Law Prof on Leave After Playing Pimp Film
Posted Oct 15, 2007 8:29 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A professor at the University of Connecticut law school has agreed to take a leave of absence after showing a clip from the documentary Really Really Pimpin' in Da South that included some R-rated images.
Some students reportedly walked out of class because they were upset over the film and a slavery discussion in the classroom of remedies professor Robert Birmingham, the Connecticut Law Tribune reports.
An administration source told the legal newspaper that Birmingham stopped the prostitution film as it focused on a woman in a G-string. During the same class, Birmingham also asked students to argue whether slavery reparations are warranted in light of poor conditions in Africa, including war, famine and AIDS.
Dean Jeremy Paul says Birmingham will leave until the end of the semester in December. The decision is prompting some criticism from law students who say the action chills speech.
Birmingham used the clip in a discussion of a 2004 decision by the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that held prostitutes were held in involuntary servitude even though they were free to change pimps. A defendant in the case was one of the makers of the film, which “outlined the code of pimp conduct,” according to the case.
Birmingham’s lawyer, Heather Kaufmann, told the Connecticut Law Tribune that the R-rated material was a run-over of the video that occurred a few seconds after Birmingham hit the stop button.
Birmingham issued a formal apology. “I regret that I did not cut off the film at the end of the interview … in time to prevent the adjacent material from appearing on the screens,” he said. “I apologize to those of you whom I offended. I apologize as well that I did not emphasize the presupposition of our discussion: the extreme enduring suffering that slavery entailed."