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Brian Leiter Trying To Out Juan Non-Volokh:

Prof. Leiter criticizes Juan's criticism of one of Leiter's posts, and proceeds to say:

So who is Juan Non-Volokh? I intend to find out and to post that information here in due course. I welcome your help ... and I promise to keep my sources secret!

I will let you folks be the judges of whether this is good behavior on Prof. Leiter's part. In my view, the nicer thing to do is to respect people's preference for anonymity, at least unless there are some unusual circumstances (more than just disagreement with their views) that are absent here.

UPDATE: Brian Leiter says here that he won't publicly identify Juan, though in this update to his original post he says that "perhaps" he won't do it. If the first of these two is indeed the conclusion to which he has come, then I'm happy to hear it.

Harry Niska (mail):
Just in case there was any remaining doubt that Brian Leiter is a jerk...

I thought this part was especially amusing:


Mr. Non-Volokh, meanwhile, professes to be in the dark as to what could be deemed "insulting." Putting aside the misreadings designed to make the target look ridiculous, how about this line from Mr. Non-Volokh's second posting: "I doubt Leiter knows anything about the history of fascism. Intellectually, the progressive left has a lot more in common with it than the 'libertarian right' (the real liberals)." Was this claim about my ignorance, and allying me with fascism, intended as a compliment?

Putting aside the fact that these were not the words of Mr. Non-Volokh, but actually the words of the non-anonymous "VC reader Steven Hamori", I find this amazingly thin-skinned coming from a guy who is accusing everyone to the right of Cass Sunstein on the political spectrum (including Prof. Sunstein) of being fascists.
6.22.2005 1:41pm
John Jenkins (mail):
I don't know of anyone at this point who takes Leiter seriously. He's a pompous jerk, and whatever his academic credentials may be, nothing can overcome the fact that he is uncivl and unhinged.
6.22.2005 1:45pm
Mike Z (mail) (www):
The good Dr Leiter has an oddly ambivalent notion - he aims to break Mr Non-Volokh's anonymity, but insists on keeping his sources anonymous.

That's cognitive dissonance worse than an augmented 9th chord.
6.22.2005 1:48pm
Ryan J. Cooper:
This is the first time I've been motivated to comment on a blog posting. That being said, it's unfortunate that very intelligent people can display such poor judgment.

This disagreement is noteworthy for both sides' errors. I've been reading the VC and not Leiter Reports regularly, so if I have any bias its in favor of the former, yet I feel Leiter's posts get the better of the argument. Juan Non-Volokh choose a very small portion of Leiter's post to criticize out of context with the real substance of the post. And, when this was noted, continued with ad hominem attacks on stereotypical leftists rather than address whether his criticism were out of context or not.

On the other hand, Leiter's attempts to 'out' JNV are equally unprofessional. It's ashame he can't rest on the merits of his arguments. Unethical, doubtful. Not nice, as you suggest in your post, sure.
6.22.2005 1:53pm
Anonymous:
Leiter's threat is petty and vindictive, albeit utterly predictable for someone who willingly admits to his contempt for civility (see here and here). (BTW, that's why Leiter is probably not going to care what anyone thinks is the "nicer thing to do.")
6.22.2005 2:04pm
Gary Imhoff (mail) (www):
Currently on Mr. Leiter's home page is a posting, "'Left-Wing' Is a Matter of Perspective," in which Leiter approvingly quotes at length an anonymous Irish law student who approvingly cites a previous Leiter posting, "The Myth of Left-Wing Harvard," which "outs" Harvard as a right-wing institution. The anonymous Irish quotation is in service of saying how much further to the right most American law schools are, and how little influence the left has in American academia. Leiter closes the message with a final sentence of his own: "I love Austin and the UT Law School, but can there be any doubt that I'm in the wrong country?"

Well, come to think of it, no. There can't be any doubt.
6.22.2005 2:16pm
Goober (mail):
Mike Z---that's not actually what cognitive dissonance means.

Well, I don't suppose there's any harm in revealing that Juan Non-Volokh is in fact mild-mannered Daily Planet reporter---oops! Wrong note card.
6.22.2005 2:27pm
Fabian:
Ryan Cooper is right on all counts. "JNV" was out of line. So is Leiter. Neither has engaged in "good behavior". That having been said, I fail to see why Leiter would be motivated to behave politely toward "JNV" when "JNV" has behaved rudely toward Leiter.

In that regard, this is about more than the "just disagreement with ther views" that Volokh suggests. Leiter's point, as I see it, is that the manner in which "JNV" has chosen to disagree is intellectually dishonest in a way that should be embarrassing to an academic regardless of the academic's ideological views. Thus, there is a disconnect between the stated reason for "JNV's" anonymity -- fear of reprisal for expressing conservative views -- and what JNV is actually using it for -- to launch decidedly un-acadamic ad hominem attacks without paying the appropriate reputational price.
6.22.2005 2:31pm
Dave! (mail) (www):
I think Ryan is on target. I'm amazing how seemingly intelligent people can so often display such staggering lack of social grace. Neither Leiter nor JNV come off looking very good, in my opinion.

I'm pretty left of center, but I'm certainly no fan of Leiter (far from it). However, I do think hiding behind the cloak of anonymity (understanding there may be valid reasons for it)lends itself to taking cheap shots, so to speak. However you feel about Leiter, at least we have a greater picture of his perspective.
6.22.2005 2:31pm
gekkobear (mail):
I believe only one response to his trying to "out" an anonymous blogger is appropriate...

I AM SPARTACUS
6.22.2005 2:37pm
Teresa (mail) (www):
I've never read Mr. Leiter's work. And I really don't have to have read it. Why? Because knowing the "real" identity of Juan Non-Volokh is not necessary for the disagreement to be waged over the postings and their interpretations.

Mr Leiter says "whatever he posts about"
JNV says "he disagrees with what was posted - especially certain bits"
Mr. Leiter... instead of arguing the points now says JNV must be unmasked because this will vindicate his argument

How does identifying JNV lend any weight to Mr. Leiter's arguments? It doesn't make any sense. If Mr. Leiter doesn't like Juan... doesn't feel like arguing with an anonymous blogger - then he should just ignore him! It's really very simple.

The quest to unmask Juan Non-Volokh is an admission that Mr. Leiter can't figure out how to defend his own position. (that doesn't mean it can't be defended - just that he isn't able to think of a good defense himself) The perfect solution in that case is to switch the focus from the post to the poster. It's an old tactic in political discourse... we shouldn't be surprised it turns up in blogging too.
6.22.2005 2:39pm
Anonymous:
If the debate is touching on the merits of JNV's interpretation of Leiter's original post, Leiter is all wet. He complains to high heaven that JNV misinterpreted him, that JNV can't read, etc. But wherein lies the misreading?

