January 06, 2014
Paul Campos now resorting to "blackmail"!
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
The Winter Quarter starts here at Chicago this week...
...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:
December 30, 2013
Paul Campos is back for the holidays, defending cyber-harassment and sexist abuse!
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.
#4: This post, and Paul’s one from the other day, are the most disturbing, mean-spirited, ill-conceived, and baseless I’ve read on this blog. It makes me question whether I want to be part of this community at all. The so called “criticism” of Professor Leong, such as it is, amounts mostly to name calling, coupled with personal attacks. So far, Paul has called our attention to (1) a blog post and (2) a short article written by this professor. Her cv reveals that the article in question was one of four she wrote during that YEAR. Let’s compare Paul’s cv. He has written three articles since 2006. Personally, I thought the Open Road piece (or at least the introduction, which is all I read) was mildly interesting. But WHO CARES! I suspect Professor Leong wrote it as an interesting, light-hearted way of talking about an issue — racial profiling — that people have talked about a lot. It’s not like this was the ONLY article she wrote. But something about her race, gender, appearance, youth or whatever has captured the mind of Paul Campos and his cronies and so they’ve engaged in a prolonged character-assassination campaign.
#5: Paul Campos latched on to Nancy Leong’s statement on her personal blog that she used a racially ambiguous photo of herself in profiles on a variety of dating web-sites as justification to discuss her race (“tenuously racialized”), whether she could “’pass’ as ‘white’”, and whether she is trying to “leverage her putatively marginalized racial/ethnic status for professional purposes.” This is racist (and stupid). I’m white as wonder bread and I could take a racially ambiguous picture of myself with the right lighting and a few minutes on Photoshop. He further suggests that her race is now a matter for public debate because “she chose to make her ethnic identity a central feature of the complaint she says she filed with the bar against Dybbuk.” As far as I can tell, we don’t know whether a complaint was filed and even if one was we don’t know what its gravamen is. What we know is that Leong found one comment of Dybbuk’s to be racist and a bunch of other people disagree. Leong’s identification of this as racist may open the door to a discussion of the remark, but it does not (in my mind) open the door to discussion of her race. This too is racist and retaliatory. As for sexism, Campos’s minimization of the obvious sexism in several of Dybukk’s remarks yesterday is itself sexism. That one’s pretty easy – it’s sexist to say that it’s no big deal when other people write sexist stuff. Finally, it is retaliatory to write two attack pieces about someone because you’re angry that she called one of your friends out for (perceived) racism and sexism and (purportedly) filed a bar complaint, and because it’s seeking to punish someone for complaining about sexism and racism, it too is racist and sexist (and would, for example, violate Title VII if done in the workplace).
The following is probably a good "rule of thumb": if those who comment at your "filthy cesspool" of a blog think you've violated some norms of decency, you probably have.
Strikingly, Campos actually admits at the end of his hit piece that he himself does not know how to “carry out serious academic work or train people to practice law." (Yes, he admits it!) It appears to be the only true statement he's managed to make of late.
I'll conclude with a hopeful thought from one of CC's colleagues at Colorado (where he is not, as one might imagine, a "beloved colleague"): "I think and/or hope that while Campos still is mentally ill and quite degenerate, he’s burned through the 15 minutes of fame that let him have more of an audience than the standard faculty crank." Barring some further extreme nuttiness from CC, we are looking forward to a CC-free 2014.
August 03, 2013
Curious and misleading "defense" of Tamanaha by one of his colleagues at Wash U
I find it hard to believe that the author of this "defense" expects to be taken seriously given that he just makes so many things up. Prof. Rosenzweig writes, regarding Failing Law Schools [FLS], that, "Tamanaha has made an invaluable contribution to the academic literature and to the betterment of the world. The posting of the Simkovic & McIntyre paper should provide the opportunity to make this clear. That it has led to the exact opposite by some in the legal community has proven distressing." Prof. Rosenzweig is, remarkably, completely silent on how Tamanaha's own hostile and careless response to the Simkovic & McIntyre paper triggered the need for a systematic response by the authors to address Tamanaha's misrepresentations and mistakes. I assume Tamanaha responded as he did because he recognized that the Simkovic & McIntyre paper undermined his posture in FLS.
Even more strangely, Prof. Rosenzweig writes:
Let us recall what the state of the debate about the future of legal education looked like prior to the publication of FLS. Law “scam” blogs accusing law schools and law professors of exploiting students, a “cesspool” of threats and slurs, anonymous posts making scandalous and vicious personal attacks on individual law school faculty members, and public statements by law schools, faculty, and the ABA making it appear as if the entire legal community was oblivious to the crisis facing students graduating law school during that period....
Look at the state of the debate after the publication of FLS. Almost all public statements on the issue are now clearly attributed to their authors. Academics publicly publish data under their own names. I am assuming, since it is cited in the paper, that FLS in part led Simkovic and McIntyre to pursue their project in the first place. In other words, FLS has done precisely what the highest and best scholarship can and should do – it increased the amount of knowledge in the world at the time, led to a better and more informed debate, and began the process of replacing emotion and opinion with facts and analysis.
