June 16, 2007

As long as I'm going over a few things people have been saying about me...

Let me note that Patterico didn't like what I said about the AutoAdmit case, but then he worried that he was too harsh, so he wrote a post saying he liked what I said in that post about Glenn Greenwald... except the part that he didn't like (where I -- horrors! -- showed a little appreciation for Chris Matthews).

On the AutoAdmit case, he says:
[I]t is indeed quite a spectacle to watch law professors with established reputations and prominent spots on the Internet — both of which they can use to counter any unjust criticism of themselves — labeling as oversensitive fledgling lawyers with no established reputation and no platform for responding to scurrilous allegations.
I agree that law students are in a very different position, and I understand the great anxiety these things cause. I am continually aware of the benefits I enjoy because I have tenure and a high-traffic blog. These two things do also attract special attacks and make people feel especially free to say whatever they like about me. But I am not losing sight of the fact that the law students are in another position. I have a lot of empathy for law students -- much more than for law professors! I've devoted decades to working with law students, and to say I don't care about what happens to them is to attack my "established reputation." That matters to me. But, of course, obviously, I'm in a different position and I always keep that in mind when the subject is law students.

You may not notice it, but I almost never write anything about law students. Unless there is actually a newspaper article raising an important controversy involving them, I am extremely unlikely ever to say anything negative about them. Often law student blogs say very nasty things about me, and I say nothing. I don't fight back, because they are law students. It just doesn't seem right. With respect to this AutoAdmit controversy, I'm trying to keep my distance from it -- believe it or not -- because I don't want to say anything negative about law students.

I concede that I said something dismissive in response to the original Washington Post story, to the extent that it characterized a student as claiming that she lost out on job offers because chatboard guys talked too much about how pretty she was. I don't think being beautiful and causing sexual desire in others is that harmful to your reputation. That said, I do acknowledge the anxiety caused by the over-the-top, outrageous writing when it crosses the line and makes it seem as though someone will show up in real life as a stalker or a rapist.

I am trying not to write too much on the subject, but at the same time it's frustrating to see a complex set of events and individuals jumbled together and discussed in a highly emotional and extremely ideological way -- not only in blogs and news articles, but in the complaint itself. Patterico criticizes me for not putting more effort into untangling the jumbled complaint. This conflicts with my preference for staying out of it for the most part, mainly because I don't want to criticize law students and or to give raw material to the ideological extremists who are eager to use anything I say that doesn't toe the line to trash my reputation as a law professor.

So I'm really conflicted about this. I can see that ideologues are not only viciously attacking me but also trying to frame the debate in a very skewed way that puts a low value on free speech and a high value on using lawsuits to enforce politeness of the internet. It's mostly done by stressing the great danger of violence against women and trashing anyone who doesn't see that (admittedly worthy) concern as trumping anything else. So since I do have tenure and a high-traffic blog, I feel I need to stay in it and counter some of that. Believe me, it's no fun.

21 comments:

dave™© said...

You know what this blog needs? A snappy tagline.

I think "Come for the misogyny - stay for the homophobia" fits well, but my friend Steve Simels likes Glenn Kenny's pithy "A one-woman non-sequitor generator."

Discuss...

Kirby Olson said...

I admire your willingness to stand up to the leftist lynch mobs.

Eternal vigilance and all that!

Btw, how prevalent is the leftist notion that the individual is never guilty but that classes and races are guilty. I mean, within law schools across the country? Is that what's being taught?

That seems to be almost all that's taught in English departments outside of a few places like Grove City.

And then of course there are remnants like me who still believe in the notion of the individual == both in terms of genius, and in terms of responsibility.

Somehow the communards of 68 didn't believe in the individual and now that projection of evil outwards is the going thing. How is it that you didn't fall for it?

I still can't follow how you managed to remain free of the left lynch mob mentality.

peter hoh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
peter hoh said...

You, a law professor, tried, at the onset, to create a blog that was neither scholarly nor political. I'm rather certain that the amount of traffic has come as a surprise. 

And with great traffic, comes great expectations. Expectations that you, a law professor, will comment on the things that readers expect from a law professor. 

Welcome to the vortex. Fueled, to a large extent, by those who are outraged that you, a law professor, feminist, and once and future liberal, flout partisan expectations.

Ann Althouse said...

"and once and future liberal"

The other night, I dreamed I had told someone I'd decided to support Barack Obama!

Mike said...

"So I'm really conflicted about this. I can see that ideologues are not only viciously attacking me but also trying to frame the debate in a very skewed way that puts a low value on free speech..."

That's a good reason to stay out of it. And criticizing people for what they choose not to talk about. What don't some people get about free speech? What is so hard about this concept? This is old news, but the left really hates what some people do with their freedom to speak.

And with that, I'm going to go weed the garden.

Mark Daniels said...

As to Chris Matthews...

Matthews sometimes speaks more than he should when he interviews people and I thought he did a poor job with the presidential debate.

