For those of us who still possess some ideals, it’s disappointing. But it’s hard to argue with this point; “Leiter wouldn’t be acting like such a crybaby if he weren’t losing this argument.” Leiter is — to the amusement of many of his fellow legal academics and philosophers — exquisitely concerned with reputation. But reputation is maintained by conduct.Insta is picking up on that James Taranto piece that I wrote about yesterday. I noticed, reading Taranto, that Leiter said I did "inflammatory hatchet job" on him (and Taranto had done a "drive-by smear"). That was in some updates to his post that I didn't read. Here's my supposed "hatchet job." I see I quoted a long sentence of his...
"At some point these acts of brazen viciousness are going to lead to a renewed philosophical interest in the question of when acts of political violence are morally justified..."... and I said:
How quickly the lefty mind turns toward violence! That's the lofty law-and-philosophy professor Brian Leiter. Here, I'll help you get your fancy-schmancy, high-tone philosophy seminar started: Acts of political violence are justified to get what you want.What's hatchet jobby about that? I see that Leiter's self-justifying update to his post refers to "Professor Althouse's misrepresentation of my views (I did not, and do not, call for political violence)." Well, hell! He just misrepresented what I said. I quoted him. I then I took my shot. It's all clearly visible, what he said and what I said. Judge for yourself. You can call it an "inflammatory hatchet job." I call it blogging. Effective blogging.
Leiter's first effort at a response to me is that he and I "have had very pleasant, collegial interactions in Austin and Madison in the last few years." Mmm, yeah. I sought him out once when I was in Austin after we'd been having a blog feud. You know, the one where I said "Nerd wants love" — Leiter being the nerd — and call him a "jackass" in the comments. He deserved it, but I made peace, in person, on his territory, and he's a fine, mild-mannered man in person. He defended sharp, sarcastic writing in those days. If I remember correctly, he portrayed it as Nietzschean. Maybe he doesn't do that anymore. I can't imagine Nietzsche saying something bold and then weighing it down with updates to say that some lady hacked him with a hatchet and caused inflammation. (Ooh! Look at the swelling!)
After he gets past the dweeby "I thought you were my friend" argument, he attempts some philosophizing — about justifying violence "at some point," which nearly everyone agrees with. He also says: " Collective bargaining is, per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a human right." In Leiter's philosophical mind, it seems that ending collecting bargaining rights for public employees might be sufficient justification for violence. Now, I know, and it's obvious in my original post (the one that caused that awful swelling) that he stands aloof observing the possible arguments other people might make. And he's certainly right that I saw him in light of my experience with "law professors being result-oriented in their scholarship." He thinks, given this debased experience of mine, that I "can not understand that recent events pose genuine questions for people of a philosophical cast of mind." You really think I can't understand that? No, I just see people, human beings everywhere, not disembodied thoughts. I understand the kind of people who like to think that their thoughts developed in the abstract and not inside the bodies of real individuals with desires and self-interests, including the interest in walking back from an ugly-looking blog post.
Now, go put some ice on that.