March 16, 2011

James Taranto: "The reason we find Leiter's comments amusing rather than disgusting is that we, unlike Althouse, are not part of academia..."

"... and thus have no personal investment in the ideal of disinterested and honest scholarship. Rather than offend our ideals, Leiter reinforces our stereotype of academia as being filled with fools and knaves. You can see why this would bother Althouse, a scholar who does not fit the disparaging stereotype."

57 comments:

Chris said...

I think he's complimenting you. Is he?

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Related: Michigan TV stations report a suspicious package at the state capitol. Probably nothing, but MSP are responding with appropriate caution, planning to detonate it with a bomb disposal robot.

MSP also removed and arrested protesters who refused to vacate long after closing hours.

bagoh20 said...

I believe he is right. The problem politically is that so many are immune to such embarrassment and many more are hoping nobody will notice the idiocy they are associated with if they just pretend long enough for it to somehow evaporate.

Tom said...

Withering

traditionalguy said...

Wisconsin is like Willie Wonka's Chocolat Factory...children craving mythical candy. Althouse is calling Adult Time Out on the misbehavior among the academics.

Quayle said...

I'm buying every call option on Althouse that I can get.

Maguro said...
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Maguro said...

Leiter hasn't been right in the head since the Mets let him go.

Julius said...
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Julius said...

Wow... Never have I read a piece from the right-wing nutjobs at the WSJ that makes such terrific sense. Some choice bits:

This little kerfuffle is a good illustration of the First Amendment piety that the answer to offensive speech is more speech, not censorship.

Political freedom is much better served by a regime of near-absolute free speech than one that attempts to impose common-sense limits on speech...

Yielding to the temptation to censor the speech of guys like Leiter-- or even Fred Phelps of Westboro infamy-- would only make it more likely that guys like Leiter would eventually gain the power to censor the speech of the rest of us.

Although I would go in a little different direction with the last point and explicitly state that there is an inherent, inalienable right to speak and publish, especially on topics of public concern. It is moral issue, not a practical one.

Anti-SLAPP measures like the one in California further enhance free speech, and do so in a way that even the lowliest, least power-connected person can benefit from. Because these anti-SLAPP measures are so helpful for humanity's well-being, they ought to be implemented nationally.

Lem said...

I'm still reading the column but took a break to paste this little bit.

This little kerfuffle is a good illustration of the First Amendment piety that the answer to offensive speech is more speech, not censorship.

Amen.

Lem said...

Political freedom is much better served by a regime of near-absolute free speech than one that attempts to impose common-sense limits on speech.

Amen to that too.

kurt mueller said...

Taranto and Althouse -- both argue their positions with facts, logic and good cheer. All three are sorely lacking from many pundits on the left.

BTW - regular reader of your blog, seldom a commenter -- very impressed with your performance on Fox.

former law student said...

When are acts of political violence morally justified, anyways?

And what does this question have to do with the stripping of public employees' collective bargaining rights by Wisconsin's one-party government? A man with Leiter's considerable brainpower wouldn't be laying down non sequiturs, right?

MikeR said...

Julius, can I assume you agreed with the Citizens United verdict?

Charles said...

After reading Leiter's academic work for several years, I thought his PhD was in narcissism rathr than philosophy

Birkel said...

former law student:

Why is it a "stripping of public employees' collective bargaining rights" for the state to ask that the union collect its own dues? Why must the state act as the middle man for dues collection?

Similarly, why is it a "stripping of public employees' collective bargaining rights" to certify a union every year? And if you don't like every year... why is it a "stripping of public employees' collective bargaining rights" to certify a union every other year as we do the House of Representatives?

Finally, since there are unlimited wants and needs but limited resources, why would you direct more of them to public employees than other citizens of Wisconsin? What justifications do you have for reducing the welfare of some citizens in favor of others?

Leo Ladenson said...

1. Collective bargaining is, per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a human right.

2. There are circumstances in which violations of human rights call for un[l]awlful actions, including violence.


Federal government employees don't have collective bargaining rights. Seems to me that Leiter is calling for the assassination of federal government officials.

Julius said...
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Julius said...

