July 31, 2005

Bad Form

by PG

I feel myself to be in questionable taste for even mentioning this, but UT Law professor Brian Leiter's post about people who make their lack of admiration for him clear online has been hard to shake from my mind. All the names named are of people involved in law, and one person is an adjunct professor at Loyola in LA. Leiter particularly attacks Eugene Volokh of UCLA Law for claiming to be civil while having comments sections on his blog in which people often are uncivil. Volokh and his co-bloggers have not deigned to notice this, so again, I feel a little... eh... for doing so.

Despite having been called on in Civil Procedure to explain how I was going to avoid liability for comments made by others on my blogs, I'm not altogether sure what the state of law on this is. Considering that the Conspiracy seems to have a fairly moderated comments section -- Leiter includes a comment in his post that Prof. Kerr (who is indeed a nice guy) had deleted from VC -- my vague recollection implies that they set themselves up for more liability based on the comments they leave standing than would someone who ran a blog with a policy of not deleting comments. The latter is pretty much the policy of De Novo; even when one of our friends is attacked, we respond with more comments rather than censorship. Not because we're more pro-free speech than VC, but because we're more excited about getting any comment that isn't an invitation to enlarge our manhood.

Anyway, Leiter's post put two nagging questions in my mind. First, aside from the legal liability issue, is there moral responsibility for "inviting" people to say things with which one would not dirty oneself? And second, how on earth are professors supposed to maintain the appropriate level of professionalism and collegiality if they are attacking each other online? Pity the poor dean's husband who seats Leiter next to any of his foes.

[Post title courtesy of Jas. Hook. "Bad form," he cried jeeringly, and went content to the crocodile.]

July 31, 2005 12:28 AM | TrackBack

Answers to nagging questions:
1. Yes, as it is otherwise cowardly.
2. They can just take it, and the stalking will continue, or they can put up a fight. Remember, Leiter is dealing with a conspiracy, so it is not just one on one, which would be fair and gentlemanly. But hiding within a conspiracy is less professional and needs responding.

Are the goals of law profs who blog intended to be professional and collegial? For the most part, I think not. The Internet is very protective, much more so than if these law profs tried some of the same crap on their students that they put on their blogs. Remember free speech, my fist and the end of your nose.

Posted by: Shag from Brookline at July 31, 2005 06:40 AM
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