Emory Embroiled In Debate Over Law Professor’s Use Of Racial Slurs

Emory University University is now the focus of the national debate over the conflict between academic freedom and university rules against the use of racial slurs, even as part of academic work. Professor Paul Zwier is currently on suspension over he was accused of using the “n-word” in the course of a class and later in a meeting about the controversy. He first used the word to discuss who the word “negro” was likely used in a case as a sanitized version of the slur. Students complained and charges were brought, including an allegation that Zwier used the word again in an office discussion with a student on the incident. This month, a report from the Office of Equity and Inclusion that recommended Zwier be suspended for up to two more years due to his usage of the racial slur.

We have previously discussed these controversy over the use of the racial slur. In many cases, the word is used in in hypotheticals or as part of a course on hate speech. In other cases, it is part of a work of literature and the professor is simply reading the work or discussing its content. In my view such use is entirely a matter of free speech and academic freedom. In Minnesota, Augsburg University has reportedly stripped Professor Phillip Adamo of his directorship of the honors program after he used the n-word in a class discussion of a passage (using the word) from James Baldwin. In the meantime, at the University of Chicago (my alma mater) Professor Geoffrey Stone is under fire for the same alleged offense in a classroom. Unlike Augsburg, however, UChicago has continued its staunch defense of free speech and academic freedom in support of Stone. is refusing to disclose the fate of an embattled law professor who has faced repeated sanctions for twice referring to a racial slur over the past year.

Zwier has been fighting for his right to resume teaching. Emory has been less than open about its treatment of Zwier and the important issues of academic freedom raised in the controversy. He has been hit with a suspension from teaching and an exclusion for teaching any mandatory course. Students are petitioning to get him fired.

When a student came to Zwier’s office after the classroom usage of the term, Zwier used the word because it was used to label his own father who marched for civil rights during the desegregation movement. The student immediately complained to the law school.

In the petition,  the Emory Law Black Law Students Association
and Emory Law Student Bar Association demand Zwier’s termination, staing that “we cannot and will not tolerate such blatant disregard for our safety and emotional well-being.”

Emory could have used this case for a discussion of the protections afforded academic freedom and the countervailing interests of protecting students from offensive content. I have long been an advocate for both free speech and academic freedom. In this and other cases, I tend to defer to the academic if there is a good-faith justification for the use of the slur. I do not however believe that one should use such terms gratuitously or unnecessarily when they are not connected to a piece of literature or case or lesson plan. This is a painful and marginalizing terms for our students. The question comes down to one of content and academic purpose. That is why UChicago did the right thing in support Stone. Emory has raged all sides with its lack of clarity and standards in the controversy. Furthermore, the Senate Faculty appears cowed by the controversy in not demanding greater transparency and clarity.

74 thoughts on “Emory Embroiled In Debate Over Law Professor’s Use Of Racial Slurs”

  1. The lunacy rolls on. One state rep in the state I live in wants to ban balloons. Another wants to enter a bill that if you called someone a bitch, you could be fined and possible jail time. Soon we’ll all be living in convents and seminarys.

  2. You don’t need to go all the way back to Twain to find offensive but great literature.

    I don’t read like i used to, and the last book that kept my attention is one that I heard recommended a thousand times, and somehow when i finally got around to it I wasnt disappointed.

    Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer


    obviously, feminists probably don’t like this book, any more than the censors who banned it in 1934– if they bothered to read it much.

    oh, it has “ethnic hatred” in it too.

    George Orwell said of Miller:

    “Here in my opinion is the only imaginative prose-writer of the slightest value who has appeared among the English-speaking races for some years past. Even if that is objected to as an overstatement, it will probably be admitted that Miller is a writer out of the ordinary, worth more than a single glance; and after all, he is a completely negative, unconstructive, amoral writer, a mere Jonah, a passive acceptor of evil, a sort of Whitman among the corpses”

  3. a lawyer in the US who uses certain words can be disciplined on their license, even if the words are not in conjunction with legal activities. rpc 8.4

    those words certainly include the “N word” but I have seen actions which also discipline for “C#^t” and “ki&e” and ,… drum roll please….. horror of horrors…..


  4. I have friends and family who went to Emory. They have a strong acting/media major. Back in the 70’s, Emory was strong on free speech. Of course, most every college was back then. We are plummeting to hell.