Leiter's original post said:
in every society of which I'm aware the vast majority of the preeminent academic figures were, in general, cowards when it came to their own regimes, and apologists for what later generations would see clearly as inhumanity and illegality. This was clear in Germany in the 1930s, as it was in America in the 1950s. There is no reason to think the United States today is any different.
Now it seems pretty clear what Leiter was doing here: He was classifying Nazi Germany, McCarthyist America, and America today as examples of "inhumanity and illegality." So JNV pointed out that Leiter was suggesting some sort of "equivalence" though without "equat[ing]" the three.

Leiter's response said, "There was obviously no equation of Nazi Germany with the United States, but rather the observation that 'preeminent academic figures' in all societies (even the most heinous, like Nazi Germany) tend, in general, to be apologists for the status quo."

Really? That's all that his original post had said? That prominent academics tend to apologize for the "STATUS QUO"?

No. That won't do at all. Leiter's original post wasn't talking about the tendency of academics to apologize for the "status quo" of Social Security, or the welfare state, or administrative regulation, or the estate tax, or any of the other aspects of the "status quo." Instead, his original post clearly said that Bush's actions are an example of "inhumanity and illegality" along with Nazi Germany and McCarthyist America. If he wasn't intending to imply some sort of equivalence there, he should learn how to write English in a way that isn't so highly misleading. Maybe read up on the notion of implicatures.
6.22.2005 2:48pm
Cheburashka (mail):
Anyone in the legal academy who either hasn't figured out who Juan is or has the slightest interest in making that public doesn't belong in the legal academy.
6.22.2005 2:50pm
Anonymous:
I nearly forgot: Look back at the original post again. Leiter has nothing but dismissive words for originalism:
Why is a "contemporary understanding of the words the Constitution uses" a basis for misunderstanding as opposed to correct understanding? Why is it even remotely relevant what those words meant when the Constitution was adopted?
Well, what's sauce for the goose, etc. Who cares what Leiter now says was his intent when he drafted the original post? How is it "remotely relevant what those words meant when the [original post] was [drafted]?" Even if JNV mistook Leiter's intent, aren't we all free to place a different interpretation on Leiter's words? Surely we shouldn't be constricted by a hidebound literalism dependent on the intent of that post's Framer.
6.22.2005 2:56pm
Crank (mail) (www):
I admit that I am mostly familiar with Leiter from his debates with Stuart Buck, in which Leiter behaved abominably. But this furthers the notion that Leiter is an intellectual bully whose natural instinct, upon encountering disagreement, is to inflict harm on the person disagreeing rather than demonstrate the superiority of his own arguments. It is frightening to think that such persons should hold positions of authority in academia. I would advise anyone attending UT Law School to keep as wide a berth from Prof. Leiter as possible.
6.22.2005 3:05pm
Javier (mail):
I agree with Anonymous here: where's Non-Volokh's misreading? I can't find a plausible way of reading the passage that's different from the way Non-Volokh read it.

Second, where did Non-Volokh insult Brian Leiter? I can definitely find where Leiter insults Non-Volokh in very mean-spirited and rude ways, but I can't seem to place where Non-Volokh does the same.

Bottom Line: Brian Leiter is a jerk.
6.22.2005 3:06pm
Me:
Brian Leiter is a jerk. But so is JNV. And on top of that, JNV is a coward for hiding behind a pseudonym. I, for one, see nothing wrong with trying to "out" JNV, and I hope he succeeds.
6.22.2005 3:16pm
anonymity rules:
Why should Leiter care so extremely what an anonymous blogger writes? Does Leiter's head simply explode when he visits a non-lefty blog? opens his morning paper? turns on C-span? overhears disagreeable table chatter?

Now, I personally don't think JNV's blog-chatter was illuminating--the VC is good when it's smart people writing about what they know, not when it's smart people reprinting Clayton Cramer and a correspondent (citing Wikipedia!) about the finer points of fascism. But so what? Respond or ignore and move on. There's no cause for bluster and threats.
6.22.2005 3:17pm
Anonoymous (mail):
It's worth noting that in his spat with the "XOXOHTH" message board a few months back, Brian Leiter sent an email to this very blog using the anonymous handle "lawprof" to make it seem like multiple people were angry about the message board when it was, in fact, just him. Unlike Mr. Non-Volokh, who is entitled to use whatever moniker he chooses, Mr. Leiter actually used an anonymous name unethically by trying to trick other people into thinking he was someone else.

When XOXOHTH published a note that made him look bad (click here ) Mr. Leiter actually threatened on his blog to sue the moderators and even sue unnamed posters to the message board for unstated reasons. (Click here ) Needless to say, he did not follow up on this, because he had no real argument, and his entry reflected far more poorly on him than it did the message board.

Bottom line: Mr. Leiter is very embarrassing and no one I have ever spoken to, student or professor, takes him seriously.
6.22.2005 3:30pm
Anon:
I've been reasonably sure of JNV's identity for quite a long time. If I'm right, he's a reasonably prominent young associate professor who writes on the topics that JNV writes on, including for the popular press. Perhaps Leiter should write less about, say, the coming draft (where is that draft, by the way? weren't we promised it by now?) and read more in his field.

Leiter has more than a bit of gall to complain about being insulted, if you ask me. He insulted four professors in his original post. He followed that post up with the attack on another law professor, JNV. He tells us that harsh language--such as was used in his original attack on Sunstein, et al--is appropriate in cases involving intellectual or moral dishonesty, which suggests that he's upped the ante a bit on his original attacks. All the while Leiter parades his own supposed moral and intellectual superiority, acting more like a spoiled undergrad than an academic. And now he wants to act the bully, attempting to threaten JNV's tenure process (just as he once made threats to Stuart Buck about his academic prospects).

And we're supposed to be worried about JNV's anonymity and Leiter's tender sensibilities!
6.22.2005 3:43pm
Wurlitzer:
I agree with Cheburashka: it is not such a secret who JNV is. (Frankly, his writings under his own name are no different from his posts on VC, so I don't understand his need to use a pseudonym here. I would imagine that an affiliation with the VC would only benefit his academic reputation given the quality of the open-bloggers here.) The fact that Leiter cannot figure it out on his own is merely a poor reflection on Leiter.
6.22.2005 3:47pm
Eh Nonymous (mail) (www):
Howdy, folks.

I'd like to introduce myself; that's my real name, e-mail, and blawg address. I notice that in our comments, we VC readers too often either go anonymously as trolls- HI! Anonymous up there with no url! - or pretend we are writing solely to an audience consisting of the post author.

I'd like to commend Fabian and others for noting that there are others in this commentary thread.

That said, I'd like to insult and mock Teresa - HI! Teresa- for saying that she need not consider one of the two sides in order to rule. Teresa, you seem intelligent, and you'd make a terrible judge.

Also, those anonymous posters who attack Leiter on other grounds, such as his leftyism, or his passionate but intellectually challenging attack on originalism, not as a preferred mode but even as a legitimate (to him) method of political and constitutional discourse, ... what are you doing?

