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Shapiro Freaks Out Over UCLA Law Chair

Shapiro Freaks Out Over UCLA Law Chair March 1, 2007

I’ve been waiting for this ever since the announcement last week that a $1 million donation to the UCLA Law School would fund the creation of a chair in sexual orientation law; you just knew the religious right was going to freak out about it and entirely miss the point. Sure enough, here comes Ben Shapiro, a UCLA grad and Robert Bork wannabe, to throw his predictable fit about it. Some of the statements in this article are absolutely laughable, starting with this incoherent paragraph:

A conservative author and alumnus of the University of California in Los Angeles says he’s not surprised his alma mater will soon be home to America’s first endowed academic chair in sexual orientation law. UCLA’s law school has accepted a donation of more than $1 million from a homosexual couple to help fund the research of an endowed professorship in a field of study probing the legal aspects and implications of sexual orientation.


To fund “the research of an endowed professorship”? No, they’re actually funding the endowed professorship, or part of it. The donation was not nearly enough money to actually fund a new hire, all it does is fund a title, as Eugene Volokh, who teaches at that law school, notes:

Note that $1 million isn’t enough to add a whole new faculty position: The money will just result in the creation of a title for a worthy academic, and the money will either be used for general law school programs, or specially routed to programs and research related to the subject matter.

Volokh says he expects the title to be given to Bill Rubenstein, already at UCLA and already one of the nation’s foremost experts on sexual orientation law. But what’s funny to me is that the religious right thinks anything that even mentions sexual orientation is part of the “gay agenda” and thus must be stopped. The reality, of course, is that whether you’re for or against homosexuality or for or against any number of legal proposals that involve the issue, sexual orientation is a growing aspect of the legal field. Volokh rightly notes:

I’m naturally delighted that the school has gotten the donation, that my colleague will get a well-deserved honor, and that sexual orientation law — an obviously important subject, given the range of legal questions (sodomy laws, substantive due process, marriage, choice of law, employee benefits, child custody law, wills and trusts law, tax law, don’t ask/don’t tell, and so on) in which sexual-orientation-and-the-law questions arise — is being studied in the legal academy generally and at my institution in particular.

Recognizing the undeniable fact that there are large range of legal issues that involve sexual orientation does not require taking any particular position on those issues. Regardless of one’s position on gay marriage or sodomy laws, these are important and pressing issues in the legal system and, thus, some legal scholars, like Rubenstein and Dale Carpenter, are going to focus their attention on them. That they now have a title representing that focus of their legal research is hardly a part of advancing the “gay agenda”, it’s just a recognition that this is one of the innumerable sub-specialties in legal scholarship.

But there’s more blather to come, like this:

Typical academics on liberal U.S. college campuses “believe that, essentially, homosexuality is the same as race and that gender is the same as race, meaning that gender is irrelevant and there’s no real difference between men and women,” the author explains. “So [according to this view], if a man decides to marry a man, that’s okay, and if a man decides to marry a woman, that’s okay,” he says.

This is a rather ridiculous straw man. Quick, name me one human being on the entire freaking planet who actually believes that there’s “no real difference between men and women.” I’ll give you a minute to come up with one. Hell, I”ll give Shapiro the rest of his life to come up with one and he won’t. No one believes such a thing. We may disagree on what precisely those differences are and on which differences are relevant in which context, but no one in the world believes that there are no differences between men and women. And even if they did, it would have nothing to do with the question of whether it’s “okay” to marry someone of the same sex. There are huge differences between individual men and other individual men, and likewise among women, too. That has nothing to do with the question of whether one should or shouldn’t be gay.

Shapiro says the people who are pushing sexual orientation law as a separate branch of law believe homosexual “marriage” and adoption should be legal across the board and that homosexuality is not morally inferior to heterosexuality.

More idiocy. Having a chair endowed for the study of this issue doesn’t make it a “separate branch of law”. It’s just one of the hundreds of issues on which one might specialize as a legal scholar. All this statement really means is “those people disagree with me.” Well yes, Ben, they do. Get over it.

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