Meanwhile, the Wisconsin State Journal has published a concluding editorial that is basically consistent with my own opinion:
Exactly what Kaplan said or didn't say remains in dispute. But there is overwhelming evidence, including reports from other students in the class, that he was making a valuable point about how the law can be an obstacle, rather than an aid, to displaced ethnic groups, such as the Hmong in Wisconsin.
His discussion included references to Hmong culture and the effects of being a displaced minority, which offended some students. His criticism, however, was aimed at the failures of government and the law to accommodate Hmong people.
It would be unproductive to tell any students in his class that because Kaplan was well-intentioned, they should not have been offended. They feel what they feel, and their feeling should be respected.
But the rest of us have been called to make a judgment on Kaplan, a public employee at our state university. Is he a bigot? Should he be disciplined?
The answer to both questions ought to be unequivocally "No."
There are lessons in the incident for everyone.
First, the reaction to Kaplan's remarks supports his point. It illustrates the frustration Hmong people feel because the rest of us have failed to give them the accommodation and respect they deserve.
Second, we all ought to consider our freedom to discuss controversial issues, particularly in academia. If our professors become afraid of an inquisition over a phrase taken out of context or a discussion misinterpreted, how shallow will our university be?