Sunday, July 13, 2014
Prissy law professors? Insufferable? Quiche? Not always!
This is actually Part 37 of Sociology of Law Professors but I could not get it all on the same line.
I've not been around many work groups in my life time. In fact, for the most part, it has been laborers, lawyers, and law professors. In spite of that small sample, the prissiest and most insufferable group in the world must be law professor or those interested in what they have to say.
I have to describe some of them as "interested in" because some of the most insufferable language is found in anonymous comments on blogs. Although there are rumors that some of the anons are actual law professors and one Chicago blog Czar in particular I do not know that. In fact, that accusation may be completely wrong and the product of anons who just want to demonize the other professor.
The best place for the truly wacko and insufferable anon comments that I know of is the Faculty Lounge blog. Over there a barroom brawl among sissies can break out at any time. Things can be fine and then the discussion devolves into pure mush of innuendo, accusations, and a game of gotcha. I suspect the people most likely to pull the civility card when not anonymous are often anonymous when the calls for civility are rightfully attributed to lame efforts to silence someone or are ridiculed as they should be.
Those comments are not as much insufferable as they are evidence of a somewhat wacko need to one up the other guy without have to say anything substantive or say who you are.
Some of the signed comments are the most insufferable and penned by those who must have an amazing sense of importance. Over on the contracts list serve, a discussion of contract law quickly went to hobby lobby and then to thinly veiled law prof name calling with one truly screwed up person calling the dean at the school where one of the commentators teaches to complain about the commentator's comments. Yes, this may set the record for prissiest law professor. Hopefully the dean told the complainer to get professional help. I know I did suggest it would be appropriate if, that is, there is treatment for being an asshole.
Here is the type in insufferable language you might find over there and I suspect on any law professor list serve. This is only an example: "But I cannot help add that Peter today perpetuated the unfair "permission to post" meme that Ben started yesterday. Objecting to threads as being off topic are entirely appropriate on a subject matter listserve, though the objection could be unfounded. Characterizing it as Peter (and Ben) did as my insisting on my permission to post, and referring to me by name as Peter did this morning, is itself a polemical and uncollegial means of stifling fair comment."
That was the public post and I do not mean to pick on that writer specifically or Peter or Ben, whoever they are. You may disagree but when I see "polemic," and "uncollegial," I begin to tear up. Just kidding. I do not know if the writer was the dean caller but when I responded publicly that the full comment sounded a bit over the top in the self importance department, here is the private and intimate note I receive in response: "Maybe you should have hesitated a moment before pressing send, Jeff. That's an asshole comment to make and I am telling you that directly and not anonymously."
Of course, while not anonymous, this note came "off list" so none of those who read the list would know about it or how quickly words like polemic and uncollegial gave way to "asshole."
I loved the private response. First, because as my pal Eric Fink reminds me, it's not worth writing if it does not get under someone's skin. Second, because the writer -- someone who I now have much more respect for -- was willing to forego the code words of law professors and show some emotion. Third, it reveals he can be a real person, not just the typical posturing, indirect priss, so many law professors are.