Home / General / Brian Leiter’s slow-motion car crash, con’t

Brian Leiter’s slow-motion car crash, con’t


Updated below

This is the third in a series of posts about the increasingly bizarre and disturbing behavior of Prof. Brian Leiter of the University of Chicago Law School. (Earlier entries can be found here and here.) So if the subject doesn’t interest you I suggest you don’t read the post, and/or ask for a refund of this month’s subscription to LGM.

To recap, Leiter, who has a long history of obsessively pursuing his on-line critics, (as well as, it turns out, engaging in egregiously fraudulent sock puppetry; “PhiloStudent” is Leiter pseudonymously encouraging people to attend U of C because of the presence of legal-philosophical luminaries such as Brian Leiter) has over the past week been cyber-stalking and harassing at least four people I know of, both under a pseudonym and under his own name, while at the same time threatening at least two web sites with negative repercussions, perhaps including legal action, if they did not remove certain posts critical of him (In at least one of these cases Leiter did not even allege that the posts in question were legally actionable – merely that they were viciously mean-spirited, and ought to be removed for that reason. This is akin to be accused of financial fraud by Bernie Madoff.)

The most disturbing aspect of Leiter’s latest outburst of cyber-harassment is that it was made possible because at least one other legal academic revealed confidential information about Leiter’s critics to him. Both of these critics posted messages at The Faculty Lounge – a web site run by Dan Filler, a Drexel University law professor who co-blogs with Leiter and Leiter’s law school site. People who comment at TFL are required to submit an e-mail, and their IP addresses are recorded by the blog’s tracking technology.

This weekend, using the e-mail address [email protected], Leiter sent a pair of pseudonymous, stalkeresque emails to one commenter, via the email address the commenter had used at TFL (and which is only visible to the site’s administrators). Leiter also sent a threatening e-mail, via his University of Chicago e-mail account, to a lawyer whose name is that same as that used in the email address of another critic (Leiter employed the lawyer’s work email rather the e-mail address submitted to TFL).

In the latter case, Leiter told a transparent lie, claiming that “several colleagues” had claimed that the lawyer was responsible for certain critical comments posted about Leiter – comments which Leiter claimed to have just become aware of, although he had actually seen them — and that Leiter was contacting him to give him an opportunity to disassociate himself from these comments, which, should they actually have been authored by him, would damage the lawyer’s reputation. (The purpose of this lie was obviously to try to trap the lawyer into making what Leiter was sure, given the information he already possessed, would be a false statement).

Leiter also used the aduren handle to post at JD Underground, in an attempt to discover the identity of “dybbuk,” another on-line critic. His post asked “is dyybuk ____?” He then replied to his own post, with the message “That’s the rumor.” The post was deleted by the JDU admin (who, unfortunately, had just acceded to Leiter’s demands that an old thread begun by dyybuk be deleted. I don’t have any reason to believe the admin realized that “aduren” was actually Leiter).

In sum, someone last week fed Leiter the emails and IP addresses of several pseudonymous online critics, who he proceeded to harass. Via a process of elimination that I can’t detail for reasons of confidentiality, I concluded that the only site that was in a position to out all the people Leiter contacted subsequently was The Faculty Lounge.

On Tuesday, I contacted Dan Filler, to ask him why TFL deleted a comment asking if TFL was disclosing e-mail addresses and IPs to third parties. He didn’t reply, so I e-mailed him again, telling him that I was going to point out that TFL was the most likely source of the breach of confidentiality, and that Filler himself was the most likely person at TFL to have allowed the breach. Again, I got no reply.

Then last night I got an e-mail from someone who was deeply concerned about whether TFL’s breach of confidentiality had compromised the anonymity of commenters in this thread, in which people talked candidly about highly sensitive matters (after being assured by the OP’s author – not Filler – that their confidentiality would be maintained).

If time allows, I implore you to revisit this issue in LGM or some other format. There could be serious reverberations if the allegations against Dan Filler and TFL are substantiated. For starters, many VAPs anonymously posted critical/candid/courageous comments in the “VAP Trap” thread. It would not surprise me if Leiter wanted to track down who these heretics were. If TFL provided him with info for commentators on the VAP thread, this would be a betrayal of user/poster trust of epic proportions.

I asked the e-mailer to expand on his/her concerns, to which he/she replied:

There is an extensive colloquy on the VAP thread between various posters sharing their concerns about anonymity in the context of the survey of VAP outcomes being compiled. Most of the relevant posts in this vein were posted on 2/24 and 2/25.

For starters, Eric Muller (a TFL moderator) promised the survey’s founder (Another VAP Out in the Cold) complete anonymity if he/she e-mailed him the preliminary survey results. Obviously this promise of anonymity would be dishonored if Dan Filler shared the poster’s IP/e-mail address with Brian Leiter. Relevant Muller post – 2/24/13 at 8:30 PM

On the VAP thread, the poster “Damaged Goods” posted some of the more provocative and heretical information. He explicitly mentioned the reality that several top VAP programs essentially misled applicants about employment outcomes. His 2/24/13 post at 3:21 PM is most relevant. It’s not much of a strech to infer that an obsessive like Leiter with so much invested in rankings/prestige (and the Bigelow program) would want to identify this individual.

It is apparent that “Damaged Goods” was concerned about the preservation of his/her anonymity. On 2/25/13 at 8:04 AM and 11:43 AM he/she mentions concerns about completing the VAP survey because his/her true identity would “only be a google search away.” Other relevant posts about anonymity concerns were from “Anonymous VAP” on 2/25/13 at 8:51AM; “Another VAP Out in the Cold” on 2/25/13 at 11:25 AM; and “Anon” on 2/25/13 at 11:54 AM.

Thanks for your follow up e-mail. I’ve posted several times in the past day on TFL (anonymously) in an effort to draw attention to my concerns that Leiter/Filler betrayed the anonymity/privacy of the VAP posters. While I have no evidence that they did, Filler and TFL need to come out unequivocally on the record to restore any trust remaining in TFL. If they did use IP/e-mail addresses to identify VAP thread posters for Leiter, this immediately becomes a huge story in legal academia and higher education.

(A VAP is a visiting assistant professorship – a one or two year position that aspiring legal academics take in the hope of securing a tenure-track position, almost always at another school from that at which they’re doing a VAP).

If Filler gave Leiter information about people who posted in the VAP thread – or worse yet, if Filler has given Leiter admin privileges at TFL and therefore unlimited access to the e-mail addresses and IPs of commenters at the site — then the promises of anonymity made in the VAP thread will have turned out to be worse than worthless. I therefore once more e-mailed Filler early this morning:


Please answer the following questions:

(1) How many email addresses and/or IPs of commenters at TFL have been transmitted to Brian Leiter, either by you personally or by other means?
(2) How did this transmission take place? Did you personally supply him with email addresses and IPs, or does he have independent access to the emails and IPs of commenters, which allows him to look up this information himself?
(3) Are any or all of your co-bloggers aware of Leiter’s level of access to confidential information about commenters on the blog?

If you refuse to answer these questions or fail to reply, I’m going to assume that Leiter does have independent access to confidential information about commenters, and that your co-bloggers are unaware of this. I’m sure you can appreciate that, under the circumstances, people throughout the legal community are assuming the worst about your actions in this matter. If that assumption is incorrect, I suggest you make this clear.

I also left a voicemail on his office phone, asking that he at least let me know whether he was planning to answer these questions. I’ve received no reply.

In sum, any visiting assistant professors, present or former, who posted anonymously in the VAP thread on TFL would do well to assume that Brian Leiter – an obsessive, vindictive cyber-stalker, who boasts openly about his attempts to damage peoples’ careers – knows your identity, and will do with it what people like Brian Leiter do with information of this sort.

Update: I would have thought it was impossible for me to have a lower opinion of Brian Leiter’s moral character, and/or deeper suspicions about his mental health, but then I read this astonishingly mendacious response to the claims in these posts. Suffice it to say (for now) that Leiter manages to give the impression that he’s denying the truth of what I wrote without actually denying almost anything. He doesn’t deny that he’s “Peter Aduren,” he doesn’t deny that he sent emails to the formerly anonymous people with whom I spoke (and who considered these emails to be cyber-harrassment), and he doesn’t even deny that Dan Filler wrongfully and quite possibly illegally disclosed the email addresses of these people to him after they provided confidential information to TFL, in order to post at that site. The record, I think, pretty much now speaks for itself.

