UVa’s Crying Game

UVa law school library — trauma site

by Jock Yell0tt

“When Dean Goluboff took the stage to respond, she immediately started crying and was largely incoherent to the audience for much of the first part of her response … ”

Risa Gobuloff, Esq., is Dean of the University of Virginia Law School.

Dean Gobuloff’s crying spate occurred at a Town Hall meeting on Thursday, April 19, 2018, called by the school’s Minority Rights Coalition to discuss the previous day’s emergency.[1]

The emergency was: a man sat in the law library reading up on the law.

Why were law students not warned about this by e-mail alerts?

One “crying, mad, frustrated” student felt “alienated.”

“Today is my 25th birthday,” said another.  “Yesterday my heart was in my stomach, tears streaming.”

Another recounted it was  “paralyzing — yesterday I was physically shaking for hours.”

One student wondered  “is it safe?” — to go back to the library to retrieve a backpack? Another: “I just don’t feel like the Law School protected us.”

Why would law students think the UVa Law Library has a duty to protect them from someone sitting in the library reading the law?

The man was Jason Kessler. He’s the target of a series of lawsuits arising out of his Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017.

Kessler cannot afford a lawyer. He was looking up the law trying to represent himself. But when Kessler was recognized, the alert went out on Social Media. A left-wing lynch mob assembled in the law library and hounded him out of his chair.

Said yet another student:

A police officer asked me why I was watching Jason Kessler and accused me of making Jason Kessler feel unsafe. He said: “Why are you bothering him? He’s done nothing wrong.” Yes he has. He has done a lot wrong. I decided, I’m just gonna cry. I’m white, I don’t get yelled at by police officers often.  And then I turned around and everyone was there behind me: Professors, friends, people who quite literally have my back.  That is so important.

Just gonna cry. But there is solace in having a mob at one’s back.

Kessler reacted predictably, by making things worse. Apparently as the mob pursued him, heckling and hounding and chasing him down law school corridors as he went looking for some sort of authority to get these people off his back, Kessler started ranting. There is no trustworthy account of what he said but if it was what Kessler usually says, it was calculated to offend. And it did.

Now, one would not wish to find oneself having to defend Jason Kessler’s behavior then, or in general. Kessler, in this writer’s opinion, is worse than a fool: he’s a fraud. The Washington Post reported that Kessler started out on the far Left before repositioning and rebranding himself as an avatar of the Right.  One of his self-published poems suggests the motive:

“[S]tupidity is ca-ching, ca-ching!/exchange your pride for fame./ignorance means ratings/they’ll put you on TV and doll you up for viewers’ perversity.”

Still, Kessler was trying to learn some law at the UVa law library to defend himself. Rather than just protesting his victimhood and whining about the unfairness of it all.

It was UVa law students, and their Dean, not merely protesting their victimhood but ostensibly reveling in the Crying Game.

Ironies abound.

Dean Goluboff’s expertise is in vagrancy: law abused to harass and expel undesirables. “[V]agrancy laws made it a crime to be a certain type of person… Most American laws required people to do something criminal before they could be arrested, vagrancy laws empathically did not,” Dean Goluboff’s book says.[2]

Because Kessler is a “certain type of person,” now she and UVa law faculty have obtained a No Trespass Order — normally served to oust a vagrant — to bar this political undesirable, bar Jason Kessler from a public law library.

Further: in February 2020 Dean Golubuff proudly announced the re-funding of the law school’s First Amendment Clinic.

A shouting mob of law students chased Kessler out of the very room where, shelved, sit books full of apparently unread cases about the First Amendment Right to use a public library.

The crying law students (and their Dean) let themselves wallow in emotion. Law in contrast, is supposed to be about reason.

In Plato’s dialog Gorgias, Socrates talks with, or at, a young law student named Callicles. With the knack for public speaking Callicles knows how to incite, how to gin up listeners. He can argue yet (also an irony) he is governed by his passions, his urges. A lawless law student.

What do we create, asks Plato ominously, when we teach law students to persuade, to govern others — but not to govern themselves?

Is UVa cultivating rational, thoughtful adults, or encouraging the tantrum prone inner child?

Consider the students quoted above and ask, would you hire that person to be your lawyer? A lawyer who, when faced with a fraught situation, is just gonna cry?

What law firm could safely entrust a major client, especially a politically incorrect client like an oil company or a drug company, to a lawyer who puts personal ideology first?

To try to add a little balance to this diatribe, one should say that U Va continues to attract very bright students.

Applicants to a law school usually care little or nothing about its political bent.  Even if it may be bent to be point of breaking. They just want to get in the best school they can. UVa has a reputation as one of the better schools. Perhaps not as good as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Stanford — but pretty good, if in the second tier.

Applicants usually do not consider ideology. Though it may figure in the admissions decision.

An August 2020 University of Illinois law review article spoke of a “conservative penalty and liberal bonus,” ranking major law  schools accordingly. UVa is neither in the top ten liberal nor conservative schools, in that ranking.[3]

Once admitted, on the other hand, it seems law students cannot help but become acutely aware of the political ethos in which they find themselves.

“Everything is not okay. Did I pick the wrong school?” said yet another UVA law student after the Kessler incident.

Wrong school? Not because UVa failed to protect law students against one befuddled man sitting in the library trying to read the law.

Cry, Dean Goluboff. Cry for unread books, lost principles of Freedom of Speech, and Freedom of Association.

And cry for the whining victims UVa graduates. Endlessly triggered, can they ever find in the practice of law a safe space?

Jock Yellott is a retired Charlottesville lawyer. He has no affiliation with U Va law school, Jason Kessler, or Solidarity Charlottesville.


[1] You can find the account published by Solidarity Charlottesville at https://medium.com/@solidaritycville/uva-law-school-town-hall-students-respond-to-white-supremacist-in-the-library-faculty-call-for-no-48d4d9047e02.   Solidarity Charlottesville cautions this is not verbatim but paraphrased from notes taken at the meeting.

[2]  Goluboff, Vagrant Nation: Police Power, Constitutional Change, and the Making of the 1960’s (Oxford 2018) p. 2.

[3]  https://www.illinoislawreview.org/online/political-ideology-and-law-school-rankings/

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