March 17, 2011

"It’s sad that Brian Leiter seems to put so much effort into reinforcing — or, perhaps the proper term is 'embodying' — right-wing stereotypes regarding the academy."

Says Instapundit:
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.

78 comments:

Mr. D said...

Leiter wants to be taken seriously, except when he doesn't. But you have to guess when. And you'll always guess wrong.

Ann Althouse said...

I like guessing wrong. It's more fun.

Candance Moore said...

Prof. Althouse you have to understand, people like Leiter are not used to being criticized when they do something wrong. This thing called consequence is a strange sensation.

I for one think he is coping with the persecution like a real trooper.:-D

Carol said...

about justifying violence "at some point,"

I'm reading a lot of armchair revolutionaries on the net, especially commenters, philosophizing how *someone* is going to turn violent at some point, which is always undefined. Recall that the Marxists were similarly inclined, but usually had to resort to recruiting outright criminals to get the job done, because of their distaste for fisticuffs and all. The Bill Ayers of the world were pretty rare. Instead the left relied on alumni of San Quentin. We saw how that worked out.

AllenS said...

I also don't condone violence, but every once in a while, some people just need a good stabbing.

Lucius said...

Ann writes: "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!)"

Nietzsche would appreciate this!

Leiter's another comical instance of the Leftist appropriation of Nietzsche, a cannon being wielded into action by gnats.

I'm pretty sure what Nietzsche would tell Leiter to do with his precious UN-sanctioned "universal human rights", to say nothing of potential political violence by bourgeois public servants.

That mixture just doesn't work.

SteveR said...

Does he need some ointment on that burn?

bgates said...

I'm having trouble finding collective bargaining in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I did find "No one may be compelled to belong to an association" in Article 20;

"Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children" in Article 26; and

"The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures", Article 21.

Looks to me like some kind of Universal Kochlaration of Human Rights.

Then there's Article 12:
"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation."

Leiter's copy must be missing Article 12.

Michael K said...

The lefty blogs, of course, defend him the same way he defends himself. "Will no one rid me of this mettlesome priest !"

Ooops !

I'm afraid it is a fool's errand to defend philosophy professors these days. Especially if they are law school faculty. Calvin Coolidge, in his autobiography, muses on the two ways to become a lawyer and prefers to learn how to be a lawyer rather than how to pass examinations, as is taught in law schools. I'm not sure they still teach how to pass examinations anymore in law school.

Richard Dolan said...

I share Taranto's amusement at the whole thing. Leiter wanted to strike the usual lefty Che pose; in doing so, he looked ridiculous (Che was many things, but not "a mild mannered" academic (Ann's description of Leiter); and he's gotten called on it. And then he made it even worse by acting like a cry-baby, as Taranto rightly says. Not too Che-like, that cry-baby stuff.

The whole thing confirms an outsider's impression of the academy as a lefty play-pen, and raises the question why taxpayers everywhere should be interested in paying for that nonsense to continue. That latter thought would not normally be described as Nitzchean, but it's the sort of thing that Leitner and friends would be well advised to pay attention to. The academic bubble is already approaching the bursting point (if they can't figure that out for themselves, they can read it on Glenn R's blog), and it may not be the smartest move for the inhabitants of the play-pen to call attention to the antics within.

edutcher said...

Ooohhhh, attitude, attitude.

Fox must be talking to you about a regular spot ;)

Seriously, given how often the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is violated, mostly by people who are idolized by the people who trot it out from time to time, one would be better off sticking to the American declarations of rights and protections.

PaulV said...

Michael K, Lawyers take bar review courses to pass bar. They pay more attention than in law school classes. Very unfair to quote Leiter's actual words.

Chip S. said...

Let's be fair. Leiter didn't write about violence, he wrote about the idea of violence.

The actual violence will be left to the kinds of people we've seen in the Meadhouse videos. Intellectuals will remain in a nebulous zone, partly in and partly out, like Heidegger.

Ooh, was that a Godwin violation?

rhhardin said...

My urgent question at the moment is where the hell do bolts and nuts, that you temporarily remove and set aside while you do some measuring, go?