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  • Scott Lemieux

    As I may say at greater length if I get around to a follow-up post, this actually is important; keep at it.

    • LuigiDaMan

      I’m an academic in a different field. I also hold a fairly decent position in a huge communications organization.

      While I have no particular dog in this game, I am disturbed by the situation and can see it spreading to other areas.

      Therefore, I must agree — Please keep at it.

  • Brandon

    ““PhiloStudent” is Leiter pseudonymously encouraging people to attend U of C because of the presence of legal-philosophical luminaries such as Brian Leiter”

    hahahaha, this made my afternoon

    • Medrawt

      I have mixed feelings about my alma mater, but the fact that the most visible people associated with it are, at best, douchebags, causes me serious agita.

      • calling all toasters

        Does anger combined with contempt count as “mixed feelings”? Because then I’m right with you. My U of C professors were by and large the scum of the earth, and the higher-ups were worse.

        • Halloween Jack

          This is supposed to be one of the best law schools in the nation, right?

          • Eric Rasmusen

            It is. You shouldn’t abuse them this way without giving some specifics. There is no way someone can defend against a general claim such as “you are scum”, but it will have some impact. Maybe the poster was expelled for cheating, but we don’t know.

            What *is* appropriate is to give specific examples and names. Then, if the story is false or twisted, the person can refute it.

            • calling all toasters

              You are certainly correct. No one on the internet should voice an opinion unless they are willing to be sued for same opinion.

              You might want to look up the definition of “someone” though. And I won’t even ask you to name all the exemplars!

              “Maybe the poster was expelled for cheating, but we don’t know.” Mickey Kaus? I thought you were dead!

          • calling all toasters

            I was an undergrad there. Sorry if you got the wrong impression.

    • john

      You have to read the whole PhiloStudent thread to see just what a deranged man Leiter is (there is a link in one of the other posts).

  • I know the whiners will be in a bit later, but I just wanna say I don’t mind posts like this at all. Ya gotta post what’s interesting to ya, and people what ain’t happy with that are just being whiners.

    Also, Brian Leiter is a dork.

    • daveNYC

      Screw the whiners. This story has backstabbings, betrayals, underdogs and egomaniacs. Anyone who isn’t digging on this has no soul.

      • Michael

        “Has it got any sports in it?”
        “Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…”

      • Hogan

        I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me.

        • pete

          +1 (and I dropped out of law school before I signed the first check)

      • cpinva

        i think campos should push this as a possible summer replacement type “prime time” soap opera. it has “cable tv” written all over it.

    • terry buckalew

      Indeed. I have really enjoyed keeping up with this story.

      • Shakezula

        Anything that involves exposure and mocking of bullies keeps my attention.

        • firefall

          A miniseries: Lonesome Dove Law

          • Riders of the Purple VPN.

          • Uncle Ebeneezer

            It’s Deadwood with less cursing and more emoticons!

    • Chet Murthy

      D**n straight!

      More than that, this side-story to The Scam has something else: educational value for people -outside- of the legal profession, about the lengths to which people will go, in furthering their continued receipt of paychecks (to fold, spindle, and warp Upton Sinclair). In short, I gotta believe that once upon a time, this guy was a decent young law student. Look at what participating in The Scam has done to him.

      I’m reminded of The Wire. Yeah, that’s high art. But still, these personal stories are important and educational for all of us buried in the entrails of the massive bureaucracies, trying to keep our souls.

      • Pooh

        I think the Wire is a very apt comparison, considering Simon has been explicit that one of the main themes of the Wire is the violence (sometimes literal but usually not) done to individuals by institutions.

      • In short, I gotta believe that once upon a time, this guy was a decent young law student.

        On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that someone who is a prick today has been a prick since pre-school.


      • spencer

        You can’t even type the word “damn”?

  • West of the Cascades

    Brian Leiter is a shit-bag. Thank you Paul for keeping after this.

  • About Drexel:

    The school is ranked 119th in the 2013 ranking of the best law schools by U.S. News & World Report.

    I wonder why a guy from Drexel would suck up to Leiter.

    • Hogan

      If there was one thing the Philadelphia area didn’t have in 2006, it was enough law schools. With only Penn, Temple, Villanova, Widener, and Rutgers-Camden, it was a wonder we had any lawyers at all.

      • Scott Lemieux

        And certainly nobody in Philadelphia would consider attending law school in the NYC or D.C. areas, in the unlikely event that those cities have any law schools.

      • John

        Yeah, the existence of Drexel Law is pretty egregious.

    • JoyfulA

      Yes, it’s a surprise to me that Drexel Institute of Technology has a law school. I had heard that it bought Hahnemann Hospital to acquire a medical school, but this is the first time I read “Drexel Law School.”

      • ER Doc

        They actually picked up the shattered remains of Allegheny Medical College after the for-profit hospital chain that owned it went broke. Allegheny was the combination of the former Hahnemann University and Medical College of Philadelphia. The medical school would have been defunct if Drexel or someone else hadn’t taken it over.

    • tsam

      Substance! Been a long time man! Good to see your nym.

      • N__B

        Uh…tsam…that’s a comment from 2013.

        • Malaclypse

          To be fair, that has been a long time.

          Good morning, Mister McGravitas, wherever you are.

  • Lois Turner

    Here’s an interesting post from Leiter in 2007, deploring the practice of cyberstalking.


    • Shakezula

      Indeed, until October 2005, I had never even responded publically to his repeated scurrilous attacks and slanderous tirades.

      For serious?

    • terry buckalew

      That is almost unbelievable…his blog comments and overall tone used when talking about the UT-A prof., that is.

  • John F

    I thunk Campos is a wee bit obsessed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone accuses him of cyber-bulling over this, but…

    I must say that these threads do have some entertainment value though.

    Regarding Leiter and Law School faculties in general, the further away I get from Law School the more I realize that virtually all tenured profs at my school were basically complete nitwits- the legal profession is not practiced the way they imagine it to be, and as far as “thinking like lawyer” is concerned it’s pretty damn hard for someone to teach someone how to think like a lawyer when you don’t have clue how lawyers think.

    Also Case Books suck- I mean they’d be actually vaguely useful as a supplement in teaching someone how to read cases and write a brief- but as your main teaching tool, for teaching law???? Yowza, get a damn hornbook…

  • ChrisTS

    A) Of course he should post about what interests him.
    B) As SL notes, this is important.

  • T. Paine

    I really appreciate these posts, Paul. Thanks. I’ve been marginally aware of Leiter for a while, and he always struck me as a worrisome sort. The fact that a self-proclaimed opponent of anonymity is (likely) engaging in egregious sock puppetry and the use of pseudonyms to attack people he dislikes is not surprising, but should be shocking (for the hypocrisy and bad faith).

    • Malaclypse

      Not only that, but the behavior of the TFL admins is egregious. That is arguably the bigger part of the story.

  • Monday Night Frotteur

    U of C hires some odd birds. There’s a full fledged cyber-stalker, that guy who made +$250,000 yet whined incessantly about his taxes and said he was “just getting by,” Eric Posner…

    • brad

      Apples and oranges and all that, but I’m also reminded of which school’s Econ Dept plays a central role in Klein’s “Shock Doctrine”.
      Not to mention a certain asshole’s misuse of Plato to justify elitism.
      Makes me very glad I went with a different option for undergrad.

      • fledermaus

        Let’s also not forget the brilliant Casey Mulligan and his magical “marginal tax rates” that show that min wage, medicaid, EITC, SSDI, and food stamps be keepin’ the poors down.

      • Brandon C.

        I’ve always been happy I ended up being rejected from that school. They seem to always show up on the wrong end of things for some reason.

        Also, after studying the classics, its really not that hard to misuse Plato to justify elitism. Its not really that hard to use almost any Classical author to justify elitism for that matter.

        • brad

          True enough, but Strauss’s scholarship sucks sweaty monkey balls, to be highly technical, and arguably completely inverts Platonic elitism.
          Fairy tales to help the rich and powerful feel they deserve their privileges aren’t good Platonism. Or at least I’d argue so.

