Althouse, Caron (rounding up links).

9 Comments

  • Students are customers of the law school. Did the professor inform the law school of the hostile environment created by any student/customer? Did the law school have an opportunity to end the hostile work environment allegedly created by its student/customer?

    If the school failed to act after knowledge of the hostile remarks, it gets sued. See, in employment law, the malfeasor does not get named in a claim, only the employer. I would like a link to the lawsuit complaint.

  • I agree with Supremacy Claus. It’s bad for business when you sue customers. He might have a legitimate claim, but pursuing that claim might wreck his career. I’d just chalk it up to kids being stupid and get on with life.

  • I found a business in the phone book, and I let the proprietor of the business pull some teeth and put several thousand dollars worth of things in my mouth; because he was a licensed dentist. I was the customer of his medical school. The state and future clients are the customers of law schools. Students are customers only in a trivial sense; otherwise it would be impossible for students to ever fail.

    From the Arkansas Online link, it is clear that this case involves more than a routine “free speech” issue. Free speech allows one guy to praise affirmative action and another to denounce it. Calling a teacher a racist in the context of this case goes beyond free speech and says, in effect, that the teacher should be denied his free speech rights altogether. To see this point, replace race by pedophilia.

  • “Calling a teacher a racist in the context of this case goes beyond free speech and says, in effect, that the teacher should be denied his free speech rights altogether.”

    No, calling someone a racist is ALSO engaging in free speech. The problem here is the current regime that shuts down the free speech of supposed racists, not those who fling the accusation.

    “To see this point, replace race by pedophilia.”

    Yes, and NAMBLA still exists, as advocating the legalization of something, even something that the rest of us find abhorrent and evil, is still a simple exercise in free speech.

    “Students are customers only in a trivial sense; otherwise it would be impossible for students to ever fail.”

    The other “customers” you mention aren’t paying for anything and have no relation with the school. The students are paying to receive certified instruction and certified testing of their knowledge. The school is providing it to them. The students are the law school’s customers – indeed, their ONLY customers.

  • free speech comes from the 1st amendment, which also guarantees the right to file a lawsuit. it’s about time that someone stands up to these shakedown tactics. this guy is standing up for himself and the top students in the school, who also were targeted by the shakedown.

  • This is one of the rare occasions in which I allow one of my personal political agendas (fighting PC) to trump my other (fighting overlawyering).

    I say, go man go!

    The fact is that an accusation of racism IS a career-wrecker in this day and age (never mind how often it’s alleged, never mind that nobody has a working definition of ‘racist’, etc.) It’s the new McCarthyism: simply say the word, and ye shall be disappeared. Minority groups know the radioactive power of this accusation, and frequently use it to get their way, whether justified or not.

    And there is an absolute imbalance on free speech here: a white professor can’t simply say “hey, I’ve got my free speech and you’ve got yours”. This one isn’t live and let speak. The ‘racist’ accusation is very intensely tortious. It really doesn’t even refer to a particular view on racial issues, but rather translates as “terrible, evil, ignorant person.” Part of me is reluctant to elevate it by suing over it, but there may be no other choice. If society is going to treat ‘racism’ as the worst possible offense, abusive allegations have to be remedied.

  • It’s funny how everyone on this site just assumes that this man has been abused because he said so. Here’s a link to a more “informed” article that contains many comments that a student (paying thousands of dollars)should not have to tolerate. If wants to make hate speeches then fine…but NOT fine in the classroom. He should do that on his own time and not on the very students’ he’s insulting dime!

    http://www2.arkansasonline.com/news/2008/apr/27/experts-watch-professor-sues-students-20080427/?print

  • It’s funny how everyone on this site just assumes that this man has been abused because he said so.

    Was there a reason for you to post an article that was already linked and cited in the originating post?

    There are a variety of opinions of the professor and his actions within this thread. Please read them before making sweeping generalizations.

    Also, please take a moment to review the very article that you posted to show that the professor was in error in making his claims. In it you will find this statement:

    “At that meeting, Mr. Buchanan (President of the W. Harold Flowers Law Society, the state’s black law association) primarily lambasted me because I was not going to fire Prof. Peltz,” {law school Dean Chuck) Goldner wrote in an undated memo. “I replied that there was no basis to fire Prof. Peltz, that there was no basis for disciplining Prof. Peltz, that I had discussed his teaching of a particular class with Prof. Peltz and that was all I intended and needed to do.”

    If wants to make hate speeches then fine…but NOT fine in the classroom.

    First, please define “hate speech.”

    Secondly, professor seemed to make some comments that were contrary to the opinions of the students in his class. Is disagreeing with a person automatically “hate speech?”

    If students or people don’t like or agree with the outcome of a disciplinary hearing, does that give them the right to make up lies about the person who was involve in the disciplinary process?

    If you want the professor to stop making statements that people disagree with, shouldn’t we also be demanding that the students and others stop lying about the professor?