We have known law professor David Oedel for a number of years. We have even worked as a volunteer with him on a few projects for his students at Mercer over the years. If anyone ever fit the Stephen Colbert Report definition of being colorblind and not seeing color, it is Professor Oedel. In fact, the very idea of him being racist is ludicrous.
If those that are calling for his resignation succeed because Professor Oedel quoted in class a black speaker at a Mercer symposium 14 years ago who used the “n” word in discussing Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall as a lawyer in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, then they will be the lesser for it and will be the ultimate losers. Professor Oedel is an excellent law professor, and I suspect that those calling for him to resign know that.
It was just a word, although not a nice one. Further, the racial slur was quoted in context as something that a black speaker had said in characterizing Justice Marshall, and it fit the situation in which Professor Oedel used it. Oedel, we feel unnecessarily, apologized for his use of it, although if those offended are that thin-skinned I hate to think how they will do when they get out into the real legal world. My advice to those that have tried and condemned him is to save your battles for the battlefield of real life.
To those law students that want his hide, you need to get your law degree, pass the bar, and get out into the non-law school world where your desire to do battle can achieve some good for society. Professor Oedel wants you to succeed, and that is what he has spent his entire career to achieve. We know him well enough to be absolutely sure that he had no intention to insult or belittle anyone. He is, instead, trying to make you a good lawyer and prepare you to take your place among those that are contributing members of a noble profession. Insofar as this “battle” is concerned, Get over it…. You are supposed to be young aspiring professional adults and so act like it.