          • Incontinentia Buttocks

            Leiter hates Strauss with the heat of a thousand suns, not that that’s any larger defense of Leiter.

        • Beowulf

          This is why I only read Aristophanes.

          • Hogan

            Huh. That came out weird.

          • brad

            Because he arguably misunderstood who Socrates was, or at least uncritically made use of the persona S’s critics had put forward, and yet was given a very respectable speech by Plato in Symposium?

          • Reality

            This is the stuff of Aristophanes.

      • Origami Isopod

        Plato was an elitist. That doesn’t mean he was correct.

    • Ted

      Don’t forget the grand nutcase of them of all, Cass Sunstein.

      • Ted

        I don’t know much about the other people mentioned above at u of C and won’t comment on them but Cass Sunstein is very very bad.

  • P.S.

    I’d like to think that these posts will eventually cure Herr Leitershosen of whatever drives him to be such a vengeful little maggot.

    They might also shame his enablers out of being incredible candy asses.

    • Shakezula

      C’est moi, damn it!

  • Stephen

    I think that Paul should seriously reconsider his perpetuation of this confrontation. Although he does not mention it in his post, most of the information it contains was gleaned by someone hacking the aduren email account that (allegedly) belongs to Leiter. This is wrong, regardless of what else one thinks about Leiter.

    Paul has not only failed to condemn this hacking, but also (a) used information from it in several posts; (b) linked directly to it in several posts; (c) used information from it to send hostile emails to Dan Filler.

    This display doesn’t make anyone come off well. The moderators of this board, rather than encouraging Paul in his efforts, should delete this and the previous two posts.

    • I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me.

    • Paul Campos

      The only piece of information in this post derived from the hacking of Leiter’s throwaway gmail account is the sock puppetry on TLS. I discovered all the other information in it — and in the other two posts — independently.

      • Stephen

        So does that mean you acknowledge utilizing information from the hacking, linking to it directly, and failing to condemn it?

        • Paul Campos

          Obviously the hacking of the paduren account was wrong.

          Just as obviously this fact doesn’t have the slightest relevance to what Leiter has done and continues to do.

          But harping on it makes for a nice attempt at misdirection.

          • Stephen

            If you think the hacking was wrong (and also that it was done as a result of your first post on the topic), then perhaps you should say so a little more prominently.

            As for the other comments in this thread:
            -I’m not Brian Leiter (although I have met him once).
            -Sorry if I come off as douche-y, concern troll-ey, parodic, etc.
            -Being a hypocrite doesn’t mean that you should get your email hacked. Nor does trying to out anonymous posters on internet forums. Nor does using a throwaway email account.
            -Paul’s three posts should be deleted.

            • sibusisodan

              How much more prominently should he say it? Give us a range of font sizes. Stick your neck out.

              Also, if the wrongness of the hacking is acknowledged in the appropriate typography and formatting, will you then be able to care about the more significant matters at hand?

            • Anon

              How about using a throwaway email account to send messages like “how are things in [state person lives in]” or “everyone knows your IP address is [number]” ?

              Those are threatening emails. The recipient has no idea what the author is implying or plans to do with the information they’ve come across. That is meant to terrorize. That’s what Leiter was doing with that throwaway email account.

              • Paul Campos

                The point about sociopaths reflexively transforming themselves into victims is a good one, and makes me feel almost sorry for Brian, as he struggles with painful philosophical dilemma that he can’t point to the fact that he’s the real victim here, without at the same time acknowledging that he actually sent those emails.

                It’s really all very unfair when you think about it from the sociopath’s point of view.

                • Stephen


                  I agree that sociopathy would be a very lonely state. I sincerely doubt that Leiter is a sociopath, and I don’t think much is gained by calling him one.

                  Also, I don’t think it’s necessary to call anyone “the real victim.” There can be multiple victims to a wrongdoing. Some of those victims can even have done wrong themselves. (I don’t know if Leiter did anything wrong; I’m just saying that he could have done something wrong and still be a victim.)

                  I reiterate my call for you to do the following (perhaps in an update to the above post):

                  (a) take responsibility for the fact that (apparently) Leiter’s email was hacked by someone as a response to your post;

                  (b) indicate that it was not right for you to link to and post information from this hacking to construct other posts, as well as your emails to Dan Filler;

                  (c) convey that Leiter didn’t deserve to get hacked, regardless of whether he tried to compromise the anonymity of some posters to internet forums. People can disagree with what Leiter thinks (about law school in general, about you in particular) without doing things like hacking email accounts.

                • I don’t know if Leiter did anything wrong

                  Yes you do.

                • Malaclypse

                  Concern troll still hopes, more in sadness than in anger, that people will share his concerns.

                • I call impertinence immaturity and insolence. He’s a mere commenter, unknown and uncredentialed and possibly unwashed.

              • Eric Rasmusen

                Quite right, Anon. If Smith uses his anonymity for bad purposes, then he loses his moral right to anonymity: Jones should not feel guilty about exposing him.

                What is legal is not the same as what is moral, but in this case wouldn’t something like the “unclean hands” doctrine prevent Smith from suing Jones for damages?

            • rea

              The exclusionary rule only applies to criminal prosecutions. Telling the world that it must forget what it knows about Prof. Leiter because some small part of that information was arguably obtained improperly is out of touch with reality.

              • TWBB

                Even if it was a criminal prosecution (with Paul the prosecutor) the exclusionary principle wouldn’t apply because Paul himself did not hack or have anybody else hack the account. It was a non-governmental third party.

                • I note that (unless I’ve overlooked or misinterpreted something) everyone is taking at face value the anonymously-made claim in the earlier thread to have meddled with aduren‘s e-mail account, and thereby learned various things to Leiter’s discredit. Now, the post making that claim was certainly very circumstantial, and if I had to bet one way or another, I’d bet that it was substantially truthful. But its truth has certainly not been proved (in public, by anyone who has posted here). Paul Campos’s acceptance of the truth of one of the several claims (discreditable to Leiter) made by the anonymous poster, given that Campos (says he) had independent verification of all the rest of those claims, seems reasonable: but I don’t see that it in any way inculpates him.

                  I am, however, thinking like a mathematician, not a lawyer, so I may be missing the point entirely.

                • Pooh

                  While this is correct as a statement of the law as it is, I would think that Lemieux et al would (and have) argue strenuously that this is a rule swallowing exception to 4A, and not a norm to be internalized.

            • cpinva

              “-I’m not Brian Leiter (although I have met him once).”

              well i’m convinced. ok, i lied. no, i’m not convinced. i’m guessing, if campos were the vindictive type, he’d get your IP address, track it down and out you here. i’m also guessing you aren’t smart enough to either use another computer, or figure out how to (at least temporarily) mask your IP address.

              but i’m also guessing campos has a little more class than leiter does.

            • TWBB

              Wait, “Stephen,” Paul has now fully conceded the hacking was wrong. Doesn’t that put your mind to rest? Why should he delete the 3 posts?

              You have to have some sort of moral argument here in support, right?

              • Maybe he should delete the posts because search results will forever link Brian Leiter to reports of completely avoidable dickheadedness. And that would be wrong!

                • OmerosPeanut

                  Kind of like George Tierney, Jr of Greenville South Carolina? That kind of internet fame is not forced upon someone. No, it’s something they earn through their own sweat and tears.

                  Mostly tears.

            • djw

              I invite you to contemplate how

              -Paul’s three posts should be deleted.

              might cast doubt on the sincerity of

              -Sorry if I come off as douche-y, concern troll-ey, parodic, etc.

              in the eyes of many a reader.

              • This reader, for one.

                The “the three posts should be deleted’ is an “interesting” non sequitur.

                I really hope Stephen isn’t a Leiter sock puppet because that’s just horribly sad.

            • Advokat

              As for the other comments in this thread:
              -I’m not Brian Leiter (although I have met him once).


              From the TLS blog, from a posting provocatively titled “Brian Leiter in the top 10? Or is he?”, in which “philostudent” took an intense interest, for some reason:

              Post subject: Re: Brian Leiter in the top 10? Or is he?
              Posted: Sun Jun 29, 2008 10:39 am

              Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 9:02 pm
              Archived Posts: 8
              Actually I was reading some of Kim’s papers in “Supervenience and Mind.”

