My Finger Is Well Off the Pulse of the Blogosphere:

I've been quite pleased by the mainstream media reception of my Parent-Child Jihadist Speech op-ed; it ran originally in the L.A. Times, but it's been reprinted in the Atlanta and St. Petersburg newspapers, as well as a couple of others (including this one); NPR Weekend Edition and a local NPR affiliate did something on this, too, as did a Philadelphia radio station and the conservative syndicated Lars Larson radio show.

On the other hand, I had expected there'd be more attention from various blogs and radio programs that often cover radical Islam and the law. I figured the case that my story had uncovered had it all: The First Amendment; jihadism; parental rights; child welfare. Yet I've had much less original posts yield much more interest among blogs and radio programs, especially conservative ones.

I'm not trying either to brag or to complain here; I'm pleased with the attention the story has gotten, and while I think it's interesting, I never expected it to cause a huge stir. Still, I wonder: Did I misjudge the likely interest? Did I just not publicize the story enough? Should I have taken heroic measures to keep Anna Nicole Smith alive for several more days? What can I do in the future to try to draw more attention to such matters? I'd love to hear any speculation or advice that people might have.

Mark Field (mail):
Pay off Matt Drudge?
2.10.2007 2:28pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
[Response to deleted comment deleted. -EV]


I think its just a matter of speech and action restriction of the non-custodial parent is not a new thing so not all that exciting.

Says the "Dog"
2.10.2007 4:10pm
Public_Defender (mail):
This topic does not make for an easy answer, so many people won't touch it. You realy can't say anything even halfway thoughtful about the topic in less than a few paragraphs. These two "problems" will keep you off pretty much any talk radio show (except for NPR). They also deter partisan bloggers.

As soon as a right-winger says, "Of course, we can't teach the kid morals that involve illegal violence," a liberal will say, "what about a parent who teaches his kid that he has a right to use a gun defend himself without retreating?" The same goes for pretty much every other example you can give.

You made the only easy point during your NPR interview--it's generally a very good idea to just stay married.
2.10.2007 5:19pm
Federal Dog:
You should have just said that Anna Nicole Smith was the mother in the case.
2.10.2007 5:49pm
jelewis (mail):

As someone who has worked in Middle Eastern studies professionally (but who is returning to law school this Fall), I could tell you that far too many of the bloggers who write about radical Islam aren't particularly well-informed on the matter and don't like nuance. And, I am definitely "right-of-center" on foreign policy. I would suggest fanning the article out to certain think tank circles in Washington as they might be more interested. I thought it was very well thought-out, though I am curious to know whether (by way of contrast) Western European states that face jihadi terrorism like Denmark and France would rule similarly

Jonathan Eric Lewis
2.10.2007 7:19pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
I think most people would generally agree that it's close to impossible to craft a hard and fast rule for just about anything dealing with child custody and child-raising decisions in the aftermath of a divorce. The "best interest of the child" is supported by a pretty broad consensus, there's not much way to legislate any different rule, so there's not all that much to talk about, I think.

Also, the only people in this country likely to get emotionally outraged at the particular decision you cite are actual radical Muslims themselves. The left insists that Islam is a religion of peace, so they're not going to jump to defend this guy who spouts hatred and violence as being a part of Islam. The right certainly isn't upset with the outcome.

While the legal issue has much broader application (as you showed in your lengthy list of examples), the actual case at hand was not going to attract any real heated debate on its own merits. Illustrate the issue with an actual case involving a Confederate-flag-waving father, or a wiccan mother or something, and you'd likely attract much more debate, because more people would want to attack or defend the specific individual involved in the case. In the actual case of the jihadist father, only the legal issue is worth much debate.
2.10.2007 10:28pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
I think that the problem is your wishy-washy and hyper-legalistic approach. You don't take a stand on the issue, and your comments focus on a relatively minor aspect of the issue that is only of interest to First Amendment scholars.
2.11.2007 4:24am
Ed Coke:
Your op-ed reads more like a law school exam question; there is no strong point of view. Even your opinion, which cannot be ascertained until the end of the article, is weak: "I think the first amendment should impose some constraint..."
2.10.2007 5:08pm

twwren's observation reflects the fact that the 1st Amendment question is tacitly underlain with deeper questions about the constitutionality of family law, beginning with whether or not the constitution even applies or should apply at all.

Volokh's thoughtful but clumsy and amorphous discussion radiates on every page the difficulty of bringing the implications a specific right to bear, within a scheme which at its most basic level allocates essentially totalitarian powers of discretion to the court.
2.11.2007 5:18am
Ed Coke:
Rather than being hyper-legalistic, Volokh is on the contrary injecting a mature legal principle into a wasteland devoid of guideposts for it to relate to: the wishy-washyness follows unavoidably.
2.11.2007 5:45am
fishbane (mail):
Just want to second the notion that nuance isn't something with which most bloggers deal well. "More rubble, less trouble" v. "No blood for oil". That is not to say that there are no thoughtful people out there, but most of the big guns tend to affirm the faithful's preconceptions.
2.11.2007 12:18pm
Ed Coke:
The connection with Anna Nicole Smith that might have been expoited, is that the Ginsburg and Stevens MARSHALL V MARSHALL opinions expatiate upon the domestic relations abstention, in parallel and analogy with the there immediately a propos probate exception. The lower federal courts are admonished to use an eyepiece offering finer resolution and less jerking from the knee in dismissing cases that appear to lie outside federal jurisdiction.

The centerfold thus may, yet, play a bit part in bringing 1st Amendment and other constitutional rights considerations into family law.
2.13.2007 7:07am