February 18, 2016

And yet... what better tribute to Justice Scalia than to be a drama queen and write a dissent?

David Lat writes about a controversy at Georgetown University Law Center. On the day we learned of Justice Scalia's death, the school sent out a press release with the headline, "Georgetown Law Mourns the Loss of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia." 3 days later, 2 Georgetown lawprofs sent out their own messages. Louis Michael Seidman wrote:
Our norms of civility preclude criticizing public figures immediately after their death. For now, then, all I’ll say is that I disagree with these sentiments and that expressions attributed to the “Georgetown Community” in the press release issued this evening do not reflect the views of the entire community.
And Gary Peller wrote (to quote only part of it):
Like Mike Seidman, I also was put-off by the invocation of the “Georgetown Community” in the press release that Dean Treanor issued Saturday. I imagine many other faculty, students and staff, particularly people of color, women and sexual minorities, cringed at headline and at the unmitigated praise with which the press release described a jurist that many of us believe was a defender of privilege, oppression and bigotry, one whose intellectual positions were not brilliant but simplistic and formalistic....
Lat is critical of Seidman and Peller on the theory that lawprofs "have a special duty to demonstrate to their students the values of collegiality, professionalism, and respect for differing viewpoints."
So what was the point of Professor Peller’s message? It seems he wanted to make clear that he is not part of the “Georgetown Community” mourning Justice Scalia: “That ‘community’ would never have claimed that our entire community mourns the loss of J. Scalia, nor contributed to his mystification without regard for the harm and hurt he inflicted. That community teaches critique, not deference, and empowerment, not obsequiousness.”

I think Professor Peller is being a bit of a drama queen...
And yet... what better tribute to Justice Scalia than to be a drama queen and write a dissent?

62 comments:

tim in vermont said...

You need a "liberals are so charming" tag.

David Hampton said...

Professor Peller is under the assumption that he is smarter and wiser than the folks who wrote the Constitution. He is not smarter by any stretch of the imagination. His bed rock principles are built on an infinitely malleable permissiveness that promotes temporary pleasure and the pursuit of instant gratification instead of moral imperative of law. Pity him and his students.

Gordon said...

This guy, apparently, has a poster on his office wall: Never pass up an opportunity to be a dick.

He is seeking disability status for repetitive motion injury caused by patting himself on the back.

rehajm said...

I'll fight for this guy's right to be the complete shit of a human being that he is but let us not lose sight of the fact that this guy is a complete shit of a human being.

tim in vermont said...

Unable to resist the urge to give one last snub to the Supreme Court justice who opposed him at every turn, President Obama will not attend the funeral of Antonin Scalia on Saturday.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest would not say if the president had anything else planned for that day.


I guess the petulant one will show a little class and wait until there are no cameras to piss on Scalia's grave.

Ann Althouse said...

Why all the politeness?

You know plenty of people are glad Scalia died. It's refreshing for some of them to just come out and say it.

Scalia liked clear speech. He knew plenty of lawprofs hated him. He leveraged some of his opinions on the fact that elite academics lavish their plaudits on the Court's liberal opinions.

Ann Althouse said...

The law school didn't have to purport to speak for the whole group. When that happens, those who feel they've been appropriated in a statement they don't want to make can feel they need to speak out and not let their silence imply agreement.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

The law school didn't have to purport to speak for the whole group. When that happens, those who feel they've been appropriated in a statement they don't want to make can feel they need to speak out and not let their silence imply agreement.

Obvious question is whether they will speak for the whole group when Ginsburg bites the dust.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I'm sick sick sick of the double standard. Liberals don't seem to think twice about demanding attention and indulgence to get on their sanctimonious soapboxes while libertarians and conservatives are expected to keep their mouths decorously shut.

Would be nice if someone would talk to mouthy liberals like they're teenagers and say "Opinions are like assholes, and not everyone is interested in yours. Get over yourself."

bgates said...

those who feel they've been appropriated in a statement they don't want to make can feel they need to speak out and not let their silence imply agreement.

That's how Joe Wilson felt about things.

bgates said...

You know plenty of people are glad Scalia died. It's refreshing for some of them to just come out and say it.

The two things I wish the left would do once in a while are talk more about their hatred for people who think like me, and point out their own gender and racial identity. I think both of those changes would be refreshing.

Gordon said...

" when Ginsburg bites the dust." Ginsburg who considered old Nino a great guy.

