Show Not Tell: Why I am Declining to Participate in a Runnymede Society Debate - 2020-08-31
I was recently invited to participate in a Runnymede Society debate against Asher Honickman—a co-founder of the Society—on "the future of legal education and curriculum." I paused. I consulted. I reflected. And now, I am declining that invitation. But I want to explain why.
As a former debater and mooter, I love to argue. But as a legal scholar—and especially, a scholar of critical race theory—I am mindful of power and its inseverability from the conversations we engage in. Thinking about power, and its particular dynamics within the context of this proposed Runnymede Society debate, is ultimately what led me to decide that my participation in this specific debate would do more harm than good. There are five reasons for this:
the questionable expertise either of us would bring to a debate about law school curricula, and that Honickman would bring to a debate about critical race theory; the false premise on which the debate is anchored, i.e., that a field which is barely represented in Canadian law may be overtaking traditional legal education; distracting from how the Society misrepresents itself as apolitical, despite being transparently conservative—an objection to its candour, not its politics; disinterest in debating whether we should discuss race in law school, when how we have that discussion is an actually relevant and pressing concern facing the legal academy; and the fact that I do not want to dignify a debate, the subtext of which is whether law schools should consider the relationship between race and law at all (despite the long and documented past and present of how law plays a central role in Canadian racism).