This is about a dispute between JNon-V (a pun on JNOV?) and Leiter, involving a threat to unmask the former, and some rather, as noted above in other comments, intemperate, out-of-context, and ad hominem attacks on the latter. Why is the rest of their writing relevant, except as it's, well, relevant?

We should be discussing rudeness (see Fabian et al. above), or anonymity (see, for example, JNonV's statements in prior posts, or other discussions on other blogs of anonymity, I would point to Evan Schaeffer's blawg's guest post by Lee Walker, available here: The Trouble with Anonymous Blogging). But let's focus, okay?

Also, please visit my blawg/flame me for being anonymous! Have a nice day!
6.22.2005 3:49pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail):
I have emailed Mr. Leiter asking him to reconsider his attempt to out Mr. (Ms?) Non-Volokh. Without taking sides in their bickering, I feel strongly about the value of internet anonymity. I litigate, sporadicly and ineffectively, about this topic. Majors.blogspot.com. In the email, I copied a recent blog post (june 21, http://vark.blogspot.com) in which I solicit Leiter's mother's phone number, so we could call her and ask her to ask her son to behave himself. Similarly I welcome any such personal info on Leiter which ordinarily I would have no interest in. Perhaps this comment itself won't pass the standard for polite and civil comments here, and I won't be troubled if it is removed. I don't care if JNV and Leiter want to call each other names or otherwise disagree. I do care when a blogger takes the dispute out of the blogosphere and sets someone up to be hassled, maybe fired or otherwise, in the so called real world. In the Valerie Plame case, disclosure to the FEC resulted in people being killed. I think Leiter is seriously out of line. I have responded in kind, and lack objectivity as to whether my response is a reasonable or appropriate one.
6.22.2005 3:50pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Ryan et al -- JNV explicitly disclosed that he was commenting on a point at the end of a long Leiter post which Leiter had described as tangential. It may be bad form to criticize a secondary point as if it represented the primary point, but there's nothing per se wrong with criticizing a secondary point.

I find it particularly ironic that Leiter rants that JNV "ought to own his words, so that he can enjoy their consequences as well," when Leiter never owns his own words; he simply insults those who point out his idiocies as "misreaders" of his words. Either he's a spectacularly bad writer, such that he never says what he means, or he is lacking in anything resembling intellectual integrity. (I do not discount the possibility that both are true.)


But what it boils down to with Leiter, as always, is a lack of maturity. Consider:
1) Not only is he routinely rude and abusive, but he tries to argue that it's justified because it's Truth. It's a slightly more modern version of, "Hey, man, I'm just cutting through the b.s. Power to the people."
2) He regularly engages in ridiculous name-calling. I'm no fan of the religious right either, but the "Texas Taliban"? Either he doesn't know anything about the real Taliban, or it's yet another juvenile cry for attention.
3) He exhibits obsessions with rankings. My dickschool is bigger than your dickschool. U.S. News does it as a money-making gimmick; what's Leiter's excuse?

Of course, some of it may be explained, if not excused, by the fact that he is unmoored from political reality; consider that he describes such politicians as Kerry and Gore as "moderate conservatives" because they're not as far left as Chomsky.
6.22.2005 4:18pm
Leighton Moore (mail):
I find it strange that at least two commenters have failed to see more than one way of reading Leiter's remarks about 1930s Germany, 1950s America, and our time and place. Leiter generalized that most academics fail to challenge practices of their regimes that, in historical hindsight, seem clearly unjust. He supported this generalization with the examples of 1930s Germany and 1950s America, and then concluded that the same is likely to be true today.

I see in that argument no claim that the injustices of our regime are as bad as the injustices of the McCarthy era or of Nazi Germany. The general claim is that whatever the injustices of the relevant regime might be, most academics fail to challenge them. The particular conclusion is that this is true today. The examples actually support this conclusion more strongly if the injustices of those times were more egregious than those of ours, because if academics were generally blind to greater injustices then, they (assuming a certain degree of continuity in the "they") are quite likely to be blind to lesser injustices now. The other comparison may also have been intended, but is not the most salient one to me (because unnecessary to the argument).

Mr. Leiter may be all the things people are calling him above, but the criticisms of him would be more credible if they did not appear to be based on a tendentious reading of his remarks.

I, for one, vote against outing Juan non-Volokh, whether or not he or she was uncivil to Leiter, because the name makes me chuckle.
6.22.2005 4:21pm
Teresa (mail) (www):
"That said, I'd like to insult and mock Teresa - HI! Teresa- for saying that she need not consider one of the two sides in order to rule. Teresa, you seem intelligent, and you'd make a terrible judge."

ROFLMAO!!! Oh I like that - very good Eh Nonymous... maybe I wasn't clear in my posting - I have never read Mr. Leiter's blog - but I also didn't read Juan's post to him either. So, I'm impartially ignoring them both on the substance of the post itself. *grin* My only comment was on outing Juan in order to argue with him/her. *** still laughing *** BTW - yes I'd make a terrible judge... I don't think they allow for an "off with their heads" verdict anymore...
6.22.2005 4:31pm
3L:
1. I don't think that all anonymous bloggers are created equal.

If I blogged under my real name and took full responsibility for my words, and someone chose to debate with me under a pseudonym, I'd feel as though I were at an unfair disadvantage. Leiter posts his thoughts, and people know who he is, what he does, what he's said and written before, what he looks like, where he lives, etc.

As much as people like "Juan" may have legitimate reasons for remaining anonymous, they still deserve to be called out every now and then for claiming the protection of anonymity. Anonymous bloggers risk nothing when they post anonymously and deserve a "who the hell are you?" response when they attempt to engage with real people. Anonymous bloggers are entitled to anonymity, but they're not entitled to the same amount of respect as real people.

That said, if you're going to blog anonymously, "Juan" is probably the model of how to do it respectably. He explains his anonymity, gives a few details about who he actually is/what he actually does, gives a contact e-mail address, and uses the same pseudonym so that all of the opinions he expresses in the anonymous carveout of himself can be connected to the same source. I think that people who post anonymously in this manner are better than people who use anonymity just to vent.

2. Brian Leiter is an angry troll who takes everyone who disagrees with him and accused them of stupidity, illiteracy, residence in some remote country, or something else. He claims that he only uses harsh language when disagreement with him is "stupid or absurd, or, in short, intellectually and morally dishonest, and so not worth its time." I doubt that he believes that there is any other kind of disagreement with him.

He occasionally makes some good points, but on this particular issue, I don't think it's worth wading through the invective to figure out what his point is. If "Brian Leiter is pissed off at you" is your only reason for doing something (e.g. outing a co-blogger), it's probably not worth doing.
6.22.2005 4:47pm
carpundit (www):
Late to the party, I'll say only this:

If one achieves fame behind a mask, one risks that another will attempt to remove it. It is predictable and understandable. And I'd like to know who JNV is, not being myself a member of the "legal academy."
6.22.2005 4:48pm
Deep Throat (mail) (www):
All of you are missing the real dynamic that is happening here. Juan Non-Volokh is in fact none other than Brian Leiter blogging in disguise. As it happens, Leiter has only been posing as an outspoken, left-of-Chomsky idealogue for all of these years because he figured that it would improve his tenure prospects. Having achieved his goal, he now finds himself stuck in the persona that he has created for himself.

