Monday, August 17, 2009

Big Brother is Watching

I was rather disturbed to come into the building this afternoon and notice the bright yellow signs plastered across the hallways. The school has always been rather strict about where signs may be posted. But a notice that all persons entering the building are subject to search?

My guess is that this is related to the Yoo prank. If that's the case, I'm extremely disappointed in the administration by dealing with the matter in such an authoritarian way. But since there's no indication of why the signs were posted, I'd rather not go there.

Instead, I'll simply question whether it is a) appropriate b) desirable or c) sensible to post signs like this without either an explanation or an email or other written notice stating that this is school policy.


After running into some of the protesters when I went down the hill to get some lunch, I'm even more sure that this was really the wrong way to approach the situation. A brief discussion left me convinced that what they're looking for is attention. And like the three year old child throwing a tantrum in a grocery store, the best way to deal with it is to ignore the behavior until the child calms down enough to talk rationally. Uniformed police officers and a mob scene just reward the drama.


Blogger Armen said...

Hmm, you shouldn't forget the draconian policies at courthouses entrances.

Or the Fascist surveillance that is e-mail archiving.

Or the Stalinist eavesdropping by your fellow students that causes rumors to spread like the swine flu.

Personally, I'd pack an assault rifle, anti-Obamacare signs, and protest the loss of our freedoms...stat!

8/17/2009 2:39 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I'm sitting inside looking out on a fairly tame group of Yoo protesters right now, so clearly the school's fears of disruption are not unwarranted.

On the other hand, the signs bring an Uzi to a knife fight. Berkeley is authorized to kick these people out if they're being disruptive, regardless of whether they've posted a notice. We know it, and they know it. So what useful purpose does the notice serve?

8/17/2009 2:39 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I'm pretty sure these signs were posted in response to the planned Yoo protest today, and I'd imagine they'd be gone soon.

8/17/2009 2:40 PM  
Blogger Toney said...

I wonder if vocal chords or clothing with slogans are allowed....

8/17/2009 2:40 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Further proving the signs' irrelvance, there is a quite loud "FIRE JOHN YOO!" chant going on right now in the hallway outside 110. It strikes me as quite disruptive, and I'm two rooms down. But they haven't been forced outside. So why the signs again?

In related news, if you were a hippie and you knew there was a whole B.O. stereotype, wouldn't you go out of your way to smell fresh and clean? Why does this not happen in reality?

8/17/2009 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, Armen, I suppose you'd advocate x-ray machines and armed guards at Boalt's entrances. That's what they do in courthouses, after all.

8/17/2009 3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't have minded x-ray machines the last three years since Trustafarian was loose amongst us.

8/17/2009 4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in Yoo's class today and I found it quite disrupting, for what it's worth. I was surprised to learn that anyone may go into a UC classroom and listen. However, it is official policy to kick out people who try to disrupt. The protesters today were certainly trying to disrupt the class.

8/17/2009 5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of the protesters were arrested

They were very disruptive and rude. This was not the time and place. And quite frankly, I appreciate those signs if they help protect the civil atmosphere of class (though they didn't seem to be doing much). I really hope this does not continue for the rest of the semester.

8/17/2009 6:59 PM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

The subject to search thing actually seems kind of bizarre. What would be the standard? Reasonable articulable suspicion? Probable cause? I doubt there's a law making you subject to search just for stepping onto a law school campus.

8/17/2009 7:11 PM  
Blogger Boris said...

While I generally agree that ignoring attention-whores such as these protesters is the right way to go, if they're disrupting classes that doesn't seem like an option.

8/17/2009 9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathleen: I don't think they need to articulate a standard. They would probably argue that since the signs were posted at all the entrances to the law school, anybody entering would face the choice to either a) turn away and not being subject to search or b) enter the law school and thereby consent to a search of their person.