Unfortunately a trip around the house was made to gather up material in the interval, so they might be anywhere.

Collective bargaining isn't a right. It's the opposite, the taking of a right.

A and B can join to prevent C from bargaining with D E ... through Z, even though there's no agreement between A or B and C. That is, you can't hire somebody that wants to be hired and who you want to hire because two guys that don't work for you won't allow it.

I hope Leiter will explain that for me.

Surfed said...

Withering in return...

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Now, go put some ice on that.

Maybe some Preparation H would be more appropriate.

EDH said...

Speaking of emergency preparedness, I wonder how many cans of "Woop-Ass" Althouse keeps on hand to open-up for just such occasions?

Phil 3:14 said...

recent events pose genuine questions for people of a philosophical cast of mind.

For the rest of us, we just want to kick some ass!

virgil xenophon said...

Leiter thinks people like Althouse are naught but lawyer cook-book literalist Philistines..

ricpic said...

The inflammatory part was when you called Leiter fancy-shmancy.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Still waiting for any of the brilliant liberals to explain the difference between Leiter's "philosophical musings" and Sharron Angle's discussion of Second Amendment remedies.

My prediction: a circular argument which boils down to "He's a philosopher, so anything he says is philosophical. We know he's a philosopher, because he says philosophical things. And she's not a philosopher, because we say so." The art world uses this "argument", so why shouldn't the philosophers?

Chip S. said...

@bgates, Leiter must be referring to item 4 of Article 23: Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

That isn't precisely a "right to collective bargaining," but I can see how it could be read that way by someone who wanted to.

Item 1 of Article 23, though, can be read as prohibiting closed shops: Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

Clearly the handiwork of a committee.

garage mahal said...

Don't like unions? Don't join one. Easy.

Henry said...

That may not have been a hatchet job but this is a bludgeoning.

Why can't Leiter just stick to his guns? The philosophy of violence space is all his now, if he wants it.

Henry said...

Don't like unions? Don't join one. Easy.

And even easier now.

Chip S. said...

gm, So you're opposed to the automatic deduction of union dues from Wisconsin teachers' salaries? Looks like a consensus may emerge.

Marshal said...

Leiter transparently implies the current circumstances are close enough to justifying violence that the issue should be discussed. When confronted he cries that his obvious point doesn't exist and whines that people are being mean to him. In addition to being absolutely pathetic, doesn't this also show the cocoon he must live in 99% of the time? He thinks he can push the left toward violence and these blatherings will be enough to smooth it over?

I can't believe this spineless whiner is one of the shining lights of left law.

More importantly than this single cancerous cell on humanity's ass consider the implications on academia. Leiter, Bill Ayers, Ward Churchill, Frances Fox Piven just to name a few nuts aren't in academia in spite of their outlandish political ideas. Rather, academia selected and promoted them because of their outlandish ideas. We virtually never hear academia push back (except from blogs) but routinely see it revolt over the most modest deviations from the far left. This shows how extreme it has become. Academia is sick, and we need to fix it.

bagoh20 said...

AA, That's hot!

Alex said...

garage can't say many words with my balls in his mouth.

rhhardin said...

Psychiatrist Adolf Guggenbuhl-Craig, in his "From the Wrong Side," has a chapter "The Blessings of Violence."

JohnJ said...

Much of the rhetoric on the left seems an affectation, like wearing a beret. It's mostly harmless…until it's not. If I were forced to find amusement, I'd suggest the ongoing effort to portray the "fleed fourteen" as folk heroes. Explain for me again, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y, the exact nature of their heroism.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Since when do people of a philosophical cast of mind need a news hook to get interested in something? Zeno somehow got going without once witnessing an actual race between Achilles and a tortoise.

garage mahal said...

And even easier now.

You're assuming the bill clears the courts. The bill is not even published yet. Assuming it does, whatever is done, can be undone. The winds have shifted, and that ill wind of the Tea Party seems like a long time ago doesn't it?

bagoh20 said...

". The winds have shifted, and that ill wind of the Tea Party seems like a long time ago doesn't it?"