              I suppose your quick resort to juvenile ad hominems (and your odd obsession with penises), as well as your repeated fudging what you actually said, is to be expected from someone whose reach so plainly exceeds her grasp. (I am in a top 15-20 PhD program, that isn’t close to the top ten, FYI.)…

              Curious that PhiloStudent claimed to be a grad student, although I guess a very close reading of the comment would leave open the possibility that he was a faculty member “in a top 15-20 PhD program”.

            • OmerosPeanut

              -Paul’s three posts should be deleted.

              Way to show your hand early.

            • Nichole

              Concern troll or this Leiter jerk under yet another pseudonym? “Stephen,” you seem very able to point out Paul’s peccadilloes while apparently overlooking all of Leiter’s

              That’s pretty lame, dude. You desire responsibility to be taken by others, take a smidgen for yourself.

            • spencer

              -Paul’s three posts should be deleted.

              Why? Nothing you say in your comments comes close to justifying this statement.

    • daveNYC

      His email was hacked? Really? That’s what we’re throwing out there?

      Though obviously Paul should condemn this horrible incident, appologize to poor Dan (who I assume would be willing to pick up the phone this time), throw all records of these events down the memory hole, and make time to remember who the real victim is in all of this: Brian Leiter.

      • Stephen

        I think we have a different understanding of the term “victim.” Brian Leiter has been a victim here, regardless of what else he is alleged to have done. Paul Campos did not hack into his email account, but he is (at least) complicit in it.

        • Brian Leiter has been a victim here, regardless of what else he is alleged to have done.

          Just to be clear, would you agree that Brian Leiter has been a weird stalker douchebag and hypocrite?

          • brad

            How could someone who wrote

            Among the weirder aspects of KBJ’s obsession is that he claims to believe that critiques of anyone–polemical or otherwise–for saying something false, stupid, or pernicious are forbidden, and constitute “abuse” (!) and impermissible “harm” of someone’s career. Anyone familiar with his many weird blogs can understand, of course, why he would prefer that criticizing stupidity, ignorance, and venality were off-limits (and also why he never responds on the merits to any of the arguments). A more alarming interpretation (suggested by a commenter here) is that his particular psychological ailment leads him to systematically misinterpret what others say and do: so, e.g., criticizing someone’s bad arguments is “really” an effort to destroy their career, and so on.*

            be a hypocrite? It’s unpossible.

            • John F

              Among the weirder aspects of KBJ’s obsession

              I Googled KBJ and Leiter, and found some old blog posts from KBJ claiming that Leiter was obsessed with him (not the other way around)… and really what was odd was how similar these two men wrote about eachother…

              • spencer

                Yeah, to my non-philosophically-trained eye, KBJ doesn’t look a whole lot better than Leiter, especially when he spends an inordinate amount of time slagging some guy named Clark Wolf.

        • daveNYC

          …but he is (at least) complicit in it.

          Nice. Get that blade good and sharp before you slip it betwen the ribs.

        • cpinva

          “I think we have a different understanding of the term “victim.” Brian Leiter has been a victim here, regardless of what else he is alleged to have done.”

          yes brian, i understand most sociopaths feel this way.

          i have no dog in this fight. that said, your pathetically obvious attempts to threaten someone’s job, because you took offense at their opinion, puts you in the below single-celled section of the class chain.

          by the way, have some pancakes, with some nice, warm, better-living-through-chemistry “maple” syrup.

        • Pouca

          How was Campos complicit in it. I pointed out that aduren was Neruda in reverse and the Leiter liked to comment on Neruda. Someone totally unbidden by Campos – a person who had received threatening e-mails from this account (not Campos, not me) guessed that the odious little shit might have used Neruda as the password, tried it, and while not sending any emails that we know of or indeed disclosing the exact contents posted here that he/she confirmed that it was Leiter’s account.

          They hacked the account on their own, posted the information on their own – that information, that it is Leiter’s account is a bell that cannot be un-rung. No one asked for the hack to take place – but it happened.

        • I think we have a different understanding of the term “victim.” Brian Leiter has been a victim here, regardless of what else he is alleged to have done. Paul Campos did not hack into his email account, but he is (at least) complicit in it.

          Wait, so you believe this throw away email account belongs to Leiter? Why? If so, do you not also believe that the email account was used in a rather problematic way? Why not?

          What’s the large moral difference in hacking an account (via an easily guessed password) and ferreting out the IP address of someone who presumed that their identity was held confidentially? Esp. if in the former case, bad actions were exposed and in the latter bad actions were performed?

        • Tybalt

          I don’t understand the strenuousness of the objection. This isn’t Brian Leiter’s email account that he uses to communicate with students and plan his social calendar. This is Brian Leiter’s email account that he’s using to sockpuppet other peoples’ blogs and blackmail people from. I don’t think I owe the second one much privacy respect at all, honestly.

    • sibusisodan

      Interesting that you’re contrasting your reading of what Campos has done with the opinion one should hold about Leiter. I don’t think that’s a useful comparison. In fact that whole attempt to make an equivalence out of this is…wrongheaded, at the mildest.

      At this point, it has very little to do with whose opinion of whom is what. There appears to be evidence that the anonymity of several people online (who’s anonymity in certain matters is pretty important for their jobs and careers) may have been compromised, and the ‘hostile’ emails about which you register a concern aim to discover if that’s the case.

      Let’s hope it’s not the case. But it’s not looking good.

      If LGM does as you demand (they won’t), where does that get us? Perhaps several peoples’ feelings won’t be hurt, and people won’t look bad on the internet.

      But it does mean that the individuals concerned won’t actually know whether their anonymity has been compromised.

      Don’t you think that’s a more important concern than how somebody is coming off?

    • Jason

      “This display doesn’t make anyone come off well. The moderators of this board, rather than encouraging Paul in his efforts, should delete this and the previous two posts.”

      Haha. Yeah, good idea there “Stephen.”

    • Jon Hendry

      Does Stephen have a U of C ip address?

      • Malaclypse

        I was wondering the same.

    • Monday Night Frotteur


      This message has a distinct, dildo-ish whiff of Brian Leiter to it.

    • Shakezula

      …most of the information it contains was (allegedly) gleaned by someone (allegedly) hacking the aduren email account that (allegedly) belongs to Leiter. This is (allegedly) wrong, regardless of what else one (allegedly) thinks about Leiter.

      Because what an anonymous person says in the comments section of must be gospel truth and is automatically the responsibility of the person or entity that has provided a comment function, and further that person or entity explicitly approves of everything posted in comments, even though I seem to recall vigorous push back against laws that say allowing comments makes one responsible for the content of said comments because a few seconds of reflection shows that way madness and massive lawsuits lies.

      I also just realized that when I use “one,” I am being tongue in cheek, but it comes off incredibly wankish. Thanks.

    • (the other) Davis

      Concern troll much?

    • Jameson Quinn

      How do you know that? It seems that the commendable sentiments you express would not require any anonymity.

    • Lois Turner

      Fuck off Leiter, erm, I mean Stephen.

  • Jon Hendry

    “Dan Filler, a Drexel University law professor”

    ARGH. Why does Drexel only ever come up in shitty circumstances.

    Please don’t answer that.

    (CIS ’98)

    • Western Dave

      Drexel undergrad has terrific engineering, a cool co-op program, and a killer music business program. There, feel better?

      • Jon Hendry

        Thanks. I have no idea what to make of the recent additions and growth: whether the law school and medical school are credible or if the whole university is morphing into something like the loan-gorged scammy for-profit schools.

  • arguingwithsignposts

    In sum, any visiting assistant professors, present or former, who posted anonymously in the VAP thread on TFL would do well to assume that Brian Leiter – an obsessive, vindictive cyber-stalker, who boasts openly about his attempts to damage peoples’ careers – knows your identity, and will do with it what people like Brian Leiter do with information of this sort.

    Kind of burying the lede here. I think this should go above the “Read More” break.

  • encephalopath

    It just took a few installments for the plot lines to develop. Now that a sock puppet is over a barrel, I think you have full audience buy-in.

    Can’t wait to see what happens next.

