Maybe Mystal is a little jealous:
Now, if I were a blogger looking to make a quick buck, that’s exactly the kind of book I’d write. In fact, look for my upcoming book, “Why White People Can Afford To Piss Away Time & Money in Law School, But Blacks Can’t.”Here's Ralph Banks, who is, like Mystal, a black male writer with an elite legal education, and he's writing a book about marriage and black people, and he's also a Stanford law professor, while Mystal is writing for a blog. Moreover, Banks — if we're to believe an advance review (the book's not out until September) — is arguing that black women can "shift the power balance" by marrying white men. Mystal states more than once that he is married to a black woman, but:
But Ralph Banks isn’t a blogger, he’s a Stanford Law professor. Shouldn’t we expect less sensationalized bullcrap from him?
For what it’s worth, I have no problem whatsoever with interracial marriage...
So whether or not Professor Banks has a worthwhile point, my objection rests with the way it was stated. I do this every day. I know a sensational headline when I’m looking at one. I’m familiar with how one writes generally reasonable arguments for 90% of a piece interspersed with ten percent of barely coherent hyperbole. We live in a culture where getting heard over the white noise sometimes requires you to shout a little bit. I get that.Look, it's a great title, and people are going to stop and pay attention — in part because of the title and in part because of Banks's status as a high-level lawprof. Now, maybe that feels unfair to Mystal, who toils as a blogger unassisted by lawprof status. (But Mystal didn't build his own blog traffic; he stepped up onto a writing-platform built by David Lat.) Maybe it also seems unfair that lawprof-bloggers get some initial attention as bloggers because they are lawprofs. (But the information superhighway is littered with little-read blogs written by lawprofs who thought lots of people would want to know what they had to say about this and that because they are lawprofs. It's not that easy!)
I just don’t see why we need that from Stanford Law School, and I don’t see why we need it on a topic where there has been so little top-notch scholarly work.... Couldn’t the Stanford Law professor give us something a little bit more than Is Marriage for White People? Couldn’t the SLS prof tell his publisher (who, dollar-to-donuts, is the one who came up with this title): “Come now, that’s dumb. After the initial shock value, people will just say I’m being dumb, and that’s not going to be good for sales.”
I think it's fine for lawprofs to speak to the general public about a variety of public issues. We need smart and interesting people contributing to the national dialogue. And some of these people are law professors. I wouldn't want to say to law professors — especially to the lawprof named Althouse — you need to crawl back into the stereotypical lawprof box and write books and articles that look more like something conventional people can glance at and say: Scholarship!