Nerdy In A Different Way

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

When the venerable Federalist Society asked an esteemed law professor a constitutional question, the organization devoted to the preservation of the U. S. Constitution probably did not expect the answer it got. “Who is your favorite Founding Father? Why? ” Pepperdine Law School Student Sean P. O’Neill asked Professor Gregory S. McNeal, who teaches at the law school there.

“I don’t have one,” McNeal replied. “I’m not that kind of nerd.”

“But I’m nerdy in a different way.” McNeal went on to prove his point. “Let’s talk about Captain Kirk. I like how he handled the Kobayashi Maru, a fictional test depicted in the Star Trek movies and television series.”

“The Kobayashi Maru was a simulation conducted by Starfleet designed to test the ability of cadets who hoped to command starships. It was specifically designed as a no-win scenario. According to Star Trek lore, Kirk reprogrammed the simulator prior to taking the test, effectively making the no-win scenario a winnable one. When asked about why he acted the way he did, Kirk stated, ‘I don’t believe in the no-win scenario.’ That’s decent advice for appellate lawyers (Jack Balkin would say it’s moving ‘off the wall arguments’ to ‘on the wall’), it’s also good advice for prospective law professors.”

“I call it ‘creating your own reality.’ In fact, Kobayashi Maru story reminds me of my path to becoming a law professor, a seemingly impossible feat for someone with my background. I’m a conservative, former Army officer, son of a cleaning lady, with a law degree from Case Western. But here I am, apologizing to The Scorpions for rockin’ like a hurricane.”

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org.

 

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