  • cpinva

    one comment: there is no such thing as “anonymity” on the internet. never has been, never will be. if someone really, really, really wants to find out who you are, they can. just as you can never “delete” a photo off the net, you ultimately can’t hide on the net either. your IP address can be found. depending on the skill level of the searcher, it might be found quickly or take a bit of time, but found it will be.

    that’s why i don’t bother trying to hide. the only reason i don’t use my full name, is because i’m too damn lazy to spell it out every time i post somewhere, but it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who i am, and i really don’t care.

    • one comment: there is no such thing as “anonymity” on the internet. never has been, never will be.

      Yes there is, if you try hard, and if people give you a little respect. I don’t try particularly hard, so any of the folks at the sites I frequent should be able to put my identity together, but, you know, they don’t seem to make that effort. I don’t and won’t know who you are for instance.

      You might as well say there is no anonymity anywhere ever because anyone can put up a camera. That might be true, but the concept of anonymity survives such practical gotchas because people need it (and they’re generally not assholes like Brian Leiter).

    • shah8

      And when the USA turns into a fascist dictatorship concerned with the “psychological suitability” of their citizens, you’ll be just fine?



      Yeah, fuck that shit. Too lazy.

    • brad

      Honestly, that depends. I’m not too technical, but IPs can change, be changed, and falsified, and besides that, if you’re careful with your privacy and don’t attach truly personal info to anon identities it can be very difficult to make the necessary connections. Hackers and such, yes, but we’re mostly humanities academics here.
      I stay semi-anon just out of habit, but did find it interesting that when I ran Fire Megan McArdle there were somewhat frequent anon comments asking me why I didn’t blog under my full name, the strong, sometimes direct, implication being that I should give them the chance to speak ill of me to my employers and/or examine me personally.

      While the personal elements of this story mean nothing to me, there’s so many interesting underlying dilemmas and debates it ends up truly fascinating to delve into.

      • spencer

        Those concerns are pretty much exactly why I handed in my set of keys to that blog after just a few weeks.

    • LeftWingFox

      No locked door is ever truly pick-proof either, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be concerned when my landlady gives the spare keys to my stalker.

    • David Nieporent

      your IP address can be found.

      Use public wi-fi. Or use the Internet at the library.

  • ubermensch

    From the Routledge Philosophical Guidebook to Nietzsche on Morality, by Brian Leiter (2002):

    Who, then, are Nietzsche’s “higher men”?

    1 The higher type is solitary and deals with others only instrumentally. “Every choice human being,” says Nietzsche, “strives instinctively for a citadel and a secrecy where he is saved from the crowd, the many, the great majority . . .”

    Unsurprisingly, then, the great or higher man lacks the “congeniality” and “good-naturedness” so often celebrated in contemporary popular culture. “A great man . . . is incommunicable: he finds it tasteless to be familiar” (WP: 962). More than that, though, the higher type deals with others, when he has to, in a rather distinctive way: “A human being who strives for something great considers everyone he meets on his way either as a means or as a delay and obstacle – or as a temporary resting place” (BGE: 273). Thus, “a great man . . . wants no ‘sympathetic’ heart, but servants, tools; in his intercourse with men, he is always intent on making something out of them” (WP: 962).

    2 The higher type seeks burdens and responsibilities, as he is driven towards the completion of a unifying project. “What is noble?” Nietzsche again asks in a Nachlass note of 1888. His answer: “That one instinctively seeks heavy responsibilities” (WP: 944).

    5 The higher man has a distinctive bearing towards others and especially towards himself: he has self-reverence. “The ‘higher nature’ of the great man,” says Nietzsche in a striking Nachlass note of 1888 “lies in being different, in incommunicability, in distance of rank, not in an effect of any kind – even if he made the whole globe tremble” (WP: 876; cf. GS: 55).

    . . . a rhetorical tone like Nietzsche’s – looked at in the context of his life – does not really suggest realism about the content, but rather desperation on the part of the author to reach an increasingly distant and uninterested audience. The Nietzsche who was almost completely ignored during the years before illness erased his intellect and deprived him of his sanity might have resorted to more and more strident and violent rhetoric in frustration over not being heard.

    • Nietzsche’s life would have been immeasurably improved if he had had a blog. Or several blogs. And sockpuppets; definitely, sockpuppets.

    • brad

      As a lifelong student of Nietzsche….. oy.
      Leiter isn’t talking about Nietzsche at all, he’s talking about himself.

      • brad

        And a very, very perfunctory look through reviews of that work make me cringe even moreso, I should have noticed the full title.

        Nietzsche’s views on morality are clear and dismissive. Attempts to incorporate him into the project of “moral philosophy” (scare quotes intentional), while interesting in genuinely capable hands, remind me of those who claim he was actually searching for path to faith in God.

        To use terms you’ll understand, Brian, since I know you’ll see this, you are part of the history of an error. And not even a useful one.

        • Anonymous

          Leiter is an asshole, but the book is pretty good. Saying N’s “views on morality are dismissive” does not mean N had no thoughts on the subject. He did in fact write books about it. Leiter gets a lot right in that book. Tho he’s still an asshole.

          • brad

            Fair enough, but anarchists write quite interesting examinations of government, as well, doesn’t mean they’re trying to fix it. I can’t speak to Leiter’s scholarship, if anything I’d assume it’s of high quality considering his position, but my problem is with what I’m presuming, based on what’s in truth insufficient evidence, the context he’s working in to be. He’s not going to write volumes about Nietzsche’s take on morality in order to argue that moral philosophy is a fundamentally flawed endeavor and they should all give up their day jobs.

            • gmack

              Well, it depends on what you take “moral philosophy” to be. Sure, if you take the job of the moral philosopher to determine the conditions under which one can say a norm is valid or to explain the moral point of view, then Nietzsche doesn’t have much sympathy (though–who knows?–he might be interested, as he clearly was interested in Kant). On the other hand, if you think moral philosophy is in part an effort to explain, say, the nature of the “moral ought” or its origins, then it seems at least part of Nietzsche’s work falls in that category. Granted, his approach is more radical and historically rooted than most people addressing those questions (hence his critique of the “English psychologists” in the Genealogy), but I don’t think the conclusion of his work is that moral philosophers ought to give up their day jobs.

              • brad

                Naturally I was being slightly glib, albeit true to my own biases.
                That said, I’m not arrogant enough to go around telling people they really should give up what they consider to be their life’s work. I agree with your gist, but I think it’s an open question, in a non-loaded sense, whether Nietzsche would have. It depends on whether their work still has utility, or if they’ve crossed over into necrophilia.

                • gmack

                  Agreed entirely.

        • brad

          Can’t sleep, been wandering the backwoods of this debate, and intellectual honesty demands that I admit that, having perused Leiter’s Nietzsche blog…. he genuinely knows what he’s talking about, his language shows a fluency in the material that can only come from real engagement with it.
          All the bigger shame, then, that he’s a bullying asshole.

          • brad

            Not that any of this matters to anyone but me, sorry to those whose eyeballs I am polluting with this narcissism, but he rec’d Maudemarie Clark’s main Nietzsche text as an introductory text.
            She is a distinguished scholar, and I left academia, but still; she is the wrongest wrong person who ever wrongly wronged the wrong way of wrongly reading the wrong Nietzsche. (Not counting those negatives to see if it adds up)
            Leiter is not stupid or falsely promoting his love for and scholarship in Nietzsche, but he may well be flat out wrong.

            • Anonymous

              ??? It’s a while since I read her book, but her reading of the will to power was a good one, and she does at least pay close attention to N’ s writing … Surely Heidegger is a better contender for that string of “wrongs”? Assuming we leave out Hitler as someone who, as Kaufmann said, never pursued his reading of N beyond the titles?

              • brad

                Well, yeah, Heidegger’s Nietzsche has nothing to do with Nietzsche, that’s pretty much a given, at least outside of older Germans, at this point.

                But some of us don’t agree the will to power was an actual…. proposal. She’s part of a tradition that, to me, reads Nietzsche as if he were a hypocrite.