When are acts of political violence morally justified, anyways?

When you want to end the rule of a regime. The only way to exterminate a regime is to exterminate all the (high-level, at least) people involved.

Trying to achieve any lesser goal with political violence is pointless and counter-productive and wrong.

Then the question becomes: Is it morally right to exterminate this regime?

Revenant said...

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is (a) misnamed, since it includes requirements that actual human rights be violated, and (b) without any American legal authority anyway.

Arguments over whether the treatment of Wisconsin schoolteachers do or don't violate it are just mental masturbation.

Julius said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Birkel said...

Julius @ 11:19 pm:
"Is it morally right to exterminate this regime?"

Response:
I'll put Julius down for...
1) Wouldn't mind a holocaust, so long as the "right people" were killed, or
2) Didn't mind "The Killing Fields, or
3) Thinks the Great Leap Forward was a net plus for humanity.
4) Some other murderous atrocity is o.k. by me...

No matter how it is sliced, Julius favors mass murder. So rarely do you capture one so purely evil in captivity.

Julius said...

I edited this for clarity, sorry for the recomment:

Julius, can I assume you agreed with the Citizens United verdict?

Yes, of course.

In fact, I go further by disagreeing with any restriction on campaign spending, direct or indirect, by corporations or other groups or individuals. The Citizens United case was a no-brainer because they just wanted to fund the showing of a film about Hillary Clinton.

The problem with money in politics is not that people give it or want to give it, but that politicians take it and adjust their votes on legislation accordingly. Legislation should be limited to the bare minimum required... and it ought to based on what is right and what is good for the whole country, not what is paid for. Same thing with the enforcement of the law. But none of that should preclude people or groups of people from doing whatever the fuck they please with their money.

Donors-- including, and especially, corporate donors-- are victims of the corrupt system. Our establishment politicians have legalized bribery and pandering, and it works for them most of all. You gotta pay to play; or else the politicians in the pocket of your competitors will screw you. And the result is an embedded short-sighted free-spending regime with built in poison pills against any attempt to dislodge it...

I don't think Americans, in general, appreciate how terrible our establishment politicians are. I'm happy that the Tea Party is pointing this out, and would be more happy if they would concentrate on attacking the bad politicians rather than getting cozy with any of them. And the Tea Party and other reformists should stay away from social issues because it distracts from what should be the core mission, and because those issues have a easy Federalist solution anyway: let the states handle them like the Constitution intended. Anyone who reads the Constitution and the knows its original intent would have their mind blown at our modern, all-encompassing interpretation of the Commerce Clause, and that's just one example.

I feel sorry for any group that finds itself forced to pony up protection money to support the thugs.

And, back to Citizens United, I feel sorry for any group that has to defend itself in court for wanting to show and advertise a fucking movie.

rcocean said...

Yes, he's complimenting Althouse. She's neither a fool nor a knave.

High praise indeed, considering she's a law professor.

Julius said...

@Birkel-

You still have to answer the moral question of whether it is right to exterminate the regime. I'm saying that any political violence with a lesser goal-- to physically hurt the opponent just a little bit-- is categorically wrong, in part because it is not effective.

Julius said...

Ugh! I just wrote this long, carefully worded comment on Citizens United and it disappeared! Blogger sucks!

Methadras said...

Quite a brouhaha you've created Ann.

Methadras said...

former law student said...

When are acts of political violence morally justified, anyways?

And what does this question have to do with the stripping of public employees' collective bargaining rights by Wisconsin's one-party government?


They are not rights you stupid fuck. What the hell is wrong with you? Are you so cognitively dissonant or willfully ignorant that you can't see that fact when it's presented to you time and time again? Or is your brain so diseased by the ideology of leftism that you suffer from some type of leftist dementia? You people are batshit crazy. I mean really lunatic fringe mental hospital grade nuts.

Oh and to answer your first question, political violence is what birthed this country, but it was a collective decision to do so. The Declaration of Independence laid down the groundwork for it.

Judy said...