  5. Gosh Professor Turley. Glad to be in this school and in your class. I am from Tartania. What do these folks mean to say when they say: The N-word? I’m not from around here. Do they refer to Nazis? Does that word defame Germans? I ask this in class and someone said to look up The German American Bund on Google. I am going to do so.
    When we talk about history we need to get to some true words of days of old. Back when knights were bold. And condoms were not invented. That is when they tied a sock…

    1. It’s good to know that you are aware of the rappers or Black folks feelings in regards to there N-word, I’ve been Black a long time and I don’t know anyone who gets a kick out of the u8sage of the N-word, thank yo.l idiot.

      1. They get a kick out of the “turmoil.” How long have you been an English speaker?

      1. Cindy:
        I once represented the head of the State Republican Party and chief of staff of a senior Democratic State senate leader at the same time. That’s not easy. I’ve represented judges’ kids, politicians and lots of cops. However my favorite client was Emmet Washington who I represented right out of law school. Emmet was in jail for failure to pay back child support for a child who was now 20 years old. He’d been there for 90 days and could never raise the bond which in VA equals the amount of the arrearage. He had another lawyer who quit on him and swore he wasn’t the father. I was court appointed. Emmet told me the “old judge” who died years before had exonerated him from paternity and it was all a big mistake. Emmet was old and tired and everyone just dismissed him. I did too. I knew Emmet because he worked for my grandfather sometimes at the store cleaning up. One day, I was talking to the clerk about the “old judge” and mentioned Emmet’s plea. She said there was nothing in the then new computer system about him but that the old warrants were in a municipal warehouse about 3 miles away. Suit and Florsheims and all I climbed in and around those dusty bankers boxes in dim light. Sure enough I found Emmet’s blue tri-folded warrant. Lo and behold it said Emmet wasn’t the father. I got him out that day. For ten years on my birthday, I got a homemade peach pie delivered to my office with a scrawled note that said “ Thanks Lawyer Mark.” It was the best peach pie I ever tasted. I brought one to his wake where I was the only white face among the few family and mourners. His daughter came up to greet me and before I could say anything she said, “you know my father prayed for you every Sunday.” I stammered something about that I needed and appreciated that but I was floored. I don’t remember what the Commonwealth paid me for that case but I owe it all back to them.

        1. mespo..fantastic story! What an experience…all the way through.
          May I say you really need to turn that into a short story …”Emmet’s Story”….in fact,with your writing prowess and experiences, you could do a compilation of short stories. I’m serious. Your history is too rich to have you not share it.
          Can’t wait to read it to the Mister! thank you!

          1. Cindy:
            Oh there’s tons more stories about abused kids whose abusers were sued; a fraud who sued my clients for defamation and got a dollar for his reputation (very QBVII) and rape “victims” who were revealed as more than willing by their own words. Crazy judges, sad kids abused by priests, honorable people who told the truth even though it hurt them or someone they loved. Felons I admired and pillars of society I despised. It’s been a good run and I’m sure might spur some interest but they’re like my kids. Bragging on them seems weird and a tad self-aggrandizing. They stand on their own. And like Lincoln I realize that “What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.”

            1. That was a nice way of putting it Mespo, & agree and have long used that logic, let the skunk tell his own story & defend it. It’s not my story after all.

              1. oky1….. ” it’s not my story after all”
                But when it is your story….you need to belt it out to the back row, imo.😊
                Some of our greatest books and films came from the personal experiences of the author/screenwriter.
                Any,way I just love great writing…..and when there’s history, too….it’s wonderful.

                1. Cindy Bragg – one of the things I learned in teaching was to make all stories “mine.”

                  1. Paul C…..I know I get over excited when I see such creativity in people. It’s a reflex that I immediately encourage them because I really would like for the talent to be shared and enjoyed..Girls in my generation were not encouraged AT ALL. (There were exceptions but not many). So much talent was thrown away!!!!…and when I taught, I vowed I would give opportunitites to my students and their natural creativity……

                2. Cindy, I really like you & Karen/gals, but it’s tough for me, I grew up working with a bunch of guys in the middle of the prairie cursing like sailor & the only talking back was literally the neighbouring Jackass 160 acres over also b*tching that it was 110 & hot as hell.

                  My dad/other older men said we can cuss out there but never around women.

                  But some of this news I want to cuss.

                  This is BS what they are trying to do against this teacher Mespo studied under, but next to nothing about some Dallas Tx Judge, of all places, a jury & a crazy ex wife ganging up on a 7 year twin boy & his dad to Chemical Castrate the kid, that can’t be undone as the Damage has already happened.

                  Cuss! Cuss! Double Cuss!

