Legal Law

Arguing With LawProfBlawg

Hello, and welcome to a blog post about me posting blog posts. Ordinarily, one might describe my blog post as snarky with undertones of seriousness. You know, satire.

But sometimes I mix it up. Sometimes I write something quite serious. Whether it is about how we shouldn’t use racial epithets. Or about how the bar is nothing more than a sadistic entry barrier masquerading as a test for competency. Or about how the legal academy is entirely too focused on prestige and accolades based on racist, sexist, and classist entry barriers.

Then excrement hits the fan. And when it does, I get these standard responses.  Pretty much every time.

  • Consider the Source — Who are you, anonymous person? Are you really a professor? How can we rate the merits of your ideas if we don’t know exactly who you are?

My answer to this one is simple. Perhaps you could, I don’t know, look at the ideas I’ve presented and see if they seem persuasive. It is okay if you disagree with them unless there is serious factual support. Just because I’m anonymous and assert there is gravity on this planet doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

Moreover, WHY do you want to know? I suspect it is because deep down, you believe that you do not trust your own ability to weigh the relative merits and must choose proxies instead. Did someone everyone looks up to write it? If so, it must be worthwhile. Is LPB a nobody? If so, then it can’t be a serious idea.

Worse yet, what if I’m criticizing a well-known law professor’s article? How on EARTH will you be able to determine who is right if you don’t know how famous I am?

See the problem? We are not determining my idea’s merits. We are supposed to be focusing on the ideas.

  • Consider the Source, Part II — Why publish in Above the Law if this is serious discourse? IF you were serious, you’d pick a better source.

Would you prefer I publish it in a different blog? Would it carry more weight as an idea in the Faculty Lounge or Volokh’s?

What’s even better is that this works for ANY publication. Because you get to be the judge of your own standards. Oh, it’s a pity you published in Harvard Law, it’s not Yale. Oh, it’s a pity you published in Yale Law, because it isn’t peer-reviewed.  Oh, it’s a pity you didn’t publish in a better peer-reviewed journal in your field.  Oh, it’s a pity your best peer-reviewed journal is not as good as that as in another discipline. See the problem? The goal posts keep moving. But one never gets to the ideas that way.

  • You should have some “skin” in the game.

I don’t know what this means. But it usually means “put my name on it” because then and only then will there be a risk to my reputation if my ideas are wacky.  Well, here’s something to know: LPB is way better known than real me. So, don’t you think the damage would be MORE severe?

Regardless, some people know who I am. And that should make it sufficient to call me out if I start going totally off base. And hey, get this, many times I vet my blog posts with law professors, economists, and other experts before I post them.

In short, there’s skin.

  • It’s unfair to the professor whose work you are critiquing if they don’t know who you are.

Why? If I’m engaged in some ad hominem, then yes, it’s harder to clapback. But, and hear me out here, what if I am providing substantive comments and critiques and not engaging in a logical fallacy? In those instances, is it unfair?

  • What if I just make a snide passing remark to demonstrate my disdain?

That’s cool. At some point, I’m sure I’ll reciprocate. That’s what Twitter is all about.

Wait: Did you mean at a conference?


LawProfBlawg is an anonymous professor at a top 100 law school. You can see more of his musings hereHe is way funnier on social media, he claims. Please follow him on Twitter (@lawprofblawg). Email him at lawprofblawg@gmail.com.

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