Israel Reflections 2019: Let’s Do This!

Hi blogosphere–it is my pleasure to start us off with blogging about this year’s spring break trip. We had 40, yes 40!, law students on this trip with four faculty. And it was a great group.

Per usual, we started off on Friday night with a lookout over Jerusalem where we all celebrated our safe and easy arrival.

View overlooking the City of Jerusalum with homes and low buildings in the distance and a large golden domed building. Then we visited the Western Wall to see the prayers at Shabbat. This can be both beautiful and unsettling, as men and women are separated. And, as we had arrived on International Women’s Day, the difference was even more notable.

As student Madison Mears noted, “The [smaller] women’s side was crowded and silent; the only noise filling the women’s area came from the prayers, songs, and chants of the men from the other side of the fence…To experience that dichotomy of expression and repression, left me walking away with more questions…” This impact of religion and gender continued to be a theme throughout the week as was the fact that we often left with more questions than when we came.

The Israeli flag flies in a courtyard outside of a brick building. Student Micaela Bear also noted how the separation of the sexes led to questions by her classmates but also wrote, “As a Jewish student at a Jesuit law school, it was hard to fathom that my cohorts of different religions would feel such a special connection to a Jewish holy site. It filled my hear with warmth to experience the start of Shabbos with Jews of all denominations, but also to share this experience with my classmates.”

I felt the same way–what a privilege to be able to share a place I love with a new group of students!

Cross-posted at Indisputably.org

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The Nanny State

Ideological rhetoric not only lionizes heroes but also deplores villains.  It tells us what we should like and what we should hate.  Neoliberal ideologues, in this regard, typically praise deregulation, privatization, and the market economy while condemning the “nanny state” as especially villainous.  If we reflect critically on the nanny-state rhetoric, we might be able to limit the persuasiveness of one of neoliberalism’s most-favored notions and in the process recognize who is most powerful in our society.

For starters, casting anything related to a nanny in a negative light is curious.  Popular culture, after all, includes an abundance of perky, resourceful, and indomitable nannies, all of whom are devoted to the well-being of those under their care.  Thoughts of Mary Poppins, Fraulein Maria in “The Sound of Music,” and Nanny McPhee win a warm spot in just about everybody’s hearts.  I always enjoyed the resourcefulness of Fran Fine, who was played by the feisty Fran Drescher in the popular 1990s sitcom “The Nanny,” while my favorite boyhood nanny was the large anthropomorphic dog Nana in the Peter Pan stories.  She wore a charming bonnet, built castles out of toy blocks, and lovingly made the beds for the Darling children.

How and why does the image of a nanny become a negative one for the neoliberal ideologue?

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Gratitude for Intellectual Diversity

Red and blue Rock'em-Sock'em Robots facing offI believe intellectual diversity is vital to the development of the legal community—in law school and in practice. I also believe our individual mindsets—as lawyers, professors, or law students—aggregate and have an outsized effect on the direction of Wisconsin’s and America’s laws. Finally, in the vein of free-market competition, I believe we should each endeavor to challenge our mindsets and step out of any conscious or unconscious echo chambers of legal thought. With these ideas in mind, let’s spice things up with a rather normative post.

Let’s start with a somewhat lighthearted contention. Math is not evil, mysterious, or to be avoided at all costs. On the contrary, we should challenge ourselves to use it appropriately and effectively when an opportunity arises to do so. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good “lawyers are bad at math” joke, but maybe we shouldn’t perpetuate that mindset. If you can use a standard normal distribution or some Bureau of Labor Statistics data to make a point, go for it. Words may be our specialty, but numbers should be in the tool bag as well.

That was a good warm up, so let’s try something a little more controversial.

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