There is no need for violence at all. This country has this silly system called "voting"
There is no moral "right" to used the word "extermination" for any reason what so ever. It is offensive, and quite frankly, an affront, in itself, to morality.
To pretend, or word it such a way, that you can claim later you didn't mean it as "murdering", in some Scholarly language, to me, is not acceptable.

So the answer to your veiled question is:
No.
Make your point at the polling place like everyone else.
And really, watching the abuses of protesters who have blatantly abridged the freedom of speech, and right to assemble of those who do not support the unions "cause", totally voids any argument made to defend the freedom of speech of protesters.
That is what Hypocrisy looks like.

Jason (the commenter) said...

I don't think a word like "scholar" catches the flavor of Althouse. Too bookish, not dynamic enough.

Judy said...

My comment was directed at Julius, not Althouse.

I LOVE Althouse!

Timon said...

If your actions are justified, are they violent or merely forceful?

Rick Caird said...

This little kerfuffle is a good illustration of the First Amendment piety that the answer to offensive speech is more speech, not censorship.

However, that does not mean it is not appropriate to laugh and point at pompous foolishness. As Keith Burgess-Jackson notes, Leiter is an "academic thug" whether at Texas or Chicago.

vbspurs said...

Chris wrote:

I think he's complimenting you. Is he?

Heh. Indeed he is, calling her a "scholar" and by extension not a typical fool and knave of academia (although a woman, properly, cannot be defined as a knave).

But, though I understand his point that colleagues in a given profession will have less tolerance with the outré statements expressed about a topic from one of their own (like Taranto's reaction to the NYT), I think the point is a forced one.

I am not a member of academia, but I want them not to engage is disgusting rhetoric like calls to violence. My disgust is not tempered by professional distance or proximity.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

"Second, common sense is too easily swamped by senseless intellectualism. The experience of generally free countries that do limit speech--including Canada, England and many Continental European lands--is that the limits are dictated by political correctness rather than common sense. The same is true of American institutions of higher education."

Precisely!

Present any 'elite' or 'academic' type with 'common sense' and watch for the eyeroll...

@fls

"And what does this question have to do with the stripping of public employees' collective bargaining rights..."

Still chasing unicorns with your assumption that collective bargaining is a 'right' are you? Pretty f'ing lame, you 'call' yourself a 'former law student', why is that? Flunked out? Honestly, you know so much that just isn't so, fls...

edutcher said...

Ann is definitely being complimented.

Leiter's piece was nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to justify the union thuggery since Scott Walker stood up to the public sector unions. And Ann rightly called him on it. Taranto calling her (a lady and) a scholar is just the icing on the cake.

She's really hit the big time.

PS Julie used to actually have something to offer in the way of rebuttal. Now he just mimics people like Alpha and Jeremy.

Hard times for the Lefties.

vbspurs said...

OTOH, it's nice to see Al Leiter turned a new professional leaf after the Marlins and the Mets.

I'm a Shaaaaark said...

Yes, the U.N. says collective bargaining is a "human right". However, in regards to that the U.N. States that belonging to a union is a "human right" but they also say that not having to belong to a union is ALSO a human right.

So, that being said, allowing people to vote on whetherto remain unionized each year is the supporting "human rights".

TML said...

Jason (The Commenter)-

I agree. There are maybe 5 blogs I read every day and Althouse is one of them. It's really turned into a "salon" (Not Salon!). Maybe even a neo-Agora. Plus I've never visited a blog with such overall good manners and spirit. So scholar is her day job. But her most important position (blogtrix?) is unnamed. Perhaps un-nameable.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Political violence is only justified when people are forbidden to use non-violent ways of expressing what they want their government to do.

The Wisconin legislature and Wisconsin's governor got their positions through free and fair elections,from which they may be removed in other free and fair elections. They violated no laws, and suppressed no criticism.

Public employees have the same rights as any citizen to participate in their government. No citizen has the right to get his way; he only has the right to attempt to persuade other citizens to agree with him.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

1. Collective bargaining is, per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a human right.

Maybe we could get some clarification on this from the UN Human Rights Council. Do you think we should ask China or Cuba, or maybe wait until Libya comes off of suspension?

PaulV said...

FLS, the privilege of public unions was given by one party government, so you make no sense again.

martin.musculus said...