                  Anyway here is a new News Aggregator website that just started to counter the ongoing censorship.

                  The kid’s story is currently top left.

                  1. Oky1 – Tim Pool had a nice rant on this topic today. He did point out that the place the boy is going to is only going to evaluate him. I do not agree with the court, however.

                    1. Paul,

                      It’s among the worst kinds of Child Abuse by the Govt/ex wife there is.

                      Like the one Doc today said, that’s been deeply involved with that type freak show even said they need to wait until the kid is 21.

                      Sounds like common sense to me. I hope for the kids seek the dad is shape enough to gather a law firm for an appeal on the grounds of at least irreparable harm.

                      Another topic, has that lung docs meds helped your lungs.

                      I’ve been trying to rap things up here before the hard cold moves in, but I can tell a bit of it moved in this week. The lungs know.

                      On top of that my PC is hang up which mean I can’t post sometimes in a timely way.

                    2. Oky1 – do you have a cleaner for the computer, like Ccleaner (free). I try to remember to run that once a week and that helps. Also clean you caches out. That should speed your computer up.

                      Take care of yourself with the weather moving in. I remember those days when you were breathing ice. I am seeing the dr next month. Weather has broken here so it more comfortable. Thank you for asking.

                    3. CCleaner, custom

                      Revo Unistaller, also pick what you want to clean

                      Disk Cleaner from the Windows Start Menu

                      Delete any and all bloatware on Windows

                      For More Serious Clean:

                      Go into registry via typing regedit from Windows Run or Search Box….

                      Warning: Do not do this without a back-up, and a good configuration that you can fall back on…

                    4. Do NOT clean your registry unless you know what you’re doing, per the comment above.

                  2. Paul,

                    didn’t I read you live out in Arizona area.. where the air is drier?

                    We get everything here in OK, sometimes all in the same day. 😉

                    I’ve been trying to keep this PC going but my son says I need to up grade.

                    The thing I hate about that is I always seem to lose all my files & everything i blocked is unblocked.

                    General around the year end hoildays tech upgrades everything, so they may burn down another one. LOL 7, 8,9 10… burnt out pc’s, but who’s counting.

                    I should have just stuck with the 8 track tape player. At least it was on a loop.

                    1. Oky1 – the current humidity is 27%, however I have seen it as low as -1%. This is the time of year to come out, it is a one-week fall season, then we go directly into winter, which is gorgeous. If you decide to come out, let me know and we will hook up for coffee.

                      Look for deals on computers coming up for Black Friday. You can have Data Doctors transfer materials from one computer to another.

                    2. 1 more thing: You guys were speaking of Opera. It’s late but I heard today that South Park put together a really nice Opera. I meant to check it it.

                3. Cindy,

                  BTW: “It’s their story”

                  That kind of talk is for court like stuff.

                  Let them own their own story & I’ll own mine.

                  It’s like the JFK or 911 govt stories, hell it’s their story, let them explain to us how it could have happened like that.


              2. Mespo,

                Maybe that teacher needs to attack, attack, attack…. friend of court breif/ press release right now for the kid the Dallas judge/ex wife are getting ready to chemical castrate… go off on a press release about all the crap about using the n word in a proper contest but well over 50% of black babies never get out of the womb, without being killed by those deeply offended by the n word., etc…

            2. mespo…..i know what you’re saying..Maybe because I’m in Texas, but it doesn’t sound like bragging….sounds like story- telling………. you could use a nom de plume. 😊

          1. Lots of good people around in all shades. I detest activists because they refuse to see this obvious fact.

                1. Cindy Bragg – a couple of nights with warm milk and my bankie and I should be okay.

        2. mespo… Hubby loved the Emmet story and said that only a law degree can give you opportunities like that.

          I think the fact that you were fresh out of law school made it even more poignant.

          It’s an Atticus Finch story.

          1. Cindy:
            Sometimes things are meant to be. I had lots of time to rummage back then.

  6. “Emory University is a private institution that was founded in 1836.”

    – Wiki

    The right to private property is absolute and

    “…that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual.”

    – James Madison

    On private property, only the owner holds possession and determines its disposition; the owner may permit or deny any and all acts

    while “…every other individual…” including individuals from government are excluded from possessing or disposing of any individual’s

    property, constitutional statutes and agency regulations notwithstanding.

    On public property, freedom of speech is extant and immutable, constitutional statutes and agency regulations notwithstanding.

