A former Indiana law school student of Dawn Johnsen’s penned an editorial for the local Journal Gazette newspaper recently.

In it, this former student writes of the open and fair way that Prof. Johnsen conducted her classes, not only allowing opposing viewpoints but actively encouraging them to be aired, debated and discussed on issues as wide-ranging as "don’t ask, don’t tell," abortion and executive power.

The entire opinion piece is worth a read, if only because this person has had actual, real, day to day experience in dealing with Dawn Johnsen.

Useful for seeing someone as a human being, and not simply as some cardboard PR construct to tear apart.

But also because this may be one of the more telling descriptive microcosms of what "debate" in America has become the last few years:

Perhaps one might think that the pleasant nature of my class was because of a bevy of parroting law students: Learn to repeat the professor and cater to what she wants, and you’ll succeed. This was not true with my class, and we are all better for it. We had a diversity of viewpoints, running the gamut of political perspectives and opinions.

Several members of my class were angry about being stuck with Professor Johnsen when they first received their class schedule. One student wore conservative political T-shirts frequently in protest; I’d heard it through the grapevine that another member of my class wanted to “make her cry” by the end of the class period. Whether the rumor is true or not, she didn’t cry….

Debate and questioning of ideas are what make a great classroom, and the lack of such arguably made the former Office of Legal Counsel environment a bad one. Johnsen’s respectful nature showed during discussions of every issue, whether it was a question of state power or a discussion of abortion.

The current motto of today’s GOP: "Free speech for me, but not for thee. Get back in line."

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com

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