January 17, 2014
I appreciate all the feedback via the poll and many e-mails. Notwithstanding the attempted blackmail, I will be posting the identity of "dybbuk," the sexist cyber-harasser and generally pathetic human being, but I would like to wait for the Illinois Bar's investigation, which is now in process, to conclude, since I would not want cyber-hysteria to affect the evaluation of the merits. I expect by April we will know where things stand.
January 15, 2014
Useful perspective from Mary Anne Franks (Miami). The Internet is the cesspool of vile stupidity and vicious harassment that it is mostly because of CDA 230. The recent court decision against The Dirty website (discussed by Prof. Franks) is a hopeful sign.
January 11, 2014
January 08, 2014
This is timely, given the topic du jour in the legal blogosphere concerning the harassment of Prof. Leong. The article mentions important work on these issues by Danielle Citron (Maryland) and Mary Anne Franks (Miami). It also reveals that, once again, the Elecronic Frontier Foundation is on the morally depraved side of the issue. (At what point will so-called progressive law professors become ashamed to ally themselves with the juvenile libertarians of EFF, the leading supporters of keeping cyberspace the cesspool it is?)
(Thanks to Jason Walta for the pointer.)
Here; an excerpt:
James Grogan, chief counsel for the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission, told the ABA Journal that state supreme court rules bar him from confirming or denying that a probe request was filed. Speaking generally, he said Illinois and a few other jurisdictions have initiated cyberstalking investigations of lawyers in the past.
It's been curious to see dybbuk's various defenders (including some posting at the ABA site) claim that Professor Leong's allegations aren't accurate, yet they are all documented with screen shots of the postings in the complaint. And it appears to be true, and easily verifiable with search engines, that dybbuk's most extended ridicule and abuse of tenure-track law faculty, in particular of their scholarship, has been directed at seven individuals, two minority men, and five women, three of them also minorities (this includes Prof. Leong). Dybbuk has, to be sure, occasionally delivered passing insults aimed at white men (even me, but no surprise there!), but none of them that I have seen (and I have seen a lot) have been subjected to the extended cyber-harassment dybbuk visited on these others, all of whom are women and/or minorities, as Professor Leong claimed. Why the scholarship of female and minority law faculty warrants special abuse by this dybbuk character is a question that perhaps the Bar investigation, if there is one, will illuminate. It could simply be coincidental, and not a matter of gendered or racial animus. Or perhaps it will turn out that he is more of an equal opportunity harasser of law professors than the evidence so far suggests?
In any case, it's good to know that the Illinois Bar does sometimes investigate these kinds of cases.
January 06, 2014
Alas, my hopes for a Campos-free 2014 have been dashed. After the poll went up last week about whether to identify "dybbuk," the sexist cyber-harasser, I received the following e-mail from Campos:
From: Paul F Campos [mailto:paul.campos@Colorado.EDU]
Sent: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 11:03 AM
To: Leiter, Brian
I have been asked by somebody who has passed on (unsolicited) some potentially very embarrassing personal information about you to me, regarding your activities in cyberspace and some related goings-on in the real world, to make this information public, should you choose to “out” Dybbuk.
I am told by a colleague who teaches criminal law that this threat is blackmail (criminal "intimidation" as we call it in Illinois, or "extortion" or "criminal coercion" as it is in many other jurisdictions). I have no idea what fabrications Campos would produce this time, but there is nothing truthful he could post, and he knows it. (Remarkably, this is also not the first time Campos has tried to coerce another law professor with threats.)
Several law professors and lawyers I consulted thought that I should now absolutely name "dybbuk," since it would be wrong to give in to scurrilous threats like this. On the other hand, I noted last week some of my misgivings about identifying “dybbuk” (in the final update), and those misgivings remain; and while it is true that Campos and dybbuk are "cyber-buddies," as it were, I have no evidence that "dybbuk" put him up to this malevolent stunt ("dybbuk" is an actual lawyer, who probably knows blackmail when he sees it).
I'd be especially glad to hear from some of those originally skeptical about naming "dybbuk" how Campos's latest malfeasance should factor into a decision; others with thoughts on this matter are also welcome to post their thoughts: full name and valid e-mail address required. If you'd rather not comment in public, I understand--getting on the radar screen, even virtually, of these vile people can be unnerving. Anyway, if you prefer, feel free to e-mail me instead.
Thanks. (This is the first week of class, so please be patient if I do not respond in a timely way or if your comments do not appear right away.)
ADDENDUM: A couple of readers point out the link is to multiple statutes (including the "intimidation" statute); here's the relevant bit of the statute: "A person commits intimidation when, with intent to cause another to perform or to omit the performance of any act, he or she communicates to another, directly or indirectly by any means, a threat to perform without lawful authority any of the following acts...(3) Expose any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule...." Meanwhile, the tweet by law professor Kevin Heller (Melbourne & London) pretty much sums up the reader reaction so far.