I must say this is pure fiction from top to bottom. It omits, for example, the active role that Tamanaha played in legitimating a number of deranged "scam" blogs that were, and are, still "'cesspools' of threats and slurs" with "anonymous posts making scandalous and vicious personal attacks on individual law school faculty members." (If anything, they've gotten worse since Tamanaha's book, and are even more visible.) He did this by referencing them favorably in his book and, more remarkably, by sometimes posting encouraging comments on some of them. For this alone, he would deserve condemnation by his professional colleagues, even before we get to the damage done to the debate through the carelessness of significant parts of Failing Law Schools (some of that has come out in the recent debate, but when the detailed review of the book, and its reckless allegations, by Simkovic & McIntyre goes on SSRN, this will be clear to all).
But I do agree with Rosenzweig, as I said previously, that FLS collects good anecdotes, has an interesting (and unflattering) history of the regulation of law schools, and sensibly recommends a lighter regulatory hand to permit more experimentation with models of legal education. Its anecdotal approach to systematic issues, however, has seriously distorted the discussion of those issues, as the Simkovic & McIntyre paper makes clear.
I note, finally, that Prof. Rosenzweig, like so many, doesn't know the meaning of ad hominem. Prof. Simkovic was the victim of many ad hominem smears after his paper came out; Prof. Tamanaha has been spared them entirely.
UPDATE: Paul Horwitz (Alabama) has found a nice example of the "state of the debate" after Tamanaha's intervention--this from a "scam" blog on which Tamanaha has posted encouraging comments, I should add.
July 21, 2013
The Economic Value of a Law Degree: Week 1 Summary
In The Economic Value of a Law Degree Frank McIntyre and I measure differences in annual earnings and hourly wages between those with law degrees and similar individuals who end their education with a bachelor’s degree. We account for unemployment and disability risk.
We also control for many demographic, academic, and socio-economic characteristics other than law school attendance that predict earnings. In a supplemental analysis using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study, we incorporate additional control variables and tests for ability sorting and selection.
The Economic Value of a Law Degree was covered by:
- Steven Davidoff at the New York Times Dealbook
- Dylan Matthews at the Washington Post
- Jordan Weissmann at the Atlantic Monthly
- Lauren Ingeno at Inside Higher Education
- Debra Cassens Weiss at the ABA Journal
- Christina Sterbenz at Business Insider
Our first blog post at Concurring Opinions ends with a presentation of annual earnings premiums at the mean and median, as well as at the high and low end of the distribution.
Questions and Critiques
The low and and high ends of the distribution
- Brian Tamanaha mischaracterized our research as only presenting means in a quote to Inside Higher Education.
- We pointed out the error.
- Dylan Matthews at the Washington Post reported that Professor Tamanaha’s description of our research was “false.”
- Brian Tamanaha posted and emailed several new questions and comments, which we will begin to respond to this week.
Representativeness of the data
- We responded to questions about the representativeness of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (“SIPP”).
- Paul Campos, Jack Graves, Brian Tamanaha (in a comment below the post), and Derek Tokaz (in a comment below the post) misunderstood net present value and double-counted opportunity costs. Campos, Graves, and Tokaz arrived at median after-tax, after-tuition net present values for a law degree that are too low by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Tamanaha erroneously included undergraduate debt as a cost of attending law school.
- Stephen Diamond explained Net Present Value and Opportunity Cost and performed the correct calculation, and noted that the median after-tax, after-tuition net present value of the law degree was approximately $330,000 as of the start of law school.
- Adam Levitin, Jordan Weissmann, and Deborah Merritt ask how much we can learn about the future from data about the past. We will respond the week after next.
- John Steele at Legal Ethics Forum reports that according to NALP, median full time starting salaries increased dramatically between 1996 to 2011. He forgets to take inflation into account. In real terms, median starting salaries exhibited a pattern of cyclicality.
- Adam Levitin asks whether law school is underpriced.
Confusion at Above the Law
- Above the Law subsequently posted a correction.
- Above the Law mischaracterizes our research again, overlooking our careful controls for ability sorting and selection, described at length in Part II and Appendix A of The Economic Value of a Law Degree.
July 05, 2013
Comedy gold: Paul Campos offering advice to untenured law faculty...
...at another blog (yes, that Paul Campos). A commenter sums up the absurdity of the advice aptly: "Making a pain in the ass of yourself does not sound like a great way to hold onto your job when the axe comes down."
Campos is prompted to dispense his wisdom by the recent events at Vermont and Seton Hall (though in keeping with his pathological dishonesty in all matters Leiter-related, he complains that law blogs that cover faculty comings-and-going ignored these events). Up next: Campos will offer advice to tenured faculty on how to do well on their annual reviews.
June 28, 2013
Penetrating legal analysis of the Travon Martin/George Zimmerman case...
Fortunately, no mention of black helicopters.