    • Eric Rasmusen

      “It has gradually become clear to me what every great philosophy up till now has consisted of—namely, the confession of its originator, and a species of involuntary and unconscious auto-biography; and moreover that the moral (or immoral) purpose in every philosophy has constituted the true vital germ out of which the entire plant has always grown.”
      — Beyond Good and Evil

  • TWBB

    Brian Leiter has a serious problem; he’s been rabidly attacking people for years who have the temerity to disagree with him, with few professional repercussions, because honestly you can be a jerk in academia without much problem. Even the attack on the law graduate would be forgivable.

    However, these later revelations make him look ridiculously silly, particularly the fact that he was promoting himself in the third person using an anonymous account on a board for prospective students.

    Cruelty is, unfortunately, easily forgiven in professional circumstances but looking like a clown is much harder to live down, particularly at a school as concerned about its reputation as the University of Chicago.

    The fact that neither Paul, other bloggers, us JDUers, etc. have let the matter rest compounds his problems because the more this is talked about the more it creeps into any searches people do on him. At some point it will likely reach a point of critical mass (if it hasn’t already) and the administrators at UChicago are going to find out he’s made himself, and by extension the school, a target of ridicule.

    Why do you think Leiter himself has gotten so quiet on this issue lately (beyond likely posting under the alias “Stephen,” based on his repeated requests these blog posts come down and the writing style which is very close to Leiter’s)? He’s stuck in a trap. If he criticizes the hacking it will look like he admits it, if he responds to Paul that just makes the discourse more noticeable, there’s nothing he can really do except hope it blows over and it doesn’t look like it will do any of that soon.

    Even old targets of his rabid attacks, like Brad DeLong, are getting in on the fun, introducing to whole new demographics of readers.

  • KerFuFFler

    I have found this series of posts fascinating and entertaining (and I share your disdain for people who have not yet grasped the power of being able to scroll past posts that do not interest them). It is a beautiful thing when pompous hypocrites have their scurrilous pettiness exposed.

    BTW, I have also really been enjoying your archive on labor history! Teaching about such events in high school would sure wake people up——-no wonder this material is relatively neglected….

    • Western Dave

      I do teach about these events in HS. It doesn’t.

  • Pouca

    Given Leiter’s history it would be wise to conclude that one of the posters in this thread is in fact Leiter. I wonder who?

    • We are all Brian Leiter.

      • Jo

        I am not Brian Leiter. I am Spartacus.

        • I am Sockpuppetus, but I hear Spartacus is really awesome. Really!

      • Hogan

        I’m Brian Leiter, and so is my wife.

        • OmerosPeanut

          Damnit! Did legal gay marriage cause this?

  • Pingback: On “anonymity” - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money()

  • I am not Brian Leiter!

    • brad

      But are you Ann Althouse?

  • Anon

    Given the threatening (criminal?) nature of the emails “Peter Aduren” is sending people, there is no way that Leiter can admit to owning that account, especially now that those emails are beyond his control and can be shared. It seems like we have a lot of circumstantial evidence pointing to Leiter owning the account, but does anybody have real proof?

    • Pouca

      That turns on the level of evidence you want. This is not a criminal trial where Leiter can take the 5th and have no inference drawn. Leiter is a guy with a generally hair trigger reflex to post whenever anything disparaging about him appears. Here there is a strong circumstantial case that he is Aduren – which he has been suddenly too busy to respond to – although I have heard that he is busy working the phones trying to get things taken down. So he has not made a denial.

      Now I suspect, but I don’t know, that the individual who hacked the naduren g-mail account probably copied the in/out/deleted boxes, and Leiter was so vain that he keeps most anything. Thus, who knows, that hacker may have something really awful to disclose. We don’t know if this is the case, but Leiter certainly does. Consider the situation that puts Leiter in. What we are seeing is bad, but there may be worse.

      I’m not condoning the hack – but it has happened – and whatever that person found but did not publish was enough to ensure that they could tell it was Leiter. Leiter is not rebutting this I think, because there is an implicit threat based on what else Leiter knows to have been there. Given Leiter’s taste for implicit threats in his correspondence that it richly ironic.

      Indeed the irony is rather sublime – Leiter trolled using a pseudonym against pseudonymous posters, his pseudonymous account was hacked and now he is a ball of sweaty terror at what that hacking uncovered. I mean holy one track batcomputer mind batman (or should that be Holy disappearing act.)

    • Pouca

      That turns on the level of evidence you want. This is not a criminal trial where Leiter can take the 5th and have no inference drawn. Leiter is a guy with a generally hair trigger reflex to post whenever anything disparaging about him appears. Here there is a strong circumstantial case that he is Aduren – which he has been suddenly too busy to respond to – although I have heard that he is busy working the phones trying to get things taken down. So he has not made a denial.

      Now I suspect, but I don’t know, that the individual who hacked the naduren g-mail account probably copied the in/out/deleted boxes, and Leiter was so vain that he keeps most anything. Thus, who knows, that hacker may have something really awful to disclose. We don’t know if this is the case, but Leiter certainly does. Consider the situation that puts Leiter in. What we are seeing is bad, but there may be worse.

      I’m not condoning the hack – but it has happened – and whatever that person found but did not publish was enough to ensure that they could tell it was Leiter. Leiter is not rebutting this I think, because there is an implicit threat based on what else Leiter knows to have been there. Given Leiter’s taste for implicit threats in his correspondence that it richly ironic.

      Indeed the irony is rather sublime – Leiter trolled using a pseudonym against pseudonymous posters, his pseudonymous account was hacked and now he is a ball of sweaty terror at what that hacking uncovered. I mean holy one track batcomputer mind batman (or should that be Holy disappearing act.)

      • Anon

        Would it do any good at all to alert the University of Chicago Law School Dean to any of this? If our friend does have the kind of proof that you could make a screen shot of, he should send it. That’s what Leiter would do.

        Then again, I can’t imagine that the administration at Chicago doesn’t already know exactly what Leiter is all about it. I guess they’re fine with it, for whatever mysterious reason. As I’m learning, this kind of stuff from him isn’t exactly new.

        • Anon

          I know he said that the Peter Aduren account contained emails that were forwarded from Leiter’s Chicago address. Proof of that would be pretty damning.

          Not that the court of public opinion needs more proof. Leiter having written recently about “Neruda” is pretty much all the proof anybody needs. But if a case could somehow be made out of all this that could be presented to some authority and result in a real consequence for Leiter, that would be nice.

  • J
    • john

      He always makes the common mistake of overexplaining why he knows or cares so much about all things Leiter despite not knowing him other than through reputation.

      • TWBB

        Someone on top-law-schools.com has pointed out the outraged corrections to the Brian Leiter wikipedia page (excoriating attempts to “slander” Leiter) came from the University of Texas and University of Chicago as well.


        What I don’t understand is this. Leiter is apparently absolutely obsessed with his image; why, then, does he get in these screaming fights with anyone who disagrees with him? Does he think his vendettas somehow improve his reputation? Does he just really want to be feared?

    • Jo

      You left out the most interesting thing in that talk archive. In 2010 about half of it was deleted because of “BLP concerns” (“defamation” in wikispeak). Evidently Leiter moved from Austin to Chicago around then and the anonymous IP edits moved with him. Someone’s after Paul Campos in the deleted bits as well. It’s all still visible in the page history here:


  • No Middle Initial

    It takes one tenured nut to know another: Keith Burgess-Jackson had this story 4 years ago.

    • Anony

      What’s shocking to me – and I had never heard of KBJ before this comment – is how many parallels there are between the KBJ incident and the present one.

      From here: http://keithburgess-jackson.typepad.com/blog/2009/01/brian-leiter-academic-thug.html

      Instead of responding to the criticism, he attacks the critic personally, with the objective of destroying his or her reputation. (This is called “delegitimization”; it is Leiter’s modus operandi.)

      Notice the sheer viciousness of his treatment of a prominent philosopher, whose only “crime” was to criticize Leiter’s rankings of graduate programs. Notice the self-delusion, the portrayal of himself as a victim (that one takes the cake), and the projection.

      Ultimately, the best way to deal with Leiter is to make fun of him. He is a buffoon.