And it is so refreshing to see law professors behaving like dicks. But that's okay because Scalia desperately needed idiot law professors, because he couldn't write witty opinions otherwise. Bless Seidman and Peller for honoring his memory in such a way.

Michael P said...

What better tribute? You could write a witty, insightful, challenging dissent. You could reflect on the parts of his jurisprudence that you like or agree with. If there are none of those, you could remark on how clear, tight, and colorful his writing was. If that's not your speed, you could tell a story about the time he sat next to you at a dinner and suggested a nominee to the Court that he knew would be philosophically opposed to him but was very well-qualified. (Okay, maybe only Rahmbo could do that last one.)

Dissents do not have to be about how the dissenter is a special snowflake whose affiliation was appropriated by the majority.

EDH said...

Like Mike Seidman, I also was put-off by the invocation of the “Georgetown Community” in the press release that Dean Treanor issued Saturday.

And yet these inner totalitarians are the people who seek to use the power of the state to impose their wildest notions of "community" on everyone else.

When they are in charge, of course. Hence, their hatred of Scalia.

Anglelyne said...

After reading the complaints of Peller and Seidman, I had to look up their ages. They're not young. I'm disturbed by the juvenile content and tone of their remarks, pretty much indistinguishable from a whining SJW on facebook. ("...[P]eople of color, women and sexual minorities...defender of privilege, oppression and bigotry...", "...[H]arm and hurt...critique...empowerment”, blabbity blah blah blah.)

Distinguished scholars of jurisprudence, or tumblrinas? Same philosophy of life, apparently - "people who disagree with me are haters" - and very similar mode of expression, too.

Is it really the norm now for even intelligent, highly educated people to think, and express themselves, this way?

Roger Sweeny said...

I admire Peller' and Seidman's spirit of individualism and independent thinking. I hope they extend the same tolerance to a professor who doesn't want to be roped into similar groupthink after Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies.

Anglelyne, where do you think SJW's got their ideas from? And their sureness that they are better people?

buwaya puti said...

I don't know the world of American legal academics, but I assume these guys are small fish in that pond, though perhaps part of a large school, like herring.

robother said...

Ahh, the savor of fine liberal whine! Music to my ears, as it no doubt was to Scalia's.

Just like Cam Newton's sore loser presser was the icing on the cake of the Broncos' win, Obama's petulant refusal to show up at Scalia's funeral is the greatest tribute to Scalia's power: they fear and loathe him even in death.

Enjoy, enjoy!

Laslo Spatula said...

Shouldn't this get the "civility bullshit" tag?

I am Laslo.

David said...

"That isn't who we are."

Curious George said...

"Ann Althouse said...
Why all the politeness?

You know plenty of people are glad Scalia died. It's refreshing for some of them to just come out and say it."

Exactly. I'm glad Ted Kennedy died. I hope it hurt. Bad. And the world would be a better place if Seidman and Peller had died. And Scalia had not.

rhhardin said...

It's boilerplate sympathy in the first place.

The interesting thing is that somebody reads boilerplate.

mtrobertslaw said...

Peller has made two major contributions to the law. The first is his groundbreaking work in "Critical Race Theory',which made possible the discovery of "White Privilege". The second, even more important than the first, is his demonstration that that there is no such thing as "objective truth" and that this fiction is simply how the elite maintain power.

Unfortunately for Mr. Peller, he never quite recovered his balance after an insolent student asked him if it was true that there is no "objective truth".

As for Seidman, his contributions to human knowledge remain unknown.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

How brave and noble of these two fine men, denying even the pretense of fealty to bourgeoisie values like politeness and good manners. They're much too noble and true to themselves to keep quite when largely meaningless broilerplate language could possibly be interpreted as ascribing to them anything less than outright contempt for someone of whom the disapproved. Well, not just disapproved, of course, but actively looked down upon.

Some people think that according others what used to be termed "common decency" was a good thing, but of course these brave Progressives understand that nothing's more important than virtue signalling--showing the world just how wonderful they themselves are is more important than some outmoded idea of holding one's tongue regarding the recently deceased. It's probably true that these two upstanding gentlemen have made their views on Justice Scalia very clear to anyone who would listen (and many who probably didn't really want to) over the last few decades, but it's certain they believe it's never a bad time to put the focus on yourself and express your contempt for those you oppose. Civility, after all, is a tool of the oppressors, and at any rate concepts of civility are for the Left highly situational.

In that spirit, then, may I just say fuck these two insignificant self-involved third-rate pieces of shit? Good.

William said...