Make no mistake about it, our friend in Austin is deep, deep in the closet. He is really a libertarian Southern Baptist with "God is a Republican" mudflaps any one of those ICTHUS-eating-Darwin's-fish insignias on his souped-up monster truck.

Brian be true to your inner self!!
6.22.2005 4:52pm
Anonymouse (mail):
I love Leiter's promise to preserve his sources' anonymity. Because he's been so good about respecting Internet anonymity in the past.
6.22.2005 5:07pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
Considering the bloggers like Dean Esmay who have recieved death threats, and like Kate at Electric Venom who had child protective services called on her, I'm very happy with my decision to remain anonymous.

I've looked at Juan's posts, and one would have to have very thin skin to call them insulting. Gentlemanly comes to mind.

Yours,
Wince
6.22.2005 5:12pm
Anonymous:
Quoting Professor Leiter,

"There are occasions, to be sure, where anonymity is warranted, but, in general, I am of the view that people should own their words--among other things, they tend to behave better when they must own their words"

Too bad Brian doesn't live up to his own standards:

Brian Leiter contacting Eugene Volokh as an "anonymous law prof" to attack a law student who outdid his law school rankings

Then again, having your research [sic] discredited by a first year law student probably falls under his "occasions when anonymity is warranted" exception.
6.22.2005 5:21pm
Concerned Citizen:
I'd like to hear from UT Law students or anyone else who has met Professor Leiter in person: in the real world, face-to-face, does he act like the same person who makes the postings on his blog?
6.22.2005 5:37pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Several people beat me to the point that Leiter has wilfully and grossly mischaracterized his own writings, namely that the logical implication of what he argued about academics is that the actions of American today they are likely cowardly apologists for will be seen by later generations as "inhumanity and illegality". Leiter's response is beyond argument ad hominem; it can only be seen as a threat to JN-V's professional future for daring to accurately call out Leiter for an argument that most of the readers of JN-V's post likely find immoral and reprehensible.

Leiter's juvenile snarkiness is further evident in his insinuations that conservatives must be fascist because otherwise we would just laugh off the comparison. Of course, not only is that still considered by many to be "fighting words" (and Chaplinsky is still good law until overruled), but ignoring a charge of fascism (or racism or antisemitism) will be widely seen as an admission of its truth.

Leiter's future probably lies as the Ted Rall Professor of Law[sic] (check out Leiter's posts on civility, linked to by Anonymous, if you don't understand the reference).

Nick
6.22.2005 5:41pm
guest:
hes nice in person in my experience
6.22.2005 6:03pm
Crank (mail) (www):
This older post by Pejman has some useful background on Leiter; Pejman had assembled a fairly long rap sheet on Leiter's crimes against civility as of 2003.

One thing I've noticed is that "argument from authority," which serves as the basis of much of Leiter's grievance against JNV's anonymity, is an extremely common method of argument among left-leaning academic pundits/bloggers (I'm thinking here specifically of Leiter, Mark Kleiman, Paul Krugman, Brad DeLong, and Juan Cole). I rarely see the Conspirators, Glenn Reynolds or other center-right academic pundits/bloggers use this style of argument. I won't speculate here as to why that is, though I have a few ideas.
6.22.2005 6:28pm
BryanDB:
Crank,
Unless I'm totally misunderstanding your argument, it seems kind of funny to use "argument from authority" as a pejorative when dealing with lawyers.
6.22.2005 6:59pm
Another anonymous prof (mail):
As a colleague of Brian Leiter's, I find one of the most unfortunate aspects of these smears on his reputation to be the suggestion in this and some of the other threads that he is vindictive based on politics. I have been on the faculty longer than he, and have served with him on various committees. He has, in fact, probably pushed the appointment of as many conservative/libertarian candidates as anyone I can think of. A few names that come to mind: Steve Bainbridge, Andrew Kull, John Duffy, Lynn Baker, Kate Litvak. His rhetorical style can be overheated at times, but he is, in fact, someone who distinguishes between the intellectual merits and the politics. (I would list the "left" candidates he has trashed, but that would probably not be appropriate.)
6.22.2005 7:04pm
Michael B (mail):
"His rhetorical style can be overheated at times ..." Another Anon Prof

Still, the primary subject is outting someone who has chosen, like yourself, to remain anonymous within certain, not all, forums.

Re, the subsidiary subject, your response to that is an understatement of enormous proportions, regardless of any other, contrasting merits.

Re, the perceived need for non-tenured professors to either seek anonymity or otherwise carefully craft their responses in various fora perhaps reflects an all too real concern about ideological/political bias in all too many academic settings? Could Leiter's own heat in this area, even conceivably in your opinion, be cause for such a perception?

One might look forward to your reply, and if anonymity continues to be opted for, most would respect that choice.
6.22.2005 7:39pm
Anonymous:
Another anonymous prof, the only person smearing Brian Leiter's reputation is Brian Leiter himself. He has engaged in personal attacks against Richard Heck, Josh Cherniss, David Bernstein, Glenn Reynolds, Steve Sachs, Stuart Buck, Dan Drezner, Lawrence VanDyke, Anthony Ciolli, and now Juan Non-Volokh, and many others.

What did law students like VanDyke and Ciolli, or young untenured profs like Juan Non-Volokh do to justify Brian Leiter threatening to end their careers, other than the crime of disagreeing with him? VanDyke wasn't even addressing Leiter's own work, all he did was write a favorable book review about an author that Brian disagrees with. All Ciolli did was write a note improving on Leiter's employment study; in fact, he even praised Leiter several times in his piece. What did he do to deserve that kind of reaction, other than commit the egregious sin of not ranking Texas in his top 10? And finally, what has Juan Non-Volokh done to have Leiter threaten his anonymity and tenure prospects? Disagree with him.

It doesn't matter what Brian is like in person or in the classroom, his internet persona betrays his real personality. Most people outgrew Leiter's debate [sic] tactics in junior high. The best thing Leiter could do to improve his reputation is to stop using his blog like the bully pulpit (which, by the way, loses its effectiveness each time he engages in a VanDyke-style smear campaign) and instead use it to engage in civil discourse like every other law professor.
6.22.2005 8:18pm
Anonymous:
This is neither here nor there (well, now it's here), but there's a spoof blogger who recently took square aim at Leiter's blogging habits:
The ORIGINAL Leiter Reports
I forgot to point out a funny thing(memory) about Brian Leiter of the incommensible Leiter Reports . I already mentioned how we went to highschool together but I didnt' say the best part. I don't knwo why this didn't occur to me earlier but its rather ironic that he would of ended up found his way into doing Leiter Reports when, afterall. He was did the exact same stuff when were in highschool together! In a way it is SO like him :):):)

Let me explain alittle about waht I mean. At my high school there were these things we use to call cleeks. There was cool kids. Not so cool kids. Band geeks. Drama weirdos. Jocks. Others. Within these cleeks(and without) there was also lots of Hierarchys. (This is where some better then other's- some on the rise some on the fall- some pretty some not-ect)

Brian (he use to sit in fron of me in US history AP) was fascainated by all these differing's rankings. (See where Im' headed). He use to like to analyze the different social structure's of the highschool (a VERY mathematical/anaytical mind). And I would hear about it from him a lot before class. "Last year Tamika was more popular then Sharon but this year I think Sharon has passed her by". "Kim lost her boyfriend and ever since- popularity down the tube's". "Two year's ago I'd of never thought Russell would be popular but ever since he went out for water polo". Et cetera. I even got the ranking's of my self(not going to say what they were-Privacy issue's).