But, I love the guy. I think he's the best of the cable news show hosts. Even when I don't agree with him, I think that he's honest and he bases his opinions on fact. He has opinions, but he's fair. He's a good natured happy warrior. He's a patriot. He also understands that politics may be "hardball," but it's not meant to be bloodsport.

So if you gave a compliment to Matthews, I compliment you.

Mark Daniels

billy joe bob bubba said...

"...because I have tenure and a high-traffic blog"

You know, there are people who would KILL for either of those.

Just sayin'.

Maxine Weiss said...

Reverse Psychology: When Althouse says she's conflicted, that means she's not conflicted in the least.

Just like when Althouse "forbids" anyone from discussing something....knowing full well that's exactly what will be discussed. ---In order to deflect the conversation off an even more sensitive topic.

And you know I'm right. Althouse, especially these days, with lots of time on her hands....sits around thinking of ways to coax people into discussing one topic, while stearing them away from another.

I forbid you to discuss topic A, now let's all discuss topic B instead.

Meanwhile, topic C never gets discussed, and nobody's the wiser.

You're all being played.

Not me. I don't miss a trick!

David53 said...

The other night, I dreamed I had told someone I'd decided to support Barack Obama!

Obviously your Republican handlers are trying to use you to dull the keen knife of Hillary's presidential run.

OR

Obviously your Republican handlers are trying to use you to derail the Obama train. If Ann likes him he must be a closet conservative.

And you, a law professor, why aren't you dreaming about habeas corpus or the real meaning of the Constitution?

Simon said...

David53 said...
"And you, a law professor, why aren't you dreaming about habeas corpus ...?"

Perhaps she is disturbed by what the court is doing. "If the [Supreme] Court writes well, following the guidance of Hart & Wechsler, [the legal community] sleep[s] soundly. If [the Court] writes somewhat badly or does somewhat disturbing things, we dream and impose order. But there are times when the Court slaps me awake and I can no longer carry out the task of organizing the material into frameworks. Butler v. McKellar gave me insomnia." Althouse, Late Night Confessions in the Hart & Wechsler Hotel, 47 Vand. L. Rev. 993, 1002 (1994).

peter hoh said...

david53: Why would Republican operatives try to dampen Hillary's presidential run? It's the surest way to energize their base and to turn the middle back toward their candidates.

Lincoln said...

No offense Ms. Althouse, but you (and other law professors like Reynolds) basically flipped off the female law students in question and dismissed their initial fears out of hand, while completely glossing over the stalking elements of the AutoAdmit threads. If you showed any true sympathy for their plight as you claim, it must have been in passing, because that certainly wasn't the impression I had when reading your thoughts on the subject.

The threads didn't merely contain off the wall comments, but disturbing material that encouraged criminal behavior and put the targeted law students in legitimate fear for their safety. You had much to say about the students' fear of being able to find work as a result of this mess, but to THIS you offer few, if any words of genuine sympathy.

While I personally do think a degree of it is hyperbole, including the issue of whether these threads could dramatically affect their career goals (it may or may not), there are other issues to consider, and even if the cause of action to bring suit lacks merit, it may be because the plaintiffs in question saw no other recourse. They asked that the threads be taken down, and as far as I know the administrators flipped them off (even now). The refusal to remove threads that discussed rape fantasies, listed addresses of the victims, encouraged quasi-paparazzi behavior (and God only knows what else) may be an exercise in free speech in your view, but it also showed an gross and utter lack of common decency. Yet for all this talk about copyright issues and damage to career prospects, etc., little has been said about the more disturbing (and yes violent) elements of the AutoAdmit threads here. Ciolli not have only lost his job offer over it (as it appears), but he may have also inadvertently opened the door to the introduction of new case law (presuming this lawsuit actually has wheels) that could potentially assign some degree of culpability and liability to the administrators of Internet message boards for the future, all because this asshat refused to do the right thing in the first place. Insane laws always get started like this too. Because one jerkwad couldn't be bothered to do the right thing, the rest of us have to pay the price for it.

In regards to free speech, some may remember the pressing issue of whether simply posting a list of home addresses to abortionist doctors on an anti-abortion website (and nothing else) constituted legitimate free speech. Yet to what purpose would this serve? That it might come up on Jeopardy one night?

Such issues of free speech is a grave subject not to be taken lightly. But what some of the AutoAdmit members did was incredibly base, and if we can agree on that, what then should have been the proper recourse, if not this lawsuit? From this side of the valley the answers collectively seem to be: just ignore it.

Are you kidding me? If candid snapshots of me were posted on an hostile forum complete with my home address and healthy discussions on what Big Bruno would like to do to me once he gets his hands on me, I'm supposed to IGNORE this? I think I can understand now why some feminists might not like conservatives very much.

It's also surprising to see law professors who are charged with teaching proper legal analysis to their students, analysis that requires a careful evaluation of ALL sides, would resort to making treatises that would be so obnoxious and embarrassingly one dimensional in tone here.