By most standards Oliver Wendell Holmes led an admirable life. He refused, however, to sign a stay of execution for Sacco & Vanzetti. In the measured opinion of the liberals of that era that lapse outweighed all his other accomplishments. He was the recipient of vast amounts of vituperation from people who were skilled in the vituperative arts.......I suppose you could claim that the judgment of history favors Holmes and not his critics, but you could also argue that Holmes had to endure a shitstorm in that moment and in the long arc of history both he and his critics are largely forgotten.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...Why all the politeness?

Why all the tolerance? Why all the social graces extended and expected? Why get along at all, why not just shout in people's faces 24/7, openly mock people you oppose, agitate to get people fired when you disagree with their opinions, and so on?
Why maintain the norms that help a large diverse society get along at all? Why not react to adverse rulings/votes/outcomes with an attitude of "burn this bitch down!?"

Really good point, Professor.

Beach Brutus said...

Why Civility? Because it is a bedrock virtue of a democratic republic. It is a duty for every office holder and person of public renown. Want to see the last time public civility was superseded by "truth speaking" - just pick up a copy of the Congressional Globe from the 1850's -- especially the first volume for the First Session of the 36th Congress - 1859-60. First comes war talk then comes war itself.

Michael said...

Gary Peller, an Atlanta boy born in 1955, is a bullshit artist. He lived in The SF Tenderloin before college and scammed tourists for cash by pretending to write poems for them on the spot. Poems he had, of course, written already. He is doing something of the same today with his race consciousness scribbling and with his knowledge as a construct nonsense. He is a con man landed nicely but now running the long con.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

The man in the gray flannel suit was polite. The enlightened radicals who buried him didn't need good manners.

Saying whatever you think about others feels better than holding your tongue. What were considered basic manners were restrictions on personal expression and hippies didn't see any reason for the tradition so they didn't feel obligated to follow those old rules. A conservative might have said "you know, these norms evolved over time and probably serve some important functions, maybe you ought to slow down before you chuck 'em all out." That's fuddy-duddy thinking, though, so forget those squares.

I note, though, that now that those 60's era anti-squares are in their 60s they seem to want the rest of us to act like nice, civil people. The instructions above the comment box I'm typing this into say "try to be responsive to the post, don't make personal attacks on other commenters", but why not? Wouldn't it be more honest to make personal attacks, if that's what one feels? Why be polite at all? Wouldn't it be more refreshing to see people treating each other with whatever respect (or lack thereof) they feel is warranted?

mccullough said...

Scalia went to Georgetown undergrad but went to Harvard law school. Scalia and Bill Clinton and Patrick Ewing are the most well known Georgetown alums.

Progressives hate Scalia because it's easy to focus on one person instead of hating the majority of people in the majority of states who oppose gay marriage or whatever social issue butters the parsnips of the progressives these days. Much easier to convince 5 Ivy League lawyers in black robes than a majority of your fellow Americans. They hate Scalia for telling them they aren't enlightened; they are just sore losers who don't have the social skills to change people's minds. These Georgetown law profs are losers and whiners.

Sebastian said...

"And yet... what better tribute to Justice Scalia than to be a drama queen and write a dissent?" So (apologies) you teach Scalia in such a way that rude and misplaced Prog whining could be considered a "tribute"? Got it.

I guess it is "refreshing" to see Progs show who and what they are. About as refreshing as a winter trip to Siberia.

buwaya puti said...

You can't stop the talk and restore civility.
As Brutus says, this is a pre-crisis condition. 1859 possibly, but there are a few more years maybe, during which it will only get worse until the break comes, whatever it is.
It's about time everyone understands this.
There is nothing anyone can do about this, because the breakdown comes from a series of fundamental divergence of interests that can't be papered over anymore. The US is broke, overextended, economically paralyzed, intellectually decadent, ideologically incompatible, and its institutions unsuited to the conditions.

Nichevo said...

HoodlumDoodlum said...
Ann Althouse said...Why all the politeness?

Why all the tolerance?

...


Bullet costs a quarter.

Does that answer the question?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ok, why all the Media agita over someone like Donald Trump, then? He's just speaking his mind, openly expressing himself, etc. Isn't that refreshing? Isn't that honest?

Weirdly that's not how the Media characterize Trump--he's supposed to be dangerous, boorish, vulgar, and so on.

When the Left is impolite it's noble truth-telling, refreshing, expected, and brave.
When the Right is impolite it's crass, hurtful, mean spirited, dangerous, and anti-American.