    1st Amendment

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of

    speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

  7. Ridiculous. It is difficult to discuss hate speech without referencing…hate speech.

    When I went to college, we were eager to be adults. I cannot imagine the shame of anyone demanding a teddy bear, or more gentle speech by a professor.

    Do these same students object to the existence of rap music? Movies? Music videos? Interviews? Because the N word is used in all of the above.

  8. When I was in law school, not that long ago, there were some law students who had a penchant for complaining about various professors for a variety of reasons. Strange, strange, strange.

    I never participated. I always thought these complaints were stupid, and never saw a reason or purpose for them. It was a complete utter waste of time.

    I also refused to participate in an anonymous complaint form/survey passed around in one class, I sat there drawing cartoon characters and turned it in. 😂. Hope thay professor enjoyed my Daffy Duck image.

    Moving on, I was proposition 2x by various groups of women, as a woman, to complain about professors for minor verbal infractions. I declined both of the 2x. Said I had to make sure I don’t get my 20th parking ticket. Ha-ha-ha. I’m sorry, that’s not funny. 😉

    I never understood why any student would want to complain about the professor’s language in their teaching style….unless it was egregious. Let’s be honest, I never saw anything even remotely close to that. I.e., drunken stupor of racial slurs Never happened.

    I think the students just wanted to be offended to be offended…probably bc they’re miserable ppl who hate their lives and want to make other pols lives miserable. Or its just the SJW superiority coming out.

    I could tell a lot of professors were uncomfortable lecturing, by their facial muscles, tone of voice, etc., always a dead give away. But I guess you can’t relax and have a good time at the podium, when you have students waiting for you to ‘slip up’ so to speak.

    And it’s like if you have a problem with what the professor said, talk about it class, raise your hand, raise the issue. Don’t sit there being so offended, and then go complain to an administrator later.

    An administrator, mind you, who wasn’t there, and it becomes and he said/she said game. And of course, it’s their job to make a safe environment for the students, but also to protect their school and the school’s assets……

  9. The question comes down to one of content and academic purpose.

    No. The question comes down to sickness and how we got here: academia, politics, public leaders, our civic discourse.

    You could help by addressing the content of our national character. Use could use your bully pulpit and remind your audience about our history, our roots and the Founding Fathers.

    The Founders stressed that a civic education required the teaching of religious values. Benjamin Rush wrote that “[t]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in RELIGION. Without this, there can be no virtue, and without virtue, there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.” He continued:

    The complaints that have been made against religion, liberty and learning, have been, against each of them in a separate state. Perhaps like certain liquors, they should only be used in state of mixture. They mutually assist in correcting the abuses, and in improving the good effects of each other. From the combined and reciprocal influence of religion, liberty and learning upon the morals, manners and knowledge of individuals, of these, upon government, and of government, upon individuals, it is impossible to measure the degrees of happiness and perfection to which mankind may be raised.

    John Adams wrote that a republic “is only to be supported by pure Religion or Austere Morals. Public Virtue cannot exist in a Nation without private [Virtue], and public Virtue is the only Foundation of Republics.”
    In his Farewell Address, issued before “his retirement to Mount Vernon, George Washington famously declared that “Religion and morality are indispensable supports” of “all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity”:

    In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labour to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion.

    All this was written, of course, in a day when education was generally not a function of the state, but of parents and churches—though it must be noted that even so adamant a separationist as Thomas Jefferson provided for clergymen on the faculty of his state-funded University of Virginia.”

    Excerpt From
    “Scalia Speaks” by Antonin Scalia

  10. When I initially read the article, I thought this was just another first year Snowflake reaction to their very limited life exposure. Then I understood that this was a law school with students who have no concept of the intellectual war waiting for them in the practice of law.

    Years ago I practiced criminal defense and labor/employment law in Chicago. These children will not last a week even if a law firm must hire them to satisfy some social obligation.

  11. Well, schools provide avenues for socially-sanctioned aggression in the play of status games. Serious pedagogues would not do this, but serious pedagogues are atypical if not rare in the administration of higher education. This is on you, Professor. If you’re not helping to repair the problem, you’re part of it.

  12. The root cause of this is a group of leftist prima donnas competing with each other to be the most pious liberal there is. And locus and mechanism of this self-righteousness contest unfortunately happens to be Professor Zwier. It would be someone else, had the professor not been available.

    Small minded people always have to have an enemy to provide them with an illusion of significance. This is a compelling reason never to lend them power or authority.

