A professor at Wake Forest Law School was chastised by the school’s dean after he read a case footnote that contained the N-word during a classroom discussion of the famous First Amendment case, Brandenburg v. Ohio.
According to a report by The College Fix, Professor Michael Curtis is facing criticism this week after students reported that he read the n-word out loud as included in a Brandenburg v. Ohio footnote. The case considered whether or not a Ku Klux Klan leader could be punished under the law for his use of racially-charged language.
The case, which is a staple in constitutional law classes around the country, is considered a landmark case in First Amendment jurisprudence. The Brandenburg case established that the government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless that speech is directed at producing “imminent lawless action” and is likely to produce such action.
In an email to the law school community, Dean Jane Aiken chastised Curtis for failing to skip over the word. “Confronting America’s discriminatory past through case law can be challenging enough without hearing your professor read that word aloud in a class,” Aiken wrote in the email. “Words matter and the consequences of words (not just the intentions behind words) matter.”
Aiken claimed that Curtis told her privately that he regretted his decision to say the word out loud during the classroom discussion. In a short apology statement, Curtis said that he “was saddened to learn of and I regret the deep pain that hearing the words read aloud caused some of our students.”
This isn’t the first time that a professor has come under fire for quoting a racial slur. Breitbart News reported in August 2019 that a professor at the New School in Manhattan had been investigated by administrators after reading the N-word during a study of author James Baldwin.