"Why all the politeness?" Some people think incentives matter and you get more of what you reward and less of what you punish. Some people think politeness is a good thing--not the most important thing, of course, but overall a good thing--and that we should encourage it in others. If one doesn't believe that then I suppose it might seem like we have an overabundance of politeness in our culture today, and maybe such a person would be happy to see less civility overall. I doubt most people would say "Americans are too polite to each other these days," but I suppose I should respect that minority opinion. Or, wait, should I? Maybe that's being too polite?

Henry said...

To extract one word from the quoted ego-screed:

Shouldn't law opinions be formalistic?

I'll even offer a vote for simplistic. How can you have a rule of law that is NOT simplistic and formalistic.

Economist Alfred E. Kahn has something to say to the drama queens:

“If you can’t describe what your model says in plain English without provoking derisive laughter, it probably doesn’t say anything of value.”

John Trek said...

A lot of wilting flowers here. I think these two are kind of dumb and they could have phrased it better, but let's not pretend that Scalia was a model of civility and restraint either.

http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2006/03/31/justice-scalias-gesture-obscene-or-not-obscene/

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Nichevo said...Bullet costs a quarter.

Does that answer the question?


The hell they do; decent .308s are more than a buck per round now, bulk. .22s have come down a bit but are still 10-12 cents for anything other than LRN, but at least you can find 'em.

Look, in a large pluralistic society such as ours it seems to me that maintaining traditions of respect and good manners is important. I see articles bemoaning the increasingly-divided nature of the American population, the coarsening of our culture and discourse, and so on, but few people seem to associate any of that with the increased blending of the personal and political spheres of life. This, again, was a 60's radical idea, and when combined with the vastly expanded size and scope of the government has meant that it's increasingly difficult to maintain polite disagreements among friends. In the past you could support a politician or party or ideology without making that support integral to your life. That's still possible, of course, but it's increasingly difficult. Personally I don't think that's a good thing, generally, and getting rid of the idea of politeness as a social lubricant that allows people with vastly different views to nevertheless get along together also strikes me as bad.

I will admit the inconsistency of the Left on the issue ticks me off (when it's some topic they care about they demand trigger warnings, label ideas they don't like hate speech/verbal assault, ban people from speaking, etc, but when it's some idea they favor they can be as blunt and impolite as they like and then applaud themselves for their honesty and forthrightness), but I think there is a deeper issue worth addressing.

Maybe everyone should be encouraged to think deeply about why politeness might be important and valuable.

LYNNDH said...

I will be polite and just say Screw the Left. Why be polite to those that think that is a sign of weakness. Shout down their speakers at colleges, disrupt meetings, get in their face.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

John Trek said...
A lot of wilting flowers here.


That's sexist, John Trek, and unacceptably gender normative. Flowers are associated with femininity and you're using a phrase that associates femininity with weakness. Women can be strong, John, and you ought not use harmful language that implies otherwise--doing so is patriarchal and attacks vulnerable women, girls, the transgendered, and those who identify as female. Women are people, John, and they deserve respect.

I'm not sure I feel comfortable sharing a forum with someone who expresses such a hurtful sentiment. I might have to research what's needed to ban someone who has such potential to harm others with their painful words. Maybe if you were forced to take a sensitivity course you'd be more empathetic in the future.

Some Seppo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Some Seppo said...

I know plenty of people will be glad when Bob Dylan dies. It will be refreshing for some of them to just come out and say it.

Big Mike said...

"And yet... what better tribute to Justice Scalia than to be a drama queen and write a dissent?"

Is that your view of Scalia, Professor Althouse, that he was a drama queen?

buwaya said...

Civility is downstream of interests.
If the stakes are high and if, looking forward, they are likely going to get much higher, there isn't much scope or use for civility.
Its fine and dandy to complain about hypocrisy and etc. but that doesn't get at the root of the problem.
This is like a marriage where both husband and wife are openly committing adultery.
That they rain invective on each other is the least of their problems.

CStanley said...

I don't see how it can be twisted into interpretation as tribute, but it does stand as a contrast to his character.

Bay Area Guy said...

Listening to Professor Peller criticize the great Justice Scalia, reminds me of a fat, drunk keg softball player in the stands criticizing the baseball swing of Barry Bonds.

Peller needs to recognize his low station in life.

DKWalser said...

In another context, don't think either professor would have objected to the dean of the school expressing the "community's" commitment to diversity. And they would have strongly and loudly resented any faculty who had the temerity to claim that the dean didn't speak for everyone. No, it's alright for the dean to express an opinion on behalf of the entire community as long as that opinion is the 'correct" opinion. Otherwise, the dean had better shut up.

hombre said...