Unfortunately. The popular kids didn't relly like Brian be so observeant like this. (I think they just self conscious). He use to get put in garbage cans. Once duct taped to a pole(the flagpole no less-add insult to injury). There was the time he was tied up(tape over mouth/hands behind back/legs) and put in the girls lockerrom shower. It was something bad(I use to fell sorry for him- thats why I would listen to his ranking's). But he used his BRAIN to overcome because this is why he joined the football team. He explained to me that by his calculation's it was the most optimal way to improve his Popularity.

But so Brian perservered. "This is information people need" he use to say. He would half the time tell me his new rankings(at some point it became alittle newsletter he started typing/distribute from his Mac himself at own cost-because school newspaper wouldn't allow) and spend the other half the time tell me why his rankings so important/useful for people to have. I kind of admire him for this. he RELLY took it seriously.

So you see? Looking back (in retroscept) I now realize that these were the very ORIGINAL Leiter Reports. (He didn't call it this. He called it something liek "Brian's Picks - Whose Hot whose not".

The format was something different(he had many many different categories- Best Dressed Girl, Buffest Guy, Biggest Party Hardier ect) but its amazing to see how all the basic ingredients were there. Who would know that he would grow up to do the same type of thing for a living. Its helarious/charming in a way(Like end of Animal house where you see what they do when they grow up). It makes total sense the more you thing about it.
6.22.2005 8:47pm
Guest:
Leiter's hysterically ad-hominem histrionics, and his strangely fascist desire to learn his political opponents' secrets, stand in stark contrast to JN-V's calm critique of the actual subject matter, namely:

it was hilariously wrong for Leiter to assert that American academics are at all hesitant to criticize the Bush regime or its policies. No amount of insults, attempts at "outing," and chop-logic can disguise that simple fact.
6.22.2005 8:52pm
Bob Flynn (mail):
Professor Leiter is an embittered, left-wing geek, who now poses as an academic bully, while running his daily "gossip" column on which professor, gets which job, blah, blah, blah. Pure inside baseball, that no sane man would ever care about.

The irony, though, is that he may well be a good professor at Texas -- but he is hostile and petty on the internet, particularly to academic types who cross his path, espousing differing viewpoints.
6.22.2005 9:07pm
JSLB:
"As a colleague of Brian Leiter's, I find one of the most unfortunate aspects of these smears on his reputation to be the suggestion in this and some of the other threads that he is vindictive based on politics."

We have a winner! I was wondering how long it would take Leiter to chime in — anonymously, of course — to plump himself and insult his opponents.
6.22.2005 9:14pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
I do not think piling on Professor Leiter is what Eugene had in mind when he opened comments.

Yours,
Wince
6.22.2005 9:23pm
someone who knows Leiter:
In response to Concerned Citizen:

I know Brian Leiter. I don't know him well, but have taken a class with him and have met him in a variety of situations outside of class at UT-Austin.

I have found him to be an unfailingly generous and friendly person. Yes, sometimes in conversation his comments may have a somewhat sardonic tone, but he is always humorous, civil, and friendly. I have seen Leiter go out of his way to be courteous and inclusive to people of all political stripes.

One time, by e-mail, I asked him to clarify a comment he had made on my work in his class, and I was struck by how much care went into his response to my casual query. He went way beyond the call of duty and I have always admired that.

He really is the model of professional efficiency and courtesy --- he turns out a lot of high-quality scholarship, spends a lot of time helping other scholars, and spends an extraordinary amount of time promoting and supervising his graduate students. You could not have a better supervisor than Brian Leiter. And on top of his own scholarly commitments and student supervision, he seems to be a tireless promoter of UT-Austin in various ways.

He never supervised me; but I was close enough to people he supervised to see how committed he was to their professional development and success as academics.

In the many hours I have spent in his presence, he has always been friendly, funny, and generally quite pleasant. Whatever you think of his blog, I have no doubt you would like Leiter if you knew him personally.
6.22.2005 9:24pm
OrinKerr:
Wince and Nod is right. The issue here is blogging etiquette and norms, not what you think about the personality of a particular blogger.
6.22.2005 9:46pm
T. Rosson:
I'm a former student of Leiter's, and I agree with others that he's a pleasant teacher. He's devoted to teaching and nurtures students. The deranged character behind Leiter Reports, though, is a side I never saw in the classroom. Not long ago, I stopped reading Leiter Reports because I found the rhetoric a bit much for my tastes. Leiter relies on name calling to do his heavy lifting. I asked Leiter why he persisted in sounding like Michael Moore and company, and he promised to explain in a future post (the next two weeks). We'll see.
6.22.2005 9:46pm
KRS:
That's the thing that strikes me as odd. From the comments on his blog (not the ego-stroking e-mails he posts), from his bio on the UT website, and from various other snippets of information, it seems like he's generous with his students and the type of mentor that any student would be lucky to have. From his scholarship, he seems like a model scholar... (though I don't know enough about Dworkin to know whether this is a cogent critique or a rant dressed up as scholarship)....

... yet on his blog he comes across as the nastiest person alive who holds down a stable intellectual job. It's beyond merely "sardonic." People who disagree with him are not just wrong, overly simplistic, or have differing priorities... they're illiterate, dishonest, criminals, or worse.

on what Prof. Volokh had in mind, "I will let you folks be the judges of whether this is good behavior on Prof. Leiter's part" is probably as much of an invitation to pile on as I'd seen.
6.22.2005 9:53pm
Anonymous:
"someone who knows Leiter": I don't think anyone doubts that Leiter treats his UT-Austin students well, especially ones interested in legal academia. However, why the need to ruin the career prospects of law students at other institutions just because they disagree with his viewpoints?

Rather than "outting" Lawrence VanDyke and threatening to blacklist him from legal academia, why couldn't Leiter just send him an email and offer a critique of his book review? Perhaps he could have gotten VanDyke to see the light; VanDyke had no issues with Leiter until after Leiter tried to ruin his name and his future.