Obama and the Democrats would actually prefer an acquittal [of Zimmerman, who shot Martin] here. That’s because the whole point of the ginned-up Zimmerman affair was to inflame racial sentiment to boost black turnout in 2012. With any luck, they can turn an acquittal into another racial rallying cry, which will help in 2014. It’s not about Zimmerman; he’s just one of those eggs you have to break to make an Obama omelet.
May 09, 2013
"Unsubstantiated assertion" and "platitudinous self-congratulation"
Professor Silver’s response [to Tamanaha] contains a number of unsubstantiated assertions. This Essay addresses three of them....These claims illustrate how, in my view, the crisis of the American law school is in large part a product of the tendency of law school faculty to indulge in platitudinous self-congratulation...
when juxtaposed in the very same piece with this bit of unsubstantiated self-congratulation:
These facts [about the bad job market for new lawyers and the high cost of law school], which are central to Tamanaha’s argument that the economics of American legal education are broken, did not become generally known through a perfect storm of market correction but rather via the efforts of a committed cadre of reformers....
I guess those who fancy themselves part of a "cadre" can't be expected to substantiate their self-congratulation.
February 28, 2013
Paul Campos's final bit of revisionist history
Several readers have written to alert me to the fact that apparently even Paul Campos has realized that his blog didn't have much content, apart from insulting and deriding Deans, faculty and anyone else who contested his claims. But, true to form, he can't say goodbye without just making things up out of whole cloth. He writes:
I started [the blog] because I had something to say, and this seemed a good way of saying it. For a few days I wrote anonymously – something I had never done before – more as a stylistic experiment than anything else. But naturally people in legal academia instantly became more concerned with Who Was Saying These Outrageous Things than in whether those things might actually be true.
that legal academia is operating on the basis of an unsustainable economic model, which requires most law students to borrow more money to get law degrees than it makes sense for them to borrow, given their career prospects, and that for many years law schools worked hard, wittingly or unwittingly, to hide this increasingly inconvenient truth from both themselves and their potential matriculants.
The key fact to remember about Paul Campos is that, in 2005, he went on Fox TV and called for a University of Colorado colleague, Ward Churchill, to be fired for his offensive political speech--not for alleged academic misconduct (allegations which came later), but simply for his political speech. Campos (who even directed at one time Colorado's center for constitutional law), in other words, realized he could get the media spotlight on himself by calling for a blatant violation of the First Amendment. (It's a standing problem of his.) That was the first clear sign that this was an individual without a core, intellectual or moral. Everything I've ever learned about Campos since (including much I've never written about) has confirmed that diagnosis.
Meanwhile, in the real world, I hope the ABA Task Force will consider some sensible changes to the status quo in legal education.
ADDENDUM: A colleague elsewhere writes: "I like how the lists of people he thanks includes everyone who proposed solutions and reforms to legal education, as though they were also supporters of his. I know for a fact that some people on those lists think Campos is a disgrace."
ANOTHER: Paul Horwitz (Alabama), ever the good, even-handed Canadian, comes to Campos's defense, and what a defense it is:
Campos seems to me to be essentially a journalist moonlighting as a law professor, and perhaps without some of the professional norms I would expect from a full-time journalist....
Many of his fans loved his writing style. I found it repetitive (how many times do you need to use the same quote from Upton Sinclair before it gets old?), self-indulgent, evasive and squirrelly, preening, and finally tedious. His analysis of the useful data he provided was often correct, in my view. But he seemed rarely content to make a basic point that would have been sufficiently devastating in itself, if the opportunity presented itself to make a far more tendentious de-haut-en-bas observation about some "big truth" that everyone but himself lacked the courage and acuity to recognize. A vivid style is one element of good writing; but so is self-restraint. Campos was much stronger on the former than the latter....
In short, there were plenty of reasons to find aspects of his blog objectionable, and his suggestion in his final post that everyone who objected to what he wrote did so either because they were angry at his intrepid truth-telling or because of personal animus seems to me badly exaggerated and self-serving. The latter seems especially silly because, judged by his writing, Campos certainly has no objection to responding to others in a personal rather than a substantive way and drawing broad conclusions about the motives of others.
The prosecution rests after that defense!
February 20, 2013
Paul Campos admits he doesn't "even [know] what it means" to think like a lawyer
This probably explains a lot. Fortunately, Fred Schauer has recently written a book that could help him with his questions, like, "What does it mean to teach people to think like lawyers? How is thinking like a lawyer different from ordinary thinking?"
(Thanks to Nick Smith for the pointer.)
UPDATE: A senior legal academic, who has been involved extensively with legal education reform, writes: "Keep up the Campos bashing. I think that some of the law school critics have done a good service. Even when I don't agree with everything, it was necessary for legal educators to give up a bit of complacency. I've never met Campos, but he is disgraceful." It's hard to disagree with any of that, but I don't really plan to keep up the "bashing," since, as we saw a few weeks back, by Campos's own admission, there really isn't much content to his routine.