"And yet... what better tribute to Justice Scalia than to be a drama queen and write a dissent?"

Moreover, what better confirmation of the politicization and intellectual narrowness of America's lefty law schools.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Why not chalk your message onto public statues when you feel passionately about some issue? You ought to be able to express yourself, after all, and freedom of expression is an important and protected right.

SGT Ted said...

Professor Peller is just being the usual hateful progressive asshole. It is predictable.

rehajm said...

For now, then, all I’ll say is that I disagree with these sentiments and that expressions attributed to the “Georgetown Community...”

By For now he's apparently referring to the time from the time you're reading For now until you reach the end of the sentence, since he spends the rest of the email with his 'dissent'. Does this mean there's more to come later? I can hardly wait...

Dan Hossley said...

Their statements are the law school equivalent of a selfie.

Birches said...

Ginsburg who considered old Nino a great guy.

This. The Notorious RGB considered him one of her closest friends, how in the world can't they just follow her lead on this?nnOr do they want to bring her in next for reeducation because of her association with "impure" elements.

Beldar said...

It would only be a tribute if you could do it as well as Scalia wrote his dissents.

Which this putz hasn't, and can't.

hombre said...

Althouse: "You know plenty of people are glad Scalia died. It's refreshing for some of them to just come out and say it."

"Refreshing?"

Evidently,someone has to come down on the side of "boorish is cool." Our hostess shows a penchant for it.

Anglelyne said...

HoodlumDoodlum: Look, in a large pluralistic society such as ours it seems to me that maintaining traditions of respect and good manners is important. I see articles bemoaning the increasingly-divided nature of the American population, the coarsening of our culture and discourse, and so on, but few people seem to associate any of that with the increased blending of the personal and political spheres of life.

Interesting viewpoint. The loss of a distinction between public sphere and private sphere, public self and private self, is, I think, a fascinating factor in the ongoing disintegration of civic life.

But there is a contradiction here between the need to maintain norms of civility in a "large pluralistic society" and the fact that it is size and pluralism in themselves that begin to erode the possibility of shared norms of civility. Contrary to the fond beliefs of multiculturalists, the end point of dogmatic pluralism (aka diversity) is a society where coercion and suppression is necessary to keep the lid on groups with competing, irreconcilable cultural norms of public/political life. I think we may be reaching that point. European countries already have.

Smith Johns said...

Now some student are very week in math. Actually i am very week in math. My home tutor is very helpful. He solve my math problem. Some time if i don't write essay then i feel i need research paper writing help. Really they are very famous on line writer now. Maximum teacher suggest them for their student.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

It's really frightening that some of those shaping the next generation of lawyers evidently have no compunctions about demonstrating that it's right and proper to treat those with whom we disagree as unpersons worthy of loathing and contempt. That will end well.

tim maguire said...

Virtue signalling--it's not enough not to mourn, they have to make sure everybody knows they're not mourning.

Louis Michael Seidman wrote: Our norms of civility preclude criticizing public figures immediately after their death. For now, then, all I’ll say is that I disagree with these sentiments

What a dick.

Enjoin This! said...

Louis Michael Seidman wrote: Our norms of civility preclude criticizing public figures immediately after their death. For now, then, all I’ll say is that I disagree with these sentiments

Wow. Just, wow.

Professor Seidman can use proslepsis. He must be so smart. His defenders call him funny and intelligent. Maybe even a successful real world lawyer (class actions, supposedly; I've seen naught, though it's not my field). But the conclusion I jump to is that he's a petty, little man incapable of checking his first instinct of smugness, condescension, and self-satisfaction. I also sense he feels entitled to broadcast His Opinion to the larger world. All in all, contemptable.

I'm willing to consider I'm wrong. I've said/written things in the heat of passion I've later regretted. But his conduct (though honest) was ungracious and self-congratulatory.

So who cares? Here's how it would play out in my neighborhood. After 20+ years in big city big firm practice, my shop plays hard but fair. We'll regularly extend professional courtesies even under trying circumstances. We try not to unnecessarily embarrass opposing counsel.

I don't feel that way so much here. Gosh, Professor Seidman, I hope you come to play in my neighborhood soon.

-ET!

Eric said...

Lefties are all class.

mikee said...

Can Justice Ginsburg expect, then, a loud but polite silence from the Right upon her passing?

Robert Holmgren said...

Myself, I'm pro-Peller.