Why couldn't Leiter email Anthony Ciolli and congratulate him on a job well done, voicing any concerns he had about his message board in the process, rather than engage in character assassination on his blog the day after his note was released? Maybe if he had opened a private dialogue with him rather instead of threatening to him with disciplinary action and lawsuits, Ciolli might have been willing to make the requested changes to the site. After all, like VanDyke, Ciolli had no issues with Leiter prior to Leiter's public outburst.

Similarly, if Leiter truly believed Juan Non-Volokh misunderstood his position, why not send him a private email about it and ask him to make a correction, rather than threaten to "out" him on his blog knowing full well that it could jeopardize his shot at tenure?

As much as I try, I just can't understand why someone who "has always been friendly, funny, and generally quite pleasant" in person would feel the need to adopt the complete opposite persona online. While Leiter certainly tries to promote UT-Austin, his internet antics do his school more harm than good, particularly from the viewpoint of prospective students who are far more likely to identify with the VanDykes, Ciollis, and Non-Volokhs of the world.
6.22.2005 9:53pm
Michael B (mail):
The theme of etiquette and decorous manners in various fora certainly has the potential to be a fruitful one, it could certainly open up some penetrating depths, not all of which and perhaps not many of which, would be to the liking of someone like Leiter.

Based on some recent posts, which avoid answering recent germane and probative questions, I'll nominate Leiter for warm and fuzzy person of the decade. Let us allow Leiter the undiminsihed due of his high office and his cloistered sanctum; let us allow him to seek to out any one he cares - regardless of the petty and trite motives involved - while using any means he cares to utilize - hypocritically or otherwise; let us regard his pious vocation in a manner that accords with his and others profession of the same and not in accordance with his sundry demonstrations to the contrary. We should all be humbled and thankful, while invoking vows of mortification of our wayward tendencies, to be graced by such an eminence, regardless of the evidence we needs must turn a blind eye to. Let us, with acts of humble contrition and renewed convictions to further blot this sinly stain from our hearts and minds, proceed to honor this eminence in a manner that is, clearly, his due.

Of civility, decorous manners and behavior and etiquette and hard-won tolerance more broadly conceived, let it be taught by Leiter by example and demonstration.
6.22.2005 10:23pm
Concerned Citizen:
I think the line between blogging etiquette and norms, on the one hand, and the personality of a particular blogger, on the other, should not be nearly so bright as Professor Kerr's post seems to suggest. Proper blogging etiquette ought to require the blogger to ask him- or herself, before he or she posts, "Would I be proud of myself if I made this point, in this manner, to one of my students? To one of my colleagues? To one of my friends?" If the answer is no, then the blogger ought to re-work the post. Blogging etiquitte, then, ought to involve some calculation by the blogger about how other human beings ought to be treated -- a calculation that will necessarily implicate certain aspects of the blogger's personality.

I posed my question in my earlier comment about Professor Leiter's personality because I suspected that in the real world, when he has to have face-to-face interaction with actual human beings, he is much more pleasant than he is on his blog. To Professor Leiter's credit, that appears to be the case. He just doesn't appear to have been asking himself these questions before he blogs. It has made for sensational reading, but in the end it has also made the blogosphere a far less pleasant place to visit than it ought to be.
6.22.2005 10:33pm
someone who knows Leiter:
Leiter has never threatened to destroy anyone's career, as far as I know -- and I have followed the Pejman, Ciolli, Van Dyke, and Non-Volokh affairs fairly closely.

He has attacked stupid arguments, to be sure; but always on their merits. And he has criticized writers for their obtuseness, laziness, or argumentative dishonesty. I find his honesty refreshing. I particularly like his way of ridiculing the blogosphere's tendency to applaud the "interesting perspective."

Is it really fair to ask Leiter, an academic with an acute intellect and a well-earned scholarly reputation, to abstain from expressing his opinions about dishonest or stupid arguments because his expression of his opinion could harm the careers of people who make such stupid or dishonest arguments?

If Leiter is taken so seriously in academia that his views could harm people's careers, isn't that an indication that other academics regard his views as having merit? And if other academics regard his views as having merit, what is the point of encouraging Leiter to withhold or tone down his criticisms?

If his attacks are really so baseless as Leiter's detractors seem to think, it would seem that the scholarly community could be trusted to arrive at this conclusion collectively, and thus discount his attacks on Van Dyke, Non-Volokh, etc.
6.22.2005 10:53pm
T. Rosson:
To "Someone Who Knows Leiter"--

It's not that Leiter's arguments are baseless; I often agree with the substance of what he says when he's not resorting to cheap and empty rhetoric. It's that he is incapable of debate without impugning the motives of people with whom he disagrees. Just as often, he forecloses debate because he refuses to find any common ground with his opponents. I will repeat that my experience as a student in his Jurisprudence class was rewarding.
6.22.2005 11:17pm
Michael B (mail):
someone who knows Leiter,

Your reverence, in the spirit of asking for but one more bowl of soup, may I, kindly sir, humble articulator that I am, beseech your revered and rightly esteemed attention concerning your recent estimable declaration:

Absolutely hilarious! What a studied, impenetrable, self-regarding articulation of the very self-serving pieties, in part, I was mocking. You've certainly plumbed the shallows of solipsistic arrogations, reflections and refractions. Absolutely perfect. "Perfect" because, seemingly, you're not even aware of it.

Adieu.
6.22.2005 11:29pm
Robert Schwartz (mail):
I think it is amusing that most of the comments claiming that Leiter a nice guy are have been posted anonymously. I wouldn't know the guy if he hit me over the head with a baseball bat, but, I have seen him at work in the blogosphere, and what I have seen is ugly. I was involved in his trashing of Josh Cherniss, and his statements were those of a bully and a blowhard. And so I have judged him.

Leiter's MO is to trash anyone who dares to disagree with him. He only wants Juan's name so he can slime Juan. I say send Leiter to the Devil.
6.23.2005 12:27am
Anonymous:
"someone who knows Leiter," I cannot understand how you can say both that you are familiar with the VanDyke incident and that Leiter never threatened anyone:


The author of this incompetent book note, according to this site, is one Lawrence VanDyke, a student editor of the Review. Mr. VanDyke may yet have a fine career as a lawyer, but I trust he has no intention of entering law teaching: scholarly fraud is, I fear, an inauspicious beginning for an aspiring law teacher. And let none of the many law professors who are readers of this site be mistaken: Mr. VanDyke has perpetrated (intentionally or otherwise) a scholarly fraud, one that may have political and pedagogical consequences.


However let's put VanDyke aside for now. You say that Leiter "has attacked stupid arguments, to be sure; but always on their merit." You also claim to be familiar with the Ciolli incident. How, pray tell, did Leiter attack Ciolli's note on its merits? Leiter never addressed the note's content, except briefly in the middle of his defamatory rant where he acknowledged (in passing) that Ciolli's work was better than his own. Instead of addressing the merits of Ciolli's research, Leiter anonymously emailed Eugene Volokh (funny in retrospect given his attack on Juan Non-Volokh's anonymity) the day the note was supposed to be released and attempted to have him bring down Ciolli for him. When this failed, Leiter attacked Ciolli's character, implied that he is a racist, and then threatened him with a lawsuit and disciplinary action. Once again, how exactly was this an attack on the merits?