There must be a powerful stink in that shrinking echo chamber on the left. Someone needs to open as window and let in a new idea. It's the 21st century now, ya know.

J said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ignorance is Bliss said...

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights ( which I do not subscribe to ) does not recognize a right to collective bargaining. It does recognize a right to join unions, which Wisconsin public employees still have. While a broad reading would included a right to collective bargaining, even a not-so-broad reading supports a right to work without having to join a union.

Since the right to work is more clearly defined and more commonly voilated in the US, how come these philosophers haven't been wondering if that human rights violation justifies violence?

Lincolntf said...

SS? Yawn.
J, if you really thought we were anything like the fantastical Nazis running around your meth-addled head, you'd be licking our boots and begging to turn in your neighbors.

cubanbob said...

GM thinks the winds have shifted. We will find out for sure on election day 2012. Somehow I have a feeling that the 'silent majority' will beg to differ. Public opinion polls in favor of collective bargaining rights for civil service employees never ask the respondent the one simple question of how much more in taxes are you willing to pay to grant civil servants collective bargaining rights. Of course if that question were to be asked the results may not be as favorable as those commissioning the polls would prefer.

Leiter can have has his Universal Rights as long as I have my Universal Right not to pay for them or be bound by them.

Birkel said...

About that UN Human Rights thingy...

Since President Obama (like every other US President ever) won't let federal employees unionize that must mean he should be taken in front of a UN tribunal and convicted of his crimes against Human Rights, yes?

Or does that UN thingy not really mean what Leftists now claim it means?

rhhardin said...

Nietsche is only supposed to be anti-woman.

Actually he's the opposite.

Chip S. said...

Some thoughts on the UDHR and unions:

1. Education is not generally considered a "trade," but a "profession."

2. Banning trade unions is not equivalent to refusing to bargain collectively with them.

3. AFAIK, the U.S Constitution is not superseded by the UDHR, although I do believe changing that status is on the leftist agenda.

Phil 3:14 said...

recent events pose genuine questions for people of a philosophical cast of mind.

For the rest of us, we just want to kick some ass!

Carol_Herman said...

People sue all the time. That's why people train as lawyers. And, becoming a rabbi is no longer a big deal.

Now, my mom used to laugh off the threats that she'd be sued, by responding: So what? Once in the courtroom, the judge was gonna fall in love with her. She figured she could really state her case.

So sue. Winning. Different ball game.

That the left is going nuts, now? They want violence. They don't want violence.

While here we got the guy with the bull'shit' horn. I think that was one of Meade's best posts!

Did Leiter anticipate the laughter?

CJinPA said...

Sorry if this was noted before, but...From Leiter's blog:

"CRIMINALS": Two readers questioned the use of that term to describe the Republicans that pushed through the attack on collective bargaining rights. Since I believe that collective bargaining rights are human rights, I think an attack on such rights is a “criminal” act, not literally of course (i.e., in the sense of violating the laws of the jurisdiction). There is, of course, nothing unusual about this metaphorical use of “criminal” to characterize conduct one believes to be morally egregious.

But you're not using the word to "characterize conduct" you're using it to characterize people you disagree with. That's kind of unusual, Prof. Leiter.

And, you've already tipped your hand: You believe Wis. Republicans are violating human rights. It's not a metaphor for you.

You're like the teen who simply attaches "I'm just sayin'..." to every extreme utterance in the belief that it repels judgment. As you see, it doesn't work with grownups.

J said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Christopher said...

"She-wolf of the TP-blogger SS."

Mr. Godwin to the white courtesy phone, please.

But of course, that kind of shtick is all the left has. Unwilling (or, more generally, incapable) of arguing their points in a coherent manner, they're left to screaming "Koch!" "Nazi!" "Teabagger!" and, my favorite, "Dictator!" All because Walker is using the tools that have been provided to him by our form of government.

He's a funny kind of dictator when the worst crime against humanity he can perform is making garage cry, but perhaps being told "elections have consequences," to the left, is the equivalent of a showerhead of Zyklon-B now.

shoutingthomas said...