Law professors. Ugh. The scummiest kind of lawyers indeed. :-P

Maxine Weiss said...

But Lincoln, don't you see? Althouse isn't just a Law Prof...she's a Mother (which we're not supposed to talk about, uh-oh) with a son in Law School, about to embark on his own career.

These issues hit a little too close to home.

Although, I would say Althouse's paranoia runs a little too deep when it's absolutely forbidden to wish her other son a happy birthday, two Saturdays ago.

Birthdays, graduations--- those too are completely off-limits when it involves her sons.

Again, a simple "Happy Birthday" two weeks ago, to the one son was completely frowned upon and considered abuse.

Then again, Holidays of any kind are so cliche, even Birthdays!

trvolk said...

As usual, this incident has produced two different online debates, the ideology and the (lack of) practical merits of the lawsuit. As is all too often the case when the two mix (cough--Duke rape--cough), the result is an overcooked melange of too many different starchy foodstuffs.

Anonymous character assassinations have been a mainstay of the internet even before the introduction of http, and they will eventually birth a landmark lawsuit. This instance however is not the one.

PatHMV said...

One of my law professors would often decline to take rather obvious pot shots or come backs at various of our class members. When asked why, he explained that messing with law students was too easy... "like shooting cows in a barrel."

We're pretty sure he meant it out of fondness.

Mr.Murder said...

"So I'm really conflicted about this. I can see that ideologues are not only viciously attacking me but also trying to frame the debate in a very skewed way that puts a low value on free speech and a high value on using lawsuits to enforce politeness of the internet."

Vicious attacks, as compared to say, non vicious attacks, normal every day attacks, somewhere you've lost me in this nomer, Ms.Althouse.

As for debate frames that are skewered, "liberal lynch mobs" sums that up in its entirety.

Perhaps being hung in effigy would apply to that notion, but it wouldn't necessarily be a mob behavior, right to petition and assemble, due process, all that as a form of free speech protest.

We'll fetch you a fainting couch in range of the free speech zones at the next pol rally near you...

Hope the topic of being hung(in a different analogy) finds your wine soaked weekend evenings well also.

Mr.Murder said...

As for agreeing with Matthews and his background analyses to resume hypercharged underpinnings for most every political topic, let's delve deeper into the core motivations.

Going by appearance alone suggests similarities, it must be a blonde thing. You two do share that trait.

Though the bonfire of the vanities that is metablogging probably does not afford Matthews the time to google his own hits. Still he remains a perfect example of yuppies, stylized and oversexed in terms of waning self actualization. Fortunately you seem to have solved half of that equation already.

Beyond that is a similar commitment to style. Both of you like your hair shorter or moderate. It conveys the same, and also helps large people look less so. Not to say it looks bad on him or you, to the contrary.

Extra weight would look good on either of you as well. You both carry selves quite well already. It isn't really about fat though, it's about phat.

Somewhere between your younger era and now it got cool to be creepily conservatoid. Because true conservatism is dead, it was buried next to Goldwater after Cheney shot it in the face. No amount of complimentary physical appearance can change the underlying conflicts.

Instead this is some neocon apparatachik manner of gestalt worldviews shaping the policy. This syntax with facts on the ground and fax in the realm of analysis is being ignored. Clap louder, they say!(/did u get the memo, OMG!!)

This is masked in a mancrush of manchurian candidate cinematic spectacle. A triumph of the willpower to stay the course and make unpopular decisions. You stand by the same as part of the form letter philosophy that forms the core values of detainment enablers as they torture truth every time they order torture of persons.

You and Matthews are so cool, and the liberals boys and girls can't join your club. All the red kool aid is yours. The failure to share your phat makes you megaditto anti-cool.

Because each of you has the capacity to become unabashedly liberal. Matthews denies this background to this day, perhaps fearful the cool club will disown him. Your own desire to further cultivate an eye for composition and the various friends to which Althouse links(Sullivan for instance) hints evidence that there's much more to Annie than pleasant appearance.

Still these persons reaffirm the same narrow construct world view, if you didn't have one another as an excuse to fall upon in default mode, you'd already perhaps be part of the progressive policy bandwagon.

Each of you instead resumes the clumsy mantle of contra positive right wing polemics. Free yourselves this burdensome yoke, shed the self hating motif and step into the light. Free yo' mind, thine ass will follow... the wine tastes sweeter over here.

Lincoln said...

Mr. Murder, after reading your latest verbose and maddeningly nonsensical comment, your username now makes more sense to me.

Mr.Murder said...

If you have conflict with the body of content, the summary alone is reason enough to reconsider. The recompense is your own, to not relfect such changes, that would be of disservice to self.

Join the community of engagement, Ann. Within the spectrum we espouse is energy to compliment your own incresingly progressive personal experience.

Luckyoldson said...

killer post, murder.

got any of those meds for sale?