It's one thing for Leiter to throw a temper tantrum over one individual. While his reaction to VanDyke was highly inappropriate given the power differential between them, one such incident can be overlooked. However, it was not an isolated incident, but a string of abuse against multiple individuals who did nothing to provoke him. Cherniss. Bernstein. Pejman. Heck. Reynolds. Sachs. Buck. Drezner. VanDyke. Ciolli. Non-Volokh. These are not "obtuse," "lazy," or "argumentatively dishonest" individuals, but victims of an internet bully who, for whatever reason, prefers threats and junior high insults to civil discourse.
6.23.2005 1:27am
J. N. Welch (mail):
Internet etiquette? We've heard several anonymous posters say that the Professor is kind and generous at his law school, but his behavior on the internet speaks for itself. He quickly abandons the merits and launches a personal attack, relying on sarcasm, name-calling, and ad hominem. The way he attacked law students was indefensible and ironically -- because he's a professed-fascist-hater -- brings to mind this famous anti-fascist quote, slightly paraphrased:

"Until this moment, Professor, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Let us not assassinate this lad further, Professor. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you no sense of decency?"
6.23.2005 1:40am
someone who knows Leiter:
Anonymous:

I fail to see, in your quote from Leiter's post, how he threatened Van Dyke. How can Leiter's characterization of Van Dyke's work as "scholarly fraud" be deemed a threat? Is merely registering an opinion a threat, in your view? Furthermore, how is a "power differential," between Leiter and someone with whom he is arguing, relevant to this discussion at all? May he only argue with holders of named chairs at elite law schools? May he only argue with tenured professors? Or may he, in your view, condescend to argue with untenured, but tenure-stream, professors (or would that constitute abuse of the "power differential"?)?

Commenters:

I don't understand the obsession you have with Leiter's supposed lack of civility. You accuse him of "temper tantrums," "slim[ing]," "trash[ing]," "cheap and empty rhetoric," "character assassination," etc. -- but you haven't given a single example of these sins. Rather, all the incidents to which you point, are disputes over ideas of great consequence. Leiter, more than just about anyone in the blogosphere, treats ideas with the seriousness they deserve -- he points out, almost daily, how intellectual dishonesty translates into carnage abroad. He holds people accountable when they treat dangerous ideas as simply "interesting perspectives."

And as much as you may hate his ideas, at the very least you should be thanking him for not writing under a pseudonym, so you have someone real and identifiable to attack. Just curious: does the fact that he maintains such high professional standing, when you find him so obviously loathsome, vicious and reprehensible, cause you to question the truth of your assessment of him?
6.23.2005 2:01am
Anonymous:
Haven't given a single example of these sins? What about the Ciolli incident, which you have thus far failed to acknowledge? Or do you think it's appropriate for a professor to defame a student and threaten him with a lawsuit and disciplinary action just because the student produced a high quality note? What about his potshots at Cherniss, Bernstein, Pejman, Heck, Reynolds, Sachs, Buck, and Drezner? And of course the attack on Juan Non-Volokh that brought about this very blog post.

If you're not familiar with these incidents, Leiter's posts and their aftermath are just a Google search away.
6.23.2005 2:54am
anonner (mail):
Someone who knows Leiter:

Not even Leiter agrees with your assessment that he doesn't trash opponents. Leiter himself acknowledges it and has tries to defend his practice. If Leiter's own concession isn't good enough for you, then please visit his blog and count up the number of "imbeciles" and "morons," etc. he slings when he disagrees.

In answer to your last question, my answer is "assumes facts not in evidence." Leiter's not loathesome; he's a provocateur who, for whatever reason, relishes being the object of attention and anger. It's an odd psychology, but "to each his own," I guess.

Of course, his approach to public discussion yields far, far more heat than light and, obviously, has left many people angry and even bitter. Now you please tell me, what good is being a learned philosopher is that is your your behavior?
6.23.2005 2:57am
anonner (mail):
Someone who knows Leiter:

Let me try that last sentence again:

Now you please tell me, what good is being a learned philosopher if that is your behavior?
6.23.2005 2:59am
Javier (mail):
You accuse him of "temper tantrums," "slim[ing]," "trash[ing]," "cheap and empty rhetoric," "character assassination," etc. -- but you haven't given a single example of these sins.

Okay, Someone Who Knows Leiter, where to start? This site has a great set of links to all of Leiter's various personal attacks. The one I remember in particular was his ridiculous dismissal of Dan Drezner.
6.23.2005 3:00am
Concerned Citizen:
To answer your question, the fact that Professor Leiter maintains such high professional standing does *not* cause me to question the truth of my assessment of him.
Instead, my assessment of him causes me to question whether the taxpayers of Texas ought to be bearing the costs of paying his salary and other expenses associated with his job, particularly when he apparently spends a good chunk of his on-the-clock time during the "work" week calling good people names on the internet.
6.23.2005 8:45am
KRS:
For what it's worth, Leiter's critique of Ciolli was spot-on.

About their actual study, he had this to say:

I'm not sure I follow the relevance of Mr. Sanderson's reference to Mr. Ciolli's "law school study"--which I take it means the item referenced in his post on Volokh's site on Friday. I have only glanced at this lengthy document, but it appears to be not only more "thorough" than anything I've done, it looks more "thorough" than anything I've ever seen on this topic. Without having studied the methodology carefully, I can say that it strikes me as an especially useful feature of this survey that it breaks down job placement success at elite firms by region of the country, which may ultimately be far more useful information for prospective law students than "national" placement per se. So kudos to Mr. Ciolli for his hard work on this project, which will no doubt be appreciated by many law school applicants.

Quote is here. This isn't character assassination at all, nor is it the slanderous tirade in response to a competing study that Ciolli et al try to paint it as here.


About their board, he rightly calls Ciolli et al out for providing a forum for the worst aspects of what used to be on the Princeton Review site. Some of the stuff on there is truly disgusting, which Leiter says reflects badly on the webmasters, and which Leiter says is cause for them to moderate their site. As swkL seems to have suggested, the loudest of Leiter's detractors seem to be the targets of his skewering. If there wasn't a nugget of truth in his skewerings, maybe they wouldn't provoke the response they do...?
6.23.2005 8:48am
Jason V.:
"Some of the stuff on there is truly disgusting, which Leiter says reflects badly on the webmasters, and which Leiter says is cause for them to moderate their site."

Boy, Prof. Leiter seems like a warm and fuzzy concerned citizen when you put it like that, no?

Except for the fact that it's a gross understatement of Leiter's reaction to the Ciolli situation. Leiter didn't just argue that the presence of bad posters on their message board is a cause for the webmasters to be embarassed and therefore moderate their site. Instead, Leiter threatened to contact the webmasters' respective schools, threatened a lawsuit, and generally threatened to ruin their careers.