Lincoln, yr even too f-ing stupid and tasteless to be a nazi. Though I wager you do snort meth like most of the scum here--visavis yr white trash mama at the Boca Raton truck stop or whereever most of the AA trash come from.

J, this public beating off you do is just unseemly.

I know you think it's clever to hang your dick off and whack away, but in general people just view that as moronic.

Go somewhere private and pound your pudd.

You'll be doing everybody a favor.

Don't you have something better to do? Don't you have an appointment at Social Services or something?

Sigivald said...

The UDHR? Seriously?

Remind me to never, remotely, take him seriously, especially if he chooses to blather about "rights".

The UN's decision to sign a piece of paper in 1948 does not create inherent rights; nor does it infallibly recognize them, either.

(Hint, Mr. Leiter - Article 23 (4) does not say anything about a right to Union Shops or mandatory dues collection. And those are what "collective bargaining" means in terms of the current political context and dispute.

It claims a "right" to organize and join a union if they so desire, not to be forced to join one.

I realize that the distinction between being allowed to do something and being forced to might be a bit difficult to follow for someone acting as a philosopher, but hey. It's not that difficult.)

Steven said...

The "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" is a pile of shit, output by the fecal factory that is the UN General Assembly.

William said...

Whatever the merits of Nietzsche's thought, it must be admitted that his philosophy has always attracted a fair number of flakes and that anyone who defines his struggles as Nietzschean is at great risk of being viewed as pretentious....I prefer the commenter who quoted from Calvin Coolidge's autobiography. You're really serious about conservatism if you have read Coolidge's autobiography and can quote it at will. I would have more trust in someone who looks to Coolidge for political guidance than Nietzsche.

Revenant said...

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has no force of law in the United States.

Which is good, since it calls for violating some of OUR rights.

Lincolntf said...

Lincoln, yr even too f-ing stupid and tasteless to be a nazi. Though "I wager you do snort meth like most of the scum here--visavis yr white trash mama at the Boca Raton truck stop or whereever most of the AA trash come from.

And as Ive said to the macho-men of Tweekhouse--Ellay side and mano a mano, perp. Got dat, byatch? Yeah"



It's like Jar-Jar Binks and Rosie O'Donnell had an emotionally disturbed love-child.

J said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
pst314 said...

Later this year the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will be amended to mandate free laptops and iPods for all. /sarc

pst314 said...

...except for those darned Jews who already own everything. We hates them, hates them, Precious! /sarc

J said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Oclarki said...

J-

Still challenging people to fights on the internet, eh? Trying to talk like some east LA hoodrat. Stop embarrassing yourself whiteboy.

Lincolntf said...

Hey J, I'd send you a plane ticket if I didn't know you'd get on Craigslist and trade it for a pack of Skittles and a handy.

J said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)





Ah the pathetic Insult Troll is back, with a new avatar…went to the site, again much posting and NO commenting. Must be sad to invest so much time for so little return…

My advice Althouse Listeners, don’t bother responding to “J” s/he doesn’t have much to say and merely wants someone, ANYONE to notice him/her so it doesn’t feel that it’s sad pathetic maunderings haven’t been TOTALLY ignored.

J said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John Christopher said...

Now go put some ice on that.

KA-BOOM!

Almost Ali said...

Brian Leiter's song: "Oh, minimum-wage taxpayer, let my union go."

George said...

Paid vacation is a human right according to the UDHR (no, really, it is--Article 24).

According to Leiter's logic, violence may also be justified because you don't get one.

J said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
survcon63 said...

I am reading Locke right now. Your viewpoint is very Locke-ian.

Almost Ali said...

J said...
By supporting Walker/WI-GOP's decision to overturn Fed law..."

Which "Fed law," exactly?

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)





If I cared to plow thru the tripe I guess I might be able to come to a point from the Insult Troll, but it’s like trying to decipher my 4 y.o. niece, why bother, just nod and move on… or in this case just move on, realizing that if it didn’t come here, it would NEVER be able to prove its own existence, certainly not be the traffic it attempts to generate.