      One of the funny things about Leiter is that he repeats what I say, sometimes using the very words I use. When I say, for example, that he tries to destroy people’s careers, he replies that I do the same thing. This is a flagrant tu quoque (“you too”) fallacy. Even if it were true that I do what he does, it doesn’t follow that what he does is acceptable; what follows is that both of us do the same unacceptable thing. So when Leiter commits this fallacy, he is, besides demonstrating his inability to reason correctly, inculpating himself! In fact, I haven’t tried to destroy anyone’s career. That is merely Leiter’s self-interested distortion of what occurred.

      Incidentally, I now know who sent the anonymous e-mail to me a couple of weeks ago: the one with the fictitious address [email protected]. It was Leiter. I won’t go into details, but the only person who knows the things said in the message is Leiter. Think about it. Leiter, who claims to have a “real life” and a “real job,” and who says that he doesn’t have time to spend all day blogging (but who maintains several blogs), has time to send anonymous e-mail messages to people he hates, to post trackbacks on blogs where he is criticized, to instigate attacks by his sycophants, and, worst of all, to do things like this. Can you say “creepy”?

      What do people who read both Leiter’s posts about me and mine about him think? (Leiter has written more words about me than I have about him. Keep that in mind if you’re trying to determine which of us is obsessed with the other.) Leiter would have you believe that he is a normal, decent human being, whereas I am a crazy man with a vendetta. I, by contrast, would have you believe that Leiter is a megalomaniacal thug, whereas I am a normal, decent human being (albeit one who has pissed off his share of people). There are three classes: (1) Those who are disposed to like Leiter (or to dislike me). These people are going to believe Leiter, even if there is no evidence to justify such a belief. (2) Those who are disposed to like me (or to dislike Leiter). These people are going to believe me, even if there is no evidence to justify such a belief. But what about the third class of people, namely, (3) those who are not disposed either way (perhaps because they have never heard of either of us)? What will they believe, and on what basis? What should they believe? May I make a suggestion? You (if you’re one of these people) have seen the long list of people Leiter has abused; you have seen what he said about them and did to them (if you haven’t, take the time to do so before forming an opinion); you have seen what others, including Leiter’s professional colleagues, say about him. I didn’t make this stuff up. It’s out there, on the Internet, accessible to everyone. Most of what Leiter has said about me, by contrast, has come to him privately and is posted by him anonymously. (The people who hide behind a cloak of anonymity are cowards, plain and simple; but academia is filled with cowards. Indeed, it attracts cowards.)

  • CaptBackslap

    I wonder how many Lulu profiles he has.

  • If being able to guess that the password of a sock-puppet’s email account might be the email name backwards counts as “hacking,” I should be editing 2600–or running MSFT.

  • MkDel

    Leiter’s slow-motion car crash actually has me somewhat bummed. He always seemed like an asshole, but til lately he was assholish, it seemed to me, to all the right people. An articulate leftist has made himself ridiculous; that’s too bad.

  • PhiloTura

    I’m a huge fan of Leiter, been reading him since he was at UT almost ten years ago. (Full disclosure: I’m a philosophy grad student.) I watch the goings-on and have to scratch my head. The people who hate him the most are all in their thirties and early forties. There’s this awful suck-up named Paul Campos–his “writing” is sweaty with panting obsequious ambition–who keeps distorting everything Leiter writes–the only way this no-talent can get him. And I ask myself: why is it the middle-aged guys who go after Leiter? Must be because he writes the way middle-aged guys should be writing: angry, independent, not afraid of offending powerful people. They on the other hand write like aging careerists: timid, ingratiating, careful not to offend people who are powerful. They hate him because they want to write like him but can’t. Maybe if they’d let themselves go and write truthfully, they’d get Robert Zimmer to notice them too.

    • Hogan

      I wish I had four hands so I could give you four thumbs up.

    • Malaclypse

      Yes, yes, you know him only by reputation.

    • I say Campos is insolent. Who’s with me?

    • gmack

      First: Win.

      Second: At what level of meta would we be if this were Leiter?

      • Malaclypse


        • Hogan

          Google “panting obsequious ambition.”

          • Jo

            We’re really through the looking glass now.

        • oldster


        • spencer

          It’s the “Tura” at the end of the handle that gives the game away.

    • calling all toasters

      …and Poe’s Law raises its ever-annoying head.

    • Mr. Guy

      Ha. Haha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. ONE SECOND. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA. Regardless of who you are, what does it say about your life that you spent a minute of it writing this?

      • sprezzatura

        Check the username again…

        You couldn’t tie Leiter’s shoelaces. Every young lawye in NYC has it in for poor Leiter it seems. They all write like middle-aged hacks. He has the fire and guts of a young man (I assume he’s middle-aged himself, or somewhere near there.) Who am I? Someone who knows who you are.

    • Jewish Steel

      Is this the guy that did the Romney post a while back? Fucking genius.

  • visiting prof

    Leiter has always been irredeemable, but now Filler is dead to me. Unconscionable. Rotten. Unethical.

    The rottenness of Filler is not erased because someone subsequently hacked Leiter’s sockpuppet.

    The rottenness of Filler is not erased because some people don’t like Paul Campos.

    The rottenness of Filler sits there and will follow him.

    (I suppose Filler could “go on Oprah,” come clean and deeply apologize. Not likely for someone who hangs around Brian Leiter. It would take too much self-reflection and integrity.)

  • Pouca

    On Dan Filler – consider the mess. Leiter could be found committing beastiality with the Dean of Chicago’s poodle having decapitated the pet cat and he probably would not lose tenure – people in Hynde Park would just hide their pets when he walked by (and hell never meet Bo) – while Chicago’s law school is unlikely to close or even have any layoffs of tenured faculty.

    On the other hand Drexel is a bottom ranking school in a massively overpopulated legal market, i.e., Philly. If I was to rank the to 10-20 law schools likely to close or be the loser in a merger in the next 2-5 years, Drexel would be my number one choice in Philly. And where does that leave Dapper Dan after this trainwreck – every junior prof, every VAP, every free speech maven at every law school he applies to is a quick google search away from saying “hell no!”

    And Dapper Dan though Leiter was his friend – Leiter has totally screwed him. The smart thing for Dapper Dan would be to deal with this, but time is all but run out.

    • Origami Isopod

      Leiter could be found committing beastiality with the Dean of Chicago’s poodle having decapitated the pet cat and he probably would not lose tenure

      …but Filler’s the one who screwed the pooch.

  • Who’d by

    A few days ago Leiter posted about an email he’d received. He named the person, the law school from which he graduated, and, after noting that the person didn’t appear on his (purported) law firms website, he wrote the law firm partners to inform them.

    Mind you this was a private, albeit snippy, private email…not a public posting somewhere.

    That is a bit scary.

    And it’s a shame, too, because Leiter is right about some things—such as David Bernstein and the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    • Who’d by

      Oops… Just saw that Campos posted about this previously.

  • sriracha214

    PhilaTura is just off of the old Sprezzatura sock puppetry.

  • Anon

    This is all so fascinating. In the last 24 hours I’ve read the auto-admit story, the Keith Burgess Jackson story, and the edit history of Leiter’s wikipedia page.

    I don’t know if sociopath is accurate, but there is definitely something wrong with this guy above and beyond being a mere asshole. Unfortunately, I don’t think this latest attempt to shame him will have much effect, as he appears to be shameless. He is obsessed with his online reputation, and yet he’s completely ruined his online reputation over the years accumulating stories like this. When I search his name on google, all of these stories appear on the front page.

    He is obsessed with outing anonymous internet enemies, and yet he appears to engage in an enormous amount of anonymous activity himself, often promoting himself while pretending to be a third party (such as with wikipedia, that link is truly amazing).

    My question for the legal and philosophy academies is why a person like this would carry any weight at all. Is it that his online antics are still largely unknown? Do people genuinely fear him? Has he actually been able to ruin careers?

    • brad

      I can’t even snark at you, you’re lucky you don’t understand how full of mini-Leiters academia in general is. The sad truth is he’s more a slightly overdeveloped case that random chance dragged into the light than an aberration.

      I’m not slagging academics, just to be clear. But just about every department in every school in the land has “that guy”, and usually they are guys.

      • spencer

        We had three in the last department I was in. Suffice it to say, the department itself was nearly destroyed because of them, and is unquestionably much much weaker than it was when I got there due solely to their presence and antics.

        Academia can be a really fucked up place sometimes.