@Judy:
Sorry to have to disagree, but I *will* grant you that situations justifing violence, here in the U.S., are exceedingly rare. Elsewhere, not so much.

I understand where your POV originates, there are atleast two generations that know only a lack of war and have not been taught the concept that there are thing worth laying down a person's life. This, of course, necessatates that there are also things worth *killing* for. Few, yes, but they exist none-the-less.
All this foam abt "political" vs "non-political" violence is just a rhetorical way to obsfucate the truth.

former law student said...

OK guys, the point of my comment was to support Althouse, but if you'd rather pursue your idiosyncratic definition of "right," let me put your quixotic fervor to use in my own campaign:

Let us rename the Copyright Act the "Copyprivilege" Act, because certainly copyright was not a Right Ordained by God.

bagoh20 said...

Is political violence justified? Regardless, it will justify your opponent to reciprocate, so the question is: Do you have the balls, and are you so sure it's worth it. And for Julius's effectiveness standard, will you win, or get planted. Look to Libya to see the costs, and who ends up paying them. This is not a game.

Phil 3:14 said...

Taranto's piece was good; maybe a little obtuse in places. Yes, he's complimenting the Professor. My interpretation of the piece beyond his praise of the Professor:

neither the union thug with the bullhorn nor the outraged Tea partier at the town hall meeting give a sh*t about some obscure professor's musings on the "philosophy of violence"

Don't Tread 2012 said...

@fls

"Let us rename the Copyright Act the "Copyprivilege" Act, because certainly copyright was not a Right Ordained by God."

Thanks for the clarification. I have no issue with this proposal, and it acknowledges the spirit of those of us that say collective bargaining is not a 'right', it is a privilege, which implies that it is transitory and could be lost, in the same way an elected official can lose his seat due to an election, recall or otherwise.

285exp said...

@Julius
Ugh! I just wrote this long, carefully worded comment on Citizens United and it disappeared! Blogger sucks!

What a tragedy, I'm sure it was up to your usual standards.

You are one of the best arguments for absolute free speech, it lets you know who the idiots are.

t-man said...

C'mon give Julius a break. He's obviously a blockhead, but he does the best he can.

Mike said...

What's this with the "right wing nut jobs" at the Wall Street Journal stuff? Measured, reasoned argument is what shows up on their editorial and opinion pages. You may disagree with their conclusions, but you can't fault the way they got there.

Taranto is an interesting case. I don't think he has any college degree. But he can reason better than most of the people he writes about. And he usually delivers his observations with a slice of wry.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

And the 'new civility' sold to America by the 'left' goes on:

http://www.myfoxdc.com/dpp/news/local/windows-at-washington-dc-republican-office-shot-out-031711

Just love the last line. I laughed.

wv - pressest

The most press

former law student said...

Having had BBs put through a shed window in my youth, I wondered how a BB gun could do so much damage.

This news story on a night of vandalism from Saginaw, Michigan, includes security cam video of a man firing a BB gun within inches of the glass. You can watch the clear panels turn milky as he passes:

http://www.wnem.com/news/26641815
/detail.html

dreams said...

Reading Althouse and Taranto is a great way to kick some butt, vicariously.

Synova said...

I just had a long comment disappear, too.

Synova said...

"Is political violence justified? Regardless, it will justify your opponent to reciprocate, so the question is: Do you have the balls, and are you so sure it's worth it. And for Julius's effectiveness standard, will you win, or get planted. Look to Libya to see the costs, and who ends up paying them. This is not a game."

I essentially took longer to say this.

Is it really worth it? Is the problem big enough to make violence appropriate? Will you win?

On desperate ground, fight.

If it doesn't count as desperate ground, probably you ought not, because it won't be effective, whatever you do, but will hurt a whole lot of people.

This is not a game.

The left accuses the right of loving war. I'd accuse the left of thinking they can *dabble* in it and not get their morals dirty.

Synova said...

I also said something snarky about who it is that loves guns and who is it that seems hot on nail bombs for citizen insurrections.

One you aim.

The other?

I suppose it's not all that important to maintain an armed citizenry when fertilizer and deck screws will do.