8/17/2009 11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't agree with the tortures, but these annoying protesting bastards make me disagree with them even more. i was in prof. yoo's class yesterday and it is just not the time or place to be staging these protests. it disrupts not only the classroom, but the entire law school as well.
these hippie asswipes get absolutely no sympathy from me. they're ruining all of our experiences and i believe it is their exact intention to do so, in hopes of pressuring us to fire prof. yoo. we must stand together as a unified campus and not let this tyrannical b.s. pressure/extort us.
in case you can't tell, i'm still stewing. it's bad enough they ruin each and every one of our graduation ceremonies. now this?
there is a time and place for free speech. disrupting our classrooms is not one of them!

8/18/2009 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Boalt fires John Yoo, then what?

That doesn't change the fact that people were/are tortured. That doesn't change Yoo's memos. That doesn't change American policy. That doesn't change anything.

These protesters aren't results-oriented. If they really want to see change, they are at the wrong place. Boalt cannot do anything that would change torture. Boalt firing Yoo wouldn't put him in jail. He'd simply find another job elsewhere.

What good does firing John Yoo do exactly?

The protesters cannot answer that.

Thus far John Yoo has not be convicted of any thing wrong. There is a big difference between being a shitty person that enables people to do bad bad things and being a criminal.

Do I think Yoo is a bad person? Sure. Do I think he should be fired because of that? No.

What happened to the rights of the accused (though he isn't even accused of anything here in the US)? What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

Just because you disagree with someone on a moral level doesn't mean that you should interrupt a class of students that don't agree with you.

The protesters seek to impose their morals and values on the entire law school. Isn't this the same thing that we chastise the Far Right and the Moral Majority for doing?

I for one don't want to live in a society where anyone is foisting their morals on to me, whether or not I agree with them.

Live and let live.

8/18/2009 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


It's hard to ignore the protesters when their shouting drowns out the professor.

And you completely failed to mention that the protesters were not just outside the building and not just outside the classrooms, at least one was INSIDE the classroom.

Being inside the classroom with the purpose of disrupting class is simply not okay.

I fully support the protesters, but being inside the classroom is simply not okay with me.

8/18/2009 10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love how when Berkeley Law students' personal space is invaded, their principles vis-a-vis free speech and right to assembly acquire sudden nuance.

8/18/2009 10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's probably because not all of us are Berkeley liberal wackos. Some of us are, as Palin would put it, "real Americans."

8/18/2009 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:32: no more nuance than the law typically gives them. INSIDE a classroom during an ongoing lecture is not a public forum that we hold open for free expression.

8/18/2009 11:41 AM  
Blogger priya said...

Additionally, what about the slippery slope argument. What happens to the tenure system if we fire John Yoo? Wasn't the point of the tenure system--allow academics to take risks. Yes John Yoo's memo apparently pushes the limits, but it still should fall in these limits at least as far as the university is concerned.

8/18/2009 1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's not even clear that he could be fired. presumably that's what DE looked into before announcing that statement about yoo. yoo could get injunctive relief if there wasn't any solid basis for firing him.

8/18/2009 1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The protesters did not "ruin" the 2009 graduation. They passed out ribbons... and some spoke through bull horns, it really wasn't "ruined" for anyone. - 2009 grad.

8/18/2009 9:13 PM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

Anon @ 11:48
Since the law school is a government actor, I don't think they can constitutionally impose a condition like that without a standard that satisfies both due process and the reasonableness standards of the Fourth Amendment.

8/19/2009 9:45 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Are you F*CKING kidding me? I really hope you're an undergrad or something.

8/19/2009 9:47 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

That or you've never attended a public school before.

8/19/2009 9:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I was rather disturbed to come into the building this afternoon and notice the bright yellow signs plastered across the hallways."

I was rather disturbed to log onto nuts and boalts and notice that Bekki was posting again.

8/19/2009 10:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathleen: My argument necessarily assumes that the law school IS a government actor, since the 4th amendment wouldn't apply otherwise.

However, consent is a completely valid defense to a sec. 1983 suit; and as Armen has so tactfully pointed out, we already have a diminished expectation of privacy in public schools (lockers, backpacks, persons).

8/20/2009 2:18 AM  

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