ONE MORE: An alert reader calls to my attention that "dybbuk" surfaced on one of the websites where he usually spends his time insulting and ridiculing law professors to make a "statement": "I had no prior knowledge of Paul Campos’s alleged [sic] email to Brian Leiter, and do not approve of it." I am inclined to believe him, partly for the reasons noted earlier. Meanwhile, thanks to other readers for their e-mails. The funniest response comes from a colleague at Penn whose subject-line read "Campos" and whose e-mail consisted of three words: "Oh my God." I do think some readers are having trouble believing he would do something this stupid--even "dybbuk" apparently can't quite believe it! Alas, it is true.
ANOTHER: A commenter below writes:
I thought you'd be interested to know that Mr. Campos has posted on JDU [a chat room] the following explanation for his e-mail: "I contacted Leiter because I assumed he would want to know that someone is trying to get me (and perhaps other people with media platforms) to participate in this person's scheme to embarrass him. And of course this person might act on his or her own." That's a ridiculous defense given the message he sent and given his clear hatred of you. Someone in the same chat observed, “In what world does Paul Campos give a shit about fucking Brian Leiter's reputation enough to inform him of a threat to release embarrassing information?”
This "explanation" is remarkably absurd: if Campos had wanted to warn me of danger, he would have assured me he would never publish such trash, would have warned me about the content, and alerted me to the person making the threat. I guess he now realizes the mess he is in--"blackmailing" another law professor from his university e-mail account--so he is floating this silly story as a trial balloon to see if anyone is stupid enough to believe it! Amazing.
January 05, 2014
...and no doubt others are returning from their winter breaks and/or AALS (barring winter weather fiascos!). Here then a few blog items from the winter break you might have missed:
January 01, 2014
...that appeared over the last few days:
I'm sure they'll make for good discussion at the bar at the upcoming AALS meeting.
I'll be blogging somewhat more regularly this year at Huffington Post, though not primarily about legal education.
December 31, 2013
In yesterday's post about the jackass harassing Prof. Leong on-line, I referred to him only as "M," since Prof. Leong had not named him on her blog. His identity is not in doubt: he is named in her ethics complaint to the bar, and he even admitted on his "scam" blog that Prof. Leong had contacted him. My own view is that Levmore and Schopenhauer have it right, and that people like this should ordinarily be exposed, and that if they were exposed more often, cyberspace would be less of a cesspool than it currently is.
But what do readers think? Should M be named in public, and bear the reputational costs of his noxious sexism and on-line harassment? Here's a poll for readers:
UPDATE: It appears "friends of M" may now be voting, but even so the vote is lopsided in favoring of naming M (77 in favor, 22 against, 7 undecided). Interesting.
ANOTHER: The vote is pretty lopsided in favor of naming the miscreant (109 in favor, 30 against, 9 undecided), but I'd be curious to hear from those who voted 'no' what their reasoning is. Please e-mail me.
AND ONE MORE: So with more than 200 votes cast, the distribution of opinion is pretty clear: about 75% think “M” should be named, about 20% think he should not be named, and 5% are undecided. [Final tally: 180 for, 51 against, 11 undecided.] Ibsen warned us the “majority is always wrong,” which is why I solicited input from those skeptical of naming him. The best reason I’ve heard for not naming “M” is that even if he is a sexist jackass and cyber-harasser, he doesn’t deserve to lose his job over that. I certainly agree that “punishment” would be disproportionate to his wrongdoing, but I also think it an unlikely outcome. Still, it is a weighty consideration. A colleague elsewhere made a different point: “I voted no on naming M, on pragmatic grounds. My impression is that most cyber trolls, like most imbeciles generally, crave attention more than anything else. Publicly naming them could inadvertently give them exactly the attention they want--and hence throw them right into the briar patch.” And another said: “He will just choose a new handle and continue with his mischief. Let the Bar deal with this, and ignore him.” I’d still be glad to hear from others who voted ‘no’ about their reasons, before deciding how to proceed. (Classes here start Monday, so I’m a bit swamped right now.)
December 30, 2013
I've been enjoying a holiday from the sordid nonsense in the law-related blogosphere, but multiple readers have e-mailed me over the last few days to point out that Crazy Campos ("CC") spent his Xmas week attacking an untenured law professor for having the audacity to object to sexist cyber-harassment. (Some have blogged about it already.) This latest malevolent stunt by CC goes well beyond his delusional cyber-rampage against me earlier this year, though like that last one, it appears to have been brought on by the fact that CC felt he was defending some of his loyal cyber-followers.
Some background: CC continues to blog at a site called Lawyers, Guns & Money, which Glenn Greenwald memorably described as "a cesspool of unprincipled partisan hackdom" and "a filthy cesspool." CC's primary contributions to this "filthy cesspool" consist in continued smears of law schools and law professors.
As we noted a couple of weeks ago, Denver's Nancy Leong filed an ethics complaint (which I have now seen) against "M," a criminal defense lawyer in his mid-40s here in Chicago, who has spent hundreds (!) of hours over the last year or so harassing, ridiculing and defaming Professor Leong and lots of other law professors using the pseudonym "dybbuk" (and variations); among other things, he has written multiple blog posts and thousands of words devoted to ridiculing articles overwhelmingly by female and minority faculty. Here are some examples of his sexist harassment of Prof. Leong (all taken from the complaint and verified by screen shots of the postings):
On August 12, 2012, M described Prof. Leong as a “law professor hottie at Sturm School of Law” in a comment disparaging her scholarship and professional qualifications.
On August 12, 2012, M said of Prof. Leong's attendance at a professional conference: “All [the law professors] have to do is attend some ‘annual meeting’ of some ‘society’ where they pretend to listen to Leong yap about ‘pragmatic approaches of reactive commodification,’ while undressing her with their eyes.”
On September 11, 2012, M described Prof. Leong as a “comely young narcissist” in a comment disparaging her scholarship and professional qualifications.
On September 22, 2012, M described Prof. Leong as a “comely young scam defender” and emphasized that a link contained “Leong’s CV, photo included!” in a comment extensively disparaging her scholarship and professional qualifications.
On October 18, 2013, M defended his various “wisecracks and other offensive comments about [Leong's] pulchritude” by explaining that “[I]t is an unsayable truth that attractive persons, of both genders, are sometimes rewarded in ways they do not necessarily deserve. I believe social scientists call this ‘sexual capital.’”
M wrote two lengthy plays that depicted Prof. Leong using illegal drugs and connected those plays to her scholarship and professional life.
M is one of the regular bloggers [at a scam blog]. Comments on the blog are moderated before appearing and can be removed. Entire posts are sometimes removed...M’s posts about Prof. Leong on that blog generated a large number of comments that were sexist, racist, harassing, false, or defamatory. Despite being the author of the posts, he did nothing to discourage or remove the comments.
It's actually worse than that: M clearly encouraged the harassment, and posted appreciative comments to fan the flames. (Prof. Leong documents this in the complaint.)
As Professor Leong noted in one of her prior posts about cyber-harassment, M's sense of "humor" is of a piece with his puerile sexism, as in this charming item about an unemployed female law graduate:
M is a creepy and pathetic individual, but as Prof. Leong noted, he also made the mistake of having "posted specific information about his alma mater, the city where he lived, his job, various professional organizations to which he belonged, and other miscellaneous information. It took fifteen minutes to find out who he was using google and other publicly available databases. The result was troubling in itself: he was a public defender in his late forties who apparently has nothing better to do than harass an untenured professor." (Amusingly, M's response to all this was to claim Prof. Leong was "harassing" him! You really can't make this stuff up.)
Astonishingly, CC has now come to M's defense, taking it upon himself to ridicule Professor Leong for daring to object to sexist and racist abuse in cyberspace! Interestingly, even the commenters at Campos's "filthy cesspool" of a blog were appalled by these posts, which they describe better than I can:
#1: It is shameful that, after all the sexist and other harassment that dybbuk and his ilk have heaped on this untenured professor (and encouraged from others) over the course of more than a year, that Campos has piled on with his second derogatory post about her in two days. It is shameful that he and others are parsing her wedding announcement, citing his “sources” at UCLA where she is apparently looking for a job as if he has some inside info about her. I hope she sues this tenured professor for defamation. His headline in yesterday’s post certainly sounds defamatory to me and wholly invented out of thin air.
#2: It’s thoroughly messed up that Campos has chosen to attack Leong by questioning her racial identity (biracial people can indeed be subject to racism) and deriding her scholarship as an exercise in pure narcissism. This is sexist, racist garbage and [this blog] should be ashamed for publishing it.
#3: I’ve been enjoying reading this blog in the last few weeks, and finding an interesting mix of labor issues, feminism, and anti-racism. These two posts about Leong, however, are utterly shocking and disappointing. It’s perfectly possible to criticize problems in legal academia without minimizing racist and sexist behavior, or engaging in it – perfectly possible but not, it seems, in this case. Other people have asked Campos to stop posting on this issue. I would like to see an apology for what he’s already said before I decide whether to continue reading his posts, or indeed this blog.