    1. Martin Luther King – Plagiarist, Philanderer, Unrepentant Sinner, Blasphemer, Fraud

      The Hebrew slaves were out of Egypt before the ink was dry on their release papers. The slaves in America did not have “vision,” acumen, gumption or Moses to execute similar righteous leadership in an exodus to “the promised land.” Most imprisoned convicts are overjoyed to immediately go home upon release. Lincoln knew that “discordant intermixture”** was impossible and Lincoln, perhaps ironically, held no love for the slaves in his opposition of slavery.*

      Oil and water do not mix. Emulsifiers are required to maintain temporary mixture. To maintain the mixture of races forced by communists in America, political emulsifiers are required including affirrmative action, quotas, welfare, food stamps, rent control, social services, forced busing, minimum wage, utility subsidies, WIC, TANF, HAMP, HARP, Dept.’s of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Labor, Energy, Obamacare, Obamaphones, Social Security, Social Security Disability, Social Security Supplemental Income, Medicare, Medicaid, “Fair Housing” laws, “Non-Discrimination” laws, etc.

      “If all earthly power were given me,” said Lincoln in a speech delivered in Peoria, Illinois, on October 16, 1854, “I should not know what to do, as to the existing institution [of slavery]. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, to their own native land.” After acknowledging that this plan’s “sudden execution is impossible,” he asked whether freed blacks should be made “politically and socially our equals?” “My own feelings will not admit of this,” he said, “and [even] if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not … We can not, then, make them equals.”

      – Abraham Lincoln

      “The influx of foreigners must, therefore, tend to produce a heterogeneous compound; to change and corrupt the national spirit; to complicate and confound public opinion; to introduce foreign propensities. In the composition of society, the harmony of the ingredients is all-important, and whatever tends to a discordant intermixture must have an injurious tendency.”

      – Alexander Hamilton

      “Why Oil and Water Don’t Mix”

      “Chemistry has tricks for getting oil and water to interact. For example, detergent works by acting as emulsifiers and surfactants. The surfactants improve how well water can interact with a surface, while the emulsifiers help oil and water droplets mix together.

      – ThoughtCo.com

    2. The students aren’t stupid obviously the Prof. used the word with angst and has before. In addition, this crap about literature is just bull as a great deal of it is racist you can relay the message without saying the word I assume most college students will get the idea. Folks talking that crap about Blacks using the word and they can’t nor can you use any racial epithet that doesn’t refer to your culture or race

      1. Mark Twain was not writing crap. And the argot of the times is the essence of the literature.

        How do you expect to purge ethnic hatred from literature, let alone genocide itself?

        You would be cutting out the first ten books of the Bible for starters

        And toss the Illiad in the can too.

        You guys are nuts! Red Guard fanatics

        Either political correctness dies or Culture lives. Both can’t happen.

        1. i guess they don’t like Louis Ferdinand Celine either. Well probably nobody even heard of him. Just another hater.

          1. “I have never voted in my life… I have always known and understood that the idiots are in a majority so it’s certain they will win.”
            ― Louis-Ferdinand Céline

            “An Immense hatred keeps me alive… i would live for a thousand years if i were certain of seeing the whole world croak.”
            ― Louis-Ferdinand Céline

            “…the new world, the communo-bourgeois, sermonizing, Tartuffian, automobilistic, alcoholic, gluttonous and cancerous world has only two anxieties: asz and bank account…”
            ― Louis Ferdinand Celine

            “There is no rest for the humble except in despising the great, whose only thought of the people is inspired by self-interest or sadism.”
            ― Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Journey to the End of the Night

  13. I find this scary. The professor seems reasonable, however neither the school nor the student do.

  14. Paul Zwier was my torts professor at Richmond Law and was an extraordinarily gifted teacher despite his west coast heritage. He’s was anything but conservative just as he was anything but racist. He was provocative and that is why I learned. In fact, I make my living in torts now largely from his inspiring my interest. This is just the Leftist culture destroying a fine man for doing what he was paid to do. Don’t let the buzzards grind you down, Paul.

    1. The names of the students making these complaints should be made public as part of the record. I would certainly not want to hire someone as a lawyer who is so emotionally fragile that he/she is made to feel “unsafe” by a word. The practice of law can be a rough and tumble world, and I’m not interested in coddling a basket case.

      1. then don’t hire women lawyers because a lot of the complainants for “incivility” and RPC speech-crime violations are filed by…… women lawyers

        oops, did I say that? Maybe i violated rpc 8.4 myself. for the ten thousandth time!

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