I don't think anybody would dispute that certain people have authored some truly disgusting content on the autoadmit website, but is that really cause for a well-balanced, successful academic to threaten lawsuits and work towards ending the webmaster's careers?
6.23.2005 12:06pm
roysol (mail):
I commend JNV for enabling comments as a step to mitigating the drawbacks to blogging anonymously. Not having a mechanism to respond is one of the shortcomings. I do not believe searching thru "about" pages to find an e-mail is the same. The communication flow becomes private at that point.

I believe it is bad taste to out someone against their wishes. If there are truly outrageous or threatening statements, perhaps, but certainly not for disagreements.

That being said, you should not be deluded into thinking you have any privacy. It has been shown many times that discovering someone's identity is not that hard. It's a good guidline to never post anything you would be embarassed to have attributed to you.
6.23.2005 12:26pm
Bob Flynn (mail):
Here's a good rule of thumb for internet posting:

If you write something about someone (which is Leiter's gossipy modus operandi), pretend that you are speaking directly to that person at a cocktail party or academic conference.

This breeds civility. Professor V writes with the same steady, measured, polite tone as he is in person. This high standard is followed (I believe) by his fellow conspirators on this blog.

In contrast, Leiter writes caustically from his tenured perch, attacking the motives and character of folks with whom he disagrees (anyone to the right of Michael Moore). He would never act this way in person. His aborted attempt to out JNV was a glimpse into his bullying ways.

How on earth does JNV's identity relate to any of the arguments JNV made? It doesn't. It was Leiter's way of signalling attack. But, like most paper tigers, he has retreated when confronted.

Like politics, academia ain't bean bag. But folks like Leiter make it almost a bloodsport.
6.23.2005 1:39pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Would anyone care to offer odds on whether "someone who knows Leiter" is actually Brian Leiter himself, posting under a pseudonym?

Nick
6.23.2005 2:02pm
Anonymous:
The odds that it is Leiter posting under a pseudonym are very low.

There are good reasons why those who wish to defend Leiter here are remaining anonymous. The main reason is that, realities aside, the perception is that Leiter is tremendously influential in philosophy, and those who support him are likely to appear to be major-league ass kissers.

Leiter and I are not personal friends, but I know him pretty well professionally. He and I are just about as opposed intellectually as can be. But if offered a chance to choose referees for my work, Leiter would be one of my top choices, because he is direct, conscientious, and fair.

My guess is that every one of us thinks that there are some moral and political views the acceptance or defense of which shows the author to be vicious. I doubt that Leiter should be faulted on that score.
6.23.2005 3:13pm
Javier (mail):
My guess is that every one of us thinks that there are some moral and political views the acceptance or defense of which shows the author to be vicious. I doubt that Leiter should be faulted on that score.

Do you realize that this isn't primarily why people dislike Leiter's online persona? People dislike Leiter because he is often simply very rude and dismissive. Other people can seriously disagree about major issues and yet carry on an amicable discussion. Leiter seems far less capable of this, at least online.
6.23.2005 3:44pm
MichaelW (mail):
Well, the time has come. The charade has gone on far too long an I must confess ...

I am Juan Non-Volokh.
6.23.2005 6:34pm
Michael B (mail):
"My guess is that every one of us thinks that there are some moral and political views the acceptance or defense of which shows the author to be vicious." Anon

"And as much as you may hate his ideas ..." someone who knows leiter

Having read most of the comments I noticed none that would fall within this category. Where do these statements come from? In fact these insinuations (which is what they are, as they misdirect and usurp rather than illuminate anything that is actually being discussed) reveal something of the presumption of the commenters, not the subject matter per se.

Too, it's interesting how so many choose to remain Anonymous, one of the focal points of the discussion, without at all addressing that subject vis-a-vis Leiter himself. Revealing, but not at all in the manner intended.
6.23.2005 8:11pm
Stephen M (Ethesis) (mail) (www):
There are good reasons why those who wish to defend Leiter here are remaining anonymous. The main reason is that, realities aside, the perception is that Leiter is tremendously influential in philosophy, and those who support him are likely to appear to be major-league ass kissers.

That makes sense.

BTW, has Eugene checked his IP logs on the commentators? That would make a nice editorial confirmation and would put an end to the speculation.
6.24.2005 12:13pm
Anon Always (mail) (www):
http://www.autoadmit.com/leiter.html

Has there been any clarification on how much of that is accurate and how much is not?
6.24.2005 12:24pm
Christopher J. Schreiber (mail):
I think it's extremely petty for Professor Leiter to seek to "out" a blogger who has good reason to wish to remain anonymous. Actually, I think it's petty for him to seek to "out" anyone's secret if the only reason - and it is the only apparent reason here, given JNV's overall geniality and civility in his posts - Leiter wishes to do so is that Leiter disagrees with JNV on the issue they are debating.

It is neither nice nor gentlemanly, by any definition of those words. Given I have never met Professor Leiter, unlike his anonymous defenders, I can't opine on whether he is either of those in person, but he surely gives no evidence that he is from this incident.
6.24.2005 7:00pm
Steve:
While both sides could have dialed it down a notch, for me it goes back to JNOV's statement that Leiter "did not equate" the Bush Administration to Nazi Germany, but he "certainly suggests an equivalence" between the opponents of the two. This is a rhetorical trick where one denies saying the very thing they are saying - along the same lines as "I'm not saying X is a traitor, but he certainly seems to be on the other side."

What does it mean to "certainly suggest an equivalence" between two things? I have no idea, unless it means "to use both of them in the same sentence." What the original proponents of Godwin's Law failed to account for is that not only does comparing someone to the Nazis automatically end reasoned debate, but claiming that someone has made a comparison to the Nazis automatically ends reasoned debate as well, regardless of whether the claim is true or false.

The implication is clear. We must either decree that no one may ever mention the Nazis in a sentence again, or we must make a ruling that anyone who falsely claims that a comparison to the Nazis has been made violates Godwin's Law himself and has lost the argument. Because it becomes quite boring watching every single argument degenerate in the exact same way.
6.24.2005 7:34pm
Michael B (mail):
Fyi, in at least partial defense of Leiter at this time, I believe he has withdrawn from his prior decision to attempt to 'out' non-Volokh (according to a post in another blog).
6.25.2005 2:37pm
Alice Marie Beard:
I'm surprised to see men, and particularly men who have been educated as lawyers, involved in such petty bickering and cat-fighting. I've not seen this kind of nonsense since I was a teenage girl trying to survive nasty backbiting "clique girls." This is embarrassing.
6.25.2005 4:29pm
Dirtyfingers (mail):

I'm surprised to see men, and particularly men who have been educated as lawyers, involved in such petty bickering and cat-fighting. I've not seen this kind of nonsense since I was a teenage girl trying to survive nasty backbiting "clique girls." This is embarrassing.



You must not know too many lawyers.

By the way, why is everyone having such trouble referring to Juan as JNOV? That's obviously why he chose the pseudonym.
6.27.2005 11:51am