Trooper York said...

Philosophy is too important to be left to the Philosophers.

Trooper York said...

Everything you need to know about philosophy can be learned by watching cartoons on a Saturday morning.

The importance of struggling against failure no matter how many times you fail is best illustrated by the relationship of Coyote and Road Runner.

The romance and beauty of love is best personified by Pepe Le Pew.

The tenets and techniques of leadership based on the principles espoused by Machiavelli and Sun Tzu as embodied by Top Cat.

And of course the greatest of all Philosophers: Popeye. He stated the core of all philosophical thought when he said:

"I am what I am and that's all that I am."

Words to live by.

damikesc said...

Mr Dolan, cry-babyism is a key tenet of Che's personality. He was an EPIC cry baby. When he was killed, he didn't die with dignity.

Gm, funny thing about not joining unions is that Walker just made your advice possible. You should worship him for that.

J, if JFK and Congress gave public employees collective bargaining "rights" (and, mind you, they can only do that for Federal employees)...why don't federal employees have that "right" now?

rsross1 said...

J, since you like to throw around faux-Spanish, Puerto Ricano style, try this on for size: Lambe nalga para me ano. And, change your Pullups when your finished.

Tertium Quid said...

You probably don't think of yourself as a Kirkite, but Russell Kirk always believed that human experience, including tradition, should prevail over abstractions. Abstractions are often the enemy of common sense, local control, individual freedom, and liberty, though the abstraction usually is masked by a catchy phrase such as "liberte, egalite, and fraternite." Edmund Burke forever!

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)


Edmund Burke forever!


As my Irish forebears would say, “Fooook Edmund Burke.” And then, “Whooo’se Edmund Burke?” And then, “Hand me a beer wood’ya?”

From Inwood said...

Good grief, this plus that superannuated Leftie from the '70s dying the other day, in some corner of a foreign land because some mean prosecutor thought that he might actually have been involved in murdering someone not just talking.

I knew these people back then & Leiter sounds like those forever shamed by Tom Wolfe at the Mad Hatter's, OOPS Lennie Bernstein’s Radical Chic party.

And Mike K @ you beat me to it “"Will no one rid me of this mettlesome priest !" [no nitpicking with “mettlesome”. Trolls!]

From Inwood said...

Good grief, this plus that superannuated Leftie from the '70s dying the other day, in some corner of a foreign land because some mean prosecutor thought that he might actually have been involved in murdering someone not just talking.

I knew these people back then & Leiter sounds like those forever shamed by Tom Wolfe at the Mad Hatter's, OOPS Lennie Bernstein’s Radical Chic party.

And Mike K @10:31 AM, you beat me to it “"Will no one rid me of this mettlesome priest !" [no nitpicking with “mettlesome”, Trolls!]

Ironin said...

I read somewhere (maybe Volokh?) that after you and Volokh posted your original responses, Leiter altered his original post without publicly acknowledging the alterations. Don't know if it is true, or if the reference was just to the subsequent updates you mention.

Blogonaut said...

Having recently Googled “Brian Leitner Chicago” and then reviewing literally dozens of on-line smears and vendettas Leitner has carried out against all of his detractors and critics, I have learned that Leitner wades in with guns blazing no matter how insignificant the critic or the criticism – including Leitner’s public and private bludgeoning of a baby lawyer from Nevada for having the temerity to send Leitner a one-line email questioning how, as a law professor, he had a clue “how a lawyer thinks”?

See Leitner’s blog post here: http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/2013/03/we-get-mail-thomas-r-grover-esq-edition.html

Leitner went so far as to, in his emailed reply, threaten to forward the lad’s email to his employers. (And yet Leitner filed a bar complaint against another law professor and blogger who threatened (allegedly) to “out” unspecified “embarrassing ” information regarding Leitner if Leitner made good on his threat to out the identity of an anonymous blogger.)

If Leitner were an actor, he would be perfectly cast in the Caine Mutiny as Captain Queeg.

Leitner has more to damage his own reputation then any of these so called “smears” on his good name he keeps crying about.