  • Manta

    I did not like the previous posts on the topic not because of the content but because the writing was horrible: I had difficulties understanding who did what.

    This one, however, is much better (but still needs proofreading
    “The purpose of this lie was obviously to try to trap the lawyer into making what Leiter was, given the information he already possessed, certain would be a false statement”).

    • Totally not Brian Leiter

      Shame on Campos – I suggest the only appropriate response to these typos is for the administrators to delete the relevant post forthwith.

  • Anon

    Well, Leiter has now responded. He is denying that the Peter Aduren email account belongs to him. I suppose that is the only move he could make.

    I think Paul should create one final installment of this series compiling the evidence that Peter Aduren is Brian Leiter. Because we do have evidence that Peter Aduren is a cyber stalker. His emails are available for people to see. Now we just need to show that he is Brian Leiter.

    • Anon-anon-anon

      Where is the response?

      • Anon

        One of his blogs. As an update to his post about the insolent email he received. He basically says that Campos is making all of this up.

        • wes

          No. Go back and read it slowly, precisely. He throws out some overbroad claims and denies those. But he does not deny lots of the core facts.

    • john

      About the only thing you could arguably say he clearly denies is being PhiloStudent on TLS. For everything else, he intentionally speaks in a way that might seem to imply a denial of it all, but that doesn’t actually do so.

      It depends on what the meaning of “is” is, and all that nonsense.

      I guess there is a bright side in all of this for Leiter: he clearly can think, and act, like a lawyer.

  • Anon-anon-anon

    Found it. He doesn’t actually deny that the Aduren gmail account was his. Read his words carefully.

    • yutty


      Read the whole thing carefully to see what is and isn’t denied. Did he deny Aduren? Did he deny sending emails to dybbuk and BLRT? Did he deny sending anonymous emails? Did he deny using sock puppets to discuss himself? Did he deny that FL sent him any IP addresses or emails? (He comes close to denying that he received dybbuk’s information from FL but doesn’t fully foreclose that possibility.)

      • Anonymous

        “And he has apparently inspired one of his followers to hack someone`s email account.”

        Read in context, this can only be understood as a claim that Leiter isn’t paduren.

        • yutty

          Can’t agree with that. Suppose a boy hits me in the head with a snowball as a prank. Can I say, “The boy has hit someone’s head with a snowball”? Yes.

          • Malaclypse

            While you perhaps can, you never would, presuming you are a normal user of language. Are you instead a robot, or perhaps a character in Mark Trail?

            • yutty

              You are not thinking like a lawyer needs to think when pinning down a witness.

              Statement 1: “And [Campos] has apparently inspired one of his followers to hack someone`s email account.”

              Statement 2: The Aduren email account belonged to Leiter.

              Does Statement 1 make Statement 2 impossible? It doesn’t.

            • spencer

              or perhaps a character in Mark Trail?

              Are you also a regular reader of The Comics Curmudgeon?

              • Malaclypse

                I did kind of make that obvious, I suppose.

            • spencer

              While you perhaps can, you never would, presuming you are a normal user of language.

              But that’s exactly it. Lawyers are not normal users of language. You and I use language to communicate. Lawyers often use it for other purposes, including obfuscation and shit-flinging.

              • john

                “But that’s exactly it. Lawyers are not normal users of language.”


                He made it seem like he denied a lot, but he in fact denied very little.

        • Rob in Buffalo

          I agree with yutty. That is not an express denial that Leiter is Aduren, and I’m not sure it’s even an implied denial. And since we’re discussing what people would normally do, if that email isn’t Leiter’s, why wouldn’t he make a strong, express denial? I sure would.

          • Just sayin’

            If he agrees that an email has, apparently, been hacked (which is based on an anonymous commenter’s statement). Wouldn’t there be an implicit acknowledgment that the commenter’s other statement that the email was Leiter’s is also true?

  • Anon

    Has the person who hacked the paduren email considered wikileaks?

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  • Anon
  • A Lawyer From Abroad

    All this so-called evidence against Leiter is really trashy, circumstancial at best. Oh yeah, the guy blogged about Neruda, that makes him the owner of the aduren mail account. Wow. Because PhiloStudent quotes Leiter (so do other threads on the same forum, by the way), PhiloStudent is Leiter. Wow again. So I guess anyone quoting Leiter on the cybersphere is Leiter himself.

    And so on.

    Thank god you are not a prosecuting attorney, you would not get many bad guys convicted.

    Whatever the feud between you and Leiter is about, this is not serious.

    PS I am not Brian Leiter, I am not even an American. Hence the poor English.

    • Malaclypse

      Briem Leiter is the bestest, kindest, most smartest person on the intarwebs.

      • A Lawyer From Abroad

        I never said that. I am just commenting on the poor evidence offered by Paul Campos to back his allegations.

        This whole little fight is very funny to watch, but quite childish, on both parts.

        • Paul Campos

          You don’t even begin to understand the evidence, which is so overwhelming that Leiter didn’t even deny he was aduren in his mendacious response to the various accusations levied against him.

          • A Lawyer From Abroad

            1) Leiter did indeed deny the allegations you made (I quote Leiter : “accusing me, FALSELY, of, inter alia, cyber-stalking” sounds like a denial -emphasis added).

            2) Even if he had not denied it, it would not make the allegations true. The onus of proof is yours, and, as far as I can see it, you have not made it. What is exactly the concrete, tangible link between Leiter and aduren ? Meybe Leiter IS aduren after all, but there is not one piece of evience to back the claim.

            3) I may disagree with Leiter on a lot of things. His attacks towards you were close to being ad hominems sometimes. But he always attacked your ideas, never your personal integrity. The charges you bring against him are really serious. You should consider that smearing the reputation of a man just because he does not like you is not worthy of a decent human being.

            4) I do not know much of your scholarly work, but I must say you “Three mistakes” paper is quite interesting.

  • p jones

    This seems to have become the consensus defence of Leiter: a) take a subset of the current evidence (and even that incomplete and out of context) and assert that it’s inconclusive, b) claim that Campos is unhinged, obsessed or petty, and then c) totally ignore the fact that this is about a powerful academic cyberstalking his critics, not just trolling and sock-puppetry.

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  • Ornello

    I barely know Leiter (I have had some limited correspondence with him about Nietzsche), but his egotistical attitude is beyond belief.

  • Cretan

    I recently learned that the person posting pseudonymously on the ABA J blog (and who gratuitously subjected me, and my parentage, to gratuitous personal attack for disagreeing that Marxism is good – I am paraphrasing), is none other than one Professor Brian Leitner – whom I had never heard of until that moment.

    Still pissed about the unprovoked broadside though I decided to email the good professor to express my extreme irritation along with the speculation that someday, perhaps 10 or 20 years from now, we might run into each other.

    Apparently taken aback, Leitner’s first line of defense was denial.

    Leitner stated categorically by email dated September 11, 2014:

    “I do not post under the pseudonym “Pushkin” at the ABA Journal blog; I actually do not post under any pseudonyms.”

    Leitner then asked me to “clarify” whether my email was a “threat”.

    I demurred to Leitner’s request for clarification, instead enumerating some of the “reasons that I don’t believe you” complete with hyperlinks to his better known baboonery, embroilment, and use of the pseudonym “Pushkin” and one other – as well as a related email address.

    The good professor at that point advised that he had retained counsel to initiate a legal proceeding against me (which counsel, curiously, specializes in “art sales”, is located in NYC, and is not even licensed in Illinois, the presumed venue for the threatened legal action), had requested the “campus police” to investigate me, including running a “criminal background check” on the undersigned, as well as making “a formal complaint” to the State Bar of California. (I emailed him a pdf copy of the relevant Complaint Form for ready reference along with my “good luck” wishes.)

    Clearly, the man goes ballistic at the slightest provocation, and I gave him more provocation than say the baby lawyer from Nevada he lambasted on his blog for having the cheek to send the great man a one-line “insolent” email questioning what he knows about lawyering, since he has never been one.

    At this point if anyone has any actual proof, as opposed to hearsay, that Leitner has indeed posted pseudonymously I would be grateful to receive it.

    You any reach me at the Gmail address listed on my profile page: http://www.linkedin.com/in/stephengianelli/

    Thank you for your consideration.

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