A law professor at the University of California Los Angeles has been forced to apologize for, and withdraw, an exam question that asked constitutional law students to draft a memo outlining the arguments for prosecuting Michael Brown’s stepfather for incitement after he yelled “Burn this bitch down” upon hearing the grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of the Ferguson, MO teenager.
The question of incitement is a standard topic in classes on the First Amendment, and law students are typically asked to make arguments on either side of difficult controversies. However, the exam question was evidently too sensitive for UCLA law students. Law students elsewhere, including Harvard and Columbia, have been given extra time for exams this semester because of supposed emotional difficulty associated with recent events.
Law blogger Elie Mystal slammed the professor, because “this particular question places an unfair burden on African-American students to emotionally detach from still-recent acts of essentially legalized terrorism against the African-American community.” She added: “Look, maybe you think its a fair question. But the point here is that a lot of black people didn’t.” She also suggested that UCLA’s law school has a history of racial insensitivity.
The professor wrote an apology to his students via e-mail, according to Fox News: “I clearly underestimated and misjudged the impact of this question on you. I realize now that it was so fraught as to have made this an unnecessarily difficult question to respond to at this time. I am sorry for this…the recent disturbing events and subsequent decisions in Ferguson and New York make this subject too raw to make it a useful opportunity.”
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak