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Pathological liars


I have one sort of not awful thing to say about Brian Leiter: he’s got what his favorite poet would call cojones.

Let’s review here, for those of you who just can’t get enough of this sordid little saga:

After getting caught red-handed engaging in cyber-harassment of a few basically harmless and mostly anonymous critics — harassment which was apparently made possible by his co-blogger Dan Filler sharing confidential email information from comments at Filler’s other blog, The Faculty Lounge, Leiter let loose with a classic bit of pseudo-lawyerly obfuscation:

I underestimated the extent to which [Campos] would turn into a pathological liar in order to seek his vengeance. Over the last week (I have been abroad at a conference, with only intermittent internet access and so may not even have seen everything), Campos has completely lost it, descending into an amazing paranoid abyss of libel, accusing me, falsely, of, inter alia, cyber-stalking, posting pseudonymously on “Top Law Schools,” even posting “hundreds” (!) of comments on his absurd blog (while the others may just be reckless false allegations, the last one he has to know is false, since he has access to the ISP information), and so on. He has not, at least of this writing, accused me of genocide or torturing puppies. And he has apparently inspired one of his followers to hack someone`s email account. Classy!

What does Leiter’s “denial” fail to do? If you said “actually deny (with one exception) any of the accusations made against him,” you may want to sign up for the LSAT right away, or maybe a philosophy graduate program with a heavily analytical component. Now there’s a very simple explanation as to why Leiter doesn’t deploy simple English language statements such as “the email account [email protected] isn’t mine,” and “I didn’t get any confidential email addresses from Dan Filler’s blog.” And that explanation is that those statements would be completely unambiguous lies. (His claim that I accused him of posting hundreds of times on ITLSS is also a lie, but the kind of lie that’s fairly easy to walk back, since my suggestion that a lot of comments on the blog sounded like him could be twisted into a false claim that I knew he posted there.)

So what we have here, ironically enough, is a perfect example of deeply misleading statements of the sort that have been central to the misbehavior of law schools in recent years. With one exception, Leiter isn’t “lying” in this denial: he’s just telling the “truth” in an utterly misleading way — kind of like a law school advertising that its graduates have a median starting salary of $120,000, without mentioning that this figure doesn’t include the salaries, if any, of 90% of its graduates. He doesn’t say he isn’t Peter Aduren, internet cyberstalker of Dybbuk and MacK and BLRT, and who knows who else — he merely implies it so strongly that only a wary reader will notice that he isn’t denying this. After all, Brian Leiter is someone! (It doesn’t matter much to me).

The one exception here is that Leiter does deny his sock puppetry on Top Law Schools: a claim which is completely inconsistent with the fact that “PhiloStudent” registered at TLS using the [email protected] address. My guess is that Leiter can’t resist indulging in this one flat-out no hold barred falsehood because Philostudent’s posts are so humiliating to him — not just because sock puppetry is pathetic even by Leiter’s utterly degraded standards of conduct, but because Leiter said some pretty nasty things about some Very Important Philosophers, and he doesn’t want these particular nasty things attributed to him.

It’s also telling that Leiter, whose usual rhetorical strategy could be described as Maximum Frontal Assault, especially when it comes to any criticisms of the “the most powerful man in academic philosophy” (this description is from Leiter’s wiki page, which aspiring Philosophers on the Make could use as veritable template for their own experiments in autobiographical onanism), buried his “denial” in an update of a nearly week-old post on his blog, instead of giving his refutation of the supposed libels against him the publicity which one would suppose the most powerful man in academic philosophy would want them to have.

But this is all sophistry: Leiter’s non-denial denial is completely dishonest from top to bottom. The evidence is overwhelming that he in fact did every single thing I accused him of doing (and let’s not forget the role of his errand boy Dan Filler in all this, who can’t even manage to even get to denial, but is apparently too cowardly to confess to his role in this squalid business). If there was any doubt that Leiter sent creepy emails from the paduren account to people whose addresses he filched from TFL with the help of Filler, as part of a campaign to intimidate anonymous critics by threatening to out them with their employers and others, their mutual failure to actually deny this removes any such doubt.

. . . a commenter suggests that people who have been cyber-stalked by Leiter note this in the comments to this thread.

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  • brad

    Strictly playing the devil’s advocate, and knowing how petty academic despots like this will have their toadies, it is possible PhiloStudent is just one of his grad students working to get their rec letter upgraded

    Oh wait, with that same email? Never mind.

    The saddest part is I really don’t think outing him will change much, not for Leiter, at least. Philosophy academics, who are the only portion of his context I can really speak to, will mostly try to ignore this out of what they’ll consider professional indifference to the personal failings of an otherwise qualified scholar. And a small but significant percent won’t see his behavior as a bug at all, but rather a feature, because they’re the same kind of asshole, and they’re the ones most likely to have authority.

    • Jon

      The way these things seem to work is you get one mulligan. The first person gets dismissed as “shrill” and you get the benefit of the doubt. But I think Leiter has burned his mulligan. The next person he harasses, harms career wise, or tries to bigtime, and I think the foundation exists for a story with serious legs. (Assuming this is all true, which I have personal knowledge of.)

      I’m sure messing with visiting assistant professors and philosophers doesn’t really have many consequences. But there are a lot of lawyers who will burn his fucking house down to prove a point even if they lose in doing so. If you’ve ever sued a lawyer as a party, you know this.

      That’s why I don’t get too worried by all of this, and neither should Campos. If this is really how Leiter is, there is just no stopping him from ending up in a world of shit even if you don’t achieve it personally.

      • Jon

        * which I have **NO** personal knowledge of.

        • Brian Leiter

          Too late. You’re on the list, asshole.

          • Jon

            Good, I could use the media attention. No such thing as bad publicity. My IP address is Bring it.

            Anyway, that comment about the “mulligan” has to be one of the least informed things I’ve written, ever. Apparently this is an ongoing thing, and everyone knows about it. Seems that he has reserved his poo flinging for such worthies as instapud, and other wingers.

            • Not At All Brian Leiter

              I have reason to think that that was not Brian Leiter. For one thing, whoever it was used at least 200 fewer words than the real Brian Leiter would have used to convey that message. There are other reasons as well.

              • Jon

                Damn, I wanted to learn how to think like a lawyer.

      • brad

        Except Leiter, pompous self-fluffing on wikipedia aside, actually does have real authority and standing in philosophical academia. His program rankings, which are a frankly stupid concept in philosophy to begin with, but that’s a separate issue, were there first and remain the only real clearinghouse of info on programs in the US. There’s major failings with how he ranks, seems to privilege analytic trendiness and direct connection with Leiter’s past and present, but I knew of them as a prospective student long ago, long before learning about Leiter here.
        And they’re an excellent tool to build a network with. Get the support of the right people and it doesn’t matter how much of an asshole you are, or how little you contribute to genuine development of the material with your work provided the scholarship is up to par and you keep pumping it out.

        • Jon

          actually does have real authority and standing in philosophical academia.

          And that is an issue, but, read that quote. That is just about as close to a zero fucks given situation as I can think of other than for some graduate students and some non-tenured professors.

          He seems like a jerk, but academia is filled with this kind of crap and every discipline has its own issues. And I reiterate that while academics do this kind of shit all the time, eventually, if he keeps doing this to people like our friend in Las Vegas, he’s going to find out how lawyers think.

          • brad

            His standing in philosophical academia gives him power to directly affect people’s lives. He’s not just tenured, he chairs an entire cross disciplinary program, from what I see. Small kingdom, no doubt, but the people are real.

            And despite his ample failings, he doesn’t seem stupid enough to do anything that would open him to actual legal action, so “finding out how lawyers think” might just be a zero fucks given situation to him.

            • Anon

              A number of us in the philosophical community are praying this knocks Leiter off his perch. No person should have so much power over an academic discipline, much less a person with Leiter’s character.

              If the APA didn’t suck so badly, it could take over the rankings.

              • Ed K

                Or we could just grant that ‘rankings’ in a highly pluralistic, multi-valent discipline are inevitably biased and sheer bullshit; and make sure that programs compile good data on things like placement, keep up to date lists of their faculty,etc., and make them easily available to aid prospective graduate students in making informed choices.

                • Spokane Moderate

                  That’s crazy-talk!

        • anonymous

          I’d just like to point out that, though Leiter is in some sense the editor of the rankings at this point, he himself does not rank the departments. The programs are ranked on the basis of surveys of a very large number of philosophers, chosen, not by Leiter, but by an advisory board. (This isn’t to deny that the rankings only capture a slice of philosophical opinion on program quality; but that slice is wider than just Leiter’s opinion.)

  • Phoenix_rising

    …telling the “truth” in an utterly misleading way — kind of like a law school advertising that its graduates have a median starting salary of $120,000, without mentioning that this figure doesn’t include the salaries, if any, of 90% of its graduates.

    As it turns out, I *can* get enough. And this was it.

    To the extent that this sordid festival of folly is connected to an important truth, job well done. But job done…please.

  • Frank

    Oh god. Shut the fuck up. You fucking petty mediocrities are better duking this out in private.

    • Feed the trolls, and they’ll keep coming back?

    • Warren Terra

      It really is unforgivable that you should be inexorably compelled to read something that doesn’t interest you. Is there no alternative, no conceivable means of escape? It must be sheer torture!

      • Anonymous

        I imagine that somewhere Frank is tied to a chair, eyeballs pelled open Clockwork Orange style, forced to read LGM until he’s completely incapable of even hearing the word “law school” without collapsing into a heap.

        • Woodrowfan

          Frank just wants the full value for what he paid to read this blog, oh, wait.

        • Warren Terra

          Plus, they’re ruining Beethoven for him.

      • Decrease Mather

        It really is unforgivable that you should be inexorably compelled to read something that doesn’t interest you. Is there no alternative, no conceivable means of escape? It must be sheer torture!

        This same reasoning can be applied to, say, the Oscar telecast.

        • Origami Isopod

          Except there’s a difference between critiquing a longstanding cultural institution for misogyny and racism… and whining that some blogger is covering an issue that (while important) doesn’t interest one at all.

    • Calming Influence

      But Frank, if they did it in private we’d miss your adroit repartee!

      • Calming Influence

        (I’m particularly taken with “Oh god. Shut the fuck up.” Such style! Such wit! A regular Oscar F. Wilde.)

  • poco

    [Leiter] buried his “denial” in an update of a nearly week-old post on his blog, instead of giving his refutation of the supposed libels against him the publicity which one would suppose the most powerful man in academic philosophy would want them to have.

    I think this is really telling, especially given the attention this issue is getting.

    Keep up the good work, Paul.

  • Jon

    As a lawyer, I suggest you simply resolve this the uncivilized way: sue him for declaratory relief. He has alleged that you libeled him. If he doesn’t sue you, then there is still an apparent controversy.

    So, get him to either retract his claim you libeled him, sue you for it, or sue him for declaratory relief that that’s not the case.

    Then you can get people to testify to all of this crap under oath.

    • Calming Influence

      Hey, I for one would be happy to chip in for expenses, just for the lulz. Maybe we could get a little LGM PayPal bake sale rolling…?

      • Loud Liberal

        Ah, the calming influence of financing conflict. Carry on!

        • Calming Influence

          Hey, far be it from me to ever try to stir things up [wink/cross fingers]. I’m just thinking that having to deal with a bit of litigation on the defensive might just calm Leiter’s sorry ass down…

  • I propose the Leiter be referred to not as a law professor, but as a “philosophy professor of law.”

    Also acceptable, “douchenozzle.”

    • Shakezula

      I myself favor fucktoad.

  • Bob

    If you have been cyber-stalked by Leiter post here with a distinct handle – it does not have to be the one you were stalked with (Bob is not). I am willing to say I have been. Let’s see how many people there are?

    • Orrin Porter Rockwell

      I am a member of this group.

      • Bob

        Sorry, also note if you are not one of the handles that Campos mentioned in his post and did you post on the faculty lounge?

    • ChrisTS

      Not stalked but sent an email that demanded how a full prof of philosophy could say whatever it was I said about some of his cyber-conduct.

      I will say, that because I responded calmly, he seemed appeased.

      • ChrisTS

        Bah. Mad commas.

      • Bob

        Were you posting with your own name or a pseudonym?

        • ChrisTS

          Same as here. But, really, I think he read a lot of my other posts there (VC) and figured it out. Another poster did, as well – although she emailed me for pleasant reasons. Still creepy, in my opinion, to track down someone and demand they explain why they made an unflattering comment about one.

    • Brianleitersrottingteeth

      I received threatening emails from the Peter Aduren email account, as I described in part 1 of Paul’s series.

      I had invented the handle (and the email that goes with it) on a thursday, used it a few times that day, and by friday night I was being threatened by Peter Aduren. I used it on the faculty lounge blog as well as this blog, Volokh, and ITLSS. I suspect that it was faculty lounge who fed Peter Aduren my email address because they also deleted my comments while those other sites did not. Paul Campos has additional reason to believe it was faculty lounge based on some other stories he’s heard in the last week, but I don’t know anything about those.

      • Anonymous

        You are not Dybbuk, MacK or Orrin Porter Rockwell

        • Brianleitersrottingteeth

          I am not them. What’s more, they are obviously more sympathetic characters than I am. In using this name, I am just a troll. I know that.

          But troll or not, Peter Aduren obtained my email and IP and I certainly never gave it to him. So I think my story is important to the extent that it helps bolster the case against faculty lounge, who have apparantly done the same thing to better people.

          • xavier

            I stopped posting on TFL just for this reason, despite seeing plenty of (non-Leiter-related) stories I actually would have liked to discuss. They are not trustworthy.

    • Anonymous

      This is important – getting a full list of stalkees with details – Leiter’s own UC email, aduren, others will build the case. Spread the word – it is time to do a survey

  • Bob

    And when you do so, note what forums you posted on – prawfsblawg, faculty lounge, etc.

  • I think zese series of posts somewhat prove that my famous quote on ze Academia has a certain validity, no?

    • Pooh

      This thought has occurred to me, but its inapt given that the stakes are actually pretty high if you consider the underlying issue is the mountain of student loan debt which law students are taking on under what Campos argues are fraudulent inducements.

      • ChrisTS

        And, also, that in philosophy some real chilling effects are possible.

  • Anonymous

    Question for the Olds who didn’t grow up with the interwebz (because I trust their objectivity a bit more here, and I lack that objectivity being a Young): what’s the ethics of a blogowner or administrator contacting commenters who employ pseudonyms or comment (without registering, but using a legitimate e-mail address) as anonymeece? I’ve had that happen to me more than once: I’ll post a dissenting comment, nothing rude or profane, the comment will be moderated, and the OP will contact me through the e-mail address I used when commenting, usually to continue the conversation privately. I’ve always found this highly objectionable and I ask them to stop e-mailing me (with the option that the conversation can continue in the public forum).

    Is this practice kosher, or is it slightly “shady”?

    • Bob

      Tricky – he/she knows you wanted to be anonymous so unless there was a good reason (defamation, suicidal comments, threats to persons) it is not really appropriate to go into the information – e.g., IP Addresses, e-mails. The purpose of those is to stop outright spamming, not to police comments. If someone is a very disruptive poster, i.e., posts drunk, etc. then the IP Address can be used to block a poster, but it is bad form to use it to turn your blog into a cheering chorus of people who only agree with you – a la prawfsblawg.

    • I can’t see anything in the least objectionable about a blogowner or administrator contacting commenters who employ pseudonyms or comment (without registering, but using a legitimate e-mail address) as anonymeece, per se. Of course some such contacts might, by the nature of their content, constitute behavior that the contactee finds objectionable, and persistence in such behavior after being notified of its objectionable nature might rise to being unethical (or trayf, if you prefer); even the fact of contact at all might be (as you suggest it is for you) objectionable, and then I would say that any further contact might equally rise ot be unethical/trayf. Also, some other uses (besides sending e-mail to it) of the legitimate e-mail address—in particular, turning it over to a third party (who would not otherwise have been able to obtain it)—are certainly unethical by my standards.

      But I really don’t think that there is any single widely accepted ethical standard here, so my standards are no than my standards. Even though I am an Old.

      • Anonymous

        Thank you to Lee Rudolph and Bob for the responses. I’d like to hear more.

        Additional information:

        I’m a woman, any pseudonym I’ve used is female-coded or I use my first name (which among Anglophones is normally reserved for women), my e-mail address contains my surname, and the moderated comments are posted in STEM- and skeptic-oriented blogs.

        I suppose I object to the e-mailing as a practice because it makes little sense (blog posts accepting comments tend to attract conversation*, and on-going conversation can’t be had if part of it is shuttered away privately because the OP is uncomfortable with dissent**) and because it generally feels, in my experience, a bit like politely-worded intimidation***.

        *in the instances I’m speaking of, the thread below post was plenty full and already contentious before my contributions.
        **comments removed / edited / moderated were never disclosed as such, which again gives on-lookers a false perception of the conversation as a whole
        ***normally a re-hash of the OP’s original argument, but overly laden with what can fairly be described as mansplanations or unrelated technical nit-picking, usually intended to conceal bad science or poor logic

        • Anonymous

          I bring up the woman and the surname-in-email-address thing not to suggest that I’m being unfairly targeted, but, with the exception of JenBob, trolls tend to use women’s names sparingly* (often to rile feminists or make some irritating misogynist quip or pun) and fake or jokes e-mail addresses rarely look that way. I should think.

          My point being, I wasn’t being mistaken for or being chastised as a troll.

          *a bit of internalized misogyny on the part of female trolls, I think, whom I imagine constitute half of all trolls despite what dudes tend to believe

          • Malaclypse

            *a bit of internalized misogyny on the part of female trolls, I think, whom I imagine constitute half of all trolls despite what dudes tend to believe

            Asking this as a genuine question, really? Because I read trolls, and the fact that they all have serious issues around any and all gender/sexuality topics, screams out to me “frustrated dude.” Am I wrong? lapsing into gender essentialism? I’ve never seen a female act this way in real life, but I’ve seen lots of dudes do it.

            Also, side issue: presuming you are the Anonymous I think you are: please adopt a handle. You have cool insights, but always being simply one of many anonymouses makes it hard for me, at least, who has enough trouble following who is who. Please at least think about it.

            • Jo

              I’ve never seen a female act this way in real life, but I’ve seen lots of dudes do it.

              Have you known many females then? I’ve seen plenty of women act every which way I’ve seen men act. The main difference is that women, on average, have marginally better personal hygiene. All other differences can be explained by confirmation bias.

            • Anonymous

              Well, as in in any other public space, women tend to be invisible or erased until they are scrutinized, forced into uncomfortable spotlights, and Othered, so it’s always difficult to parse gender and sex some of the time when internet decorum, or lack thereof, necessitates passing as a man in order (as they say) to get a word in edgewise.

              I think it’s probably true that men account for disproportionately high numbers of trolls in certain regions of the internet, especially where homosociality is the norm–that is, they troll male-only joints like sub-reddits for boobie pictures because doing so is a lark and a rite of passage and they troll female-only joints like radfem blogs because they’re angry that Girls Stole Their Interwebs.

              But women can be just as right-wing, wonkish, and (colloq.) paranoid as men, be just as uninformed, loud, and self-righteous, just as rude and bloody-minded, just as callous a bully, just as sanctimonious, as convinced of their own righteousness, just as silly, just as dumb, just as eager to play the jester and score an occasional FTW or +1. And not all them belong to the small demographic of women (white, western, young) who long to be accepted as Chill Girls and who, therefore, “advertise” themselves as female.

              I write “advertise,” but it’s, again, a very unfair double-standard. Use a female-coded pseudonym or your own (female-coded) name, and you can very easily be accused of seeking attention, disrupting the conversation, or being another dunder-headed “girl” whose contributions are either unwanted or unappreciated. Even anti-feminist misogynist women who’ve grown up in this culture know, perhaps only subconsciously, that they sometimes have to be men, or face dire consequences (Schrodinger’s Cyber-Douche, I call it).

              I understand about the Anonymous, and I’ll think about what you’ve written re selecting a ‘nym here. Thanks.

            • Origami Isopod

              What Jo and especially Anonymous said. There are lots of female trolls. I’ll add that political trolling isn’t limited to right wingers (I’ve known a few people who trolled St0rmfr0nt).

    • I can’t see anything in the least objectionable about a blogowner or administrator contacting commenters who employ pseudonyms or comment (without registering, but using a legitimate e-mail address) as anonymeece, per se. Of course some such contacts might, by the nature of their content, constitute behavior that the contactee finds objectionable, and persistence in such behavior after being notified of its objectionable nature might rise to being unethical (or trayf, if you prefer); even the fact of contact at all might be (as you suggest it is for you) objectionable, and then I would say that any further contact might equally rise ot be unethical/trayf. Also, some other uses (besides sending e-mail to it) of the legitimate e-mail address—in particular, turning it over to a third party (who would not otherwise have been able to obtain it)—are certainly unethical by my standards.

      But I really don’t think that there is any single widely accepted ethical standard here, so my standards are no more than my standards. Even though I am an Old.

    • Bob

      People post anonymously for a lot of reasons. It is not just fear of retaliation. It may be simply not wanting a sea of e-mails on the topic in their inbox. Posting anonymously allows a user in that situation to put limits on their participation in a debate – they can look at answers when they want to, not have them flood into their inbox.

      But people also post anonymously because they fear that they will be targeted. For example even mildly critical comments in the area of Israeli/Palestinian relations (of either side) can result in a flood of vituperation (although only the pro-Israelis will denounce you as an anti-semite.) So there are debates that people do not want to use their names in because of the shit that would pour in a stream into your inbox, gun-control, abortion, Israel/Palestine, the Tea Party, etc.

      Leiter is a special category – he’ll send you nasty grams and and encourage others.

      • You know I don’t think this is generally true. I am about as pro-Palestinian as you can get and I don’t ever get any e-mail or other electronic communications about it. I think you will find most of the pro-Palestinian blogs like my own are too small and insignificant to get any commentary what so ever.

    • Malaclypse

      Should one of the proprieters of a blog decide I’ve gone over a line (and, let’s face it, I’m an asshole at times), I’d much rather they discuss that with me privately. That said, I’d never use a work e-mail at a blog, and I wouldn’t use a real e-mail at one where I didn’t respect the blog owners.

      • Anonymous

        That’s a fair point, Malaclypse. Thank you.

      • gmack

        Agreed, but this seems a bit different than the behavior Anonymous is describing. If a blog owner sends me an e-mail to knock of X behavior, hey, fair enough, and I agree that this isn’t necessarily over the line. But in this case, it sounds like the administrator is doing something different and, well, weird (I mean, if the writer is just re-hashing arguments in different words, then why not just make the case in public?)

        • Anonymous

          Yes, in my case, that is what they’re doing. Or responding to corrections I’ve made by acknowledging the error but failing to address or correct it back at the original post.

          I do wonder, still, about the ethics of the thing, whether it’s common and accepted practice to behave in this way. There’s nothing inherently wrong in it, but it sort of contradicts the point of the public blog and the open thread and all of the rest of it, and it seems somehow dishonest. I’ve never gone back to a thread where I’ve been moderated to shout it from the rooftops, but that’s because I honestly don’t know if there’s a consensus about it.

          Again, thank you to those who’ve offered responses. And sorry to Campos (but not to Leiter-hosen) for the derail.

          • catclub

            I would not know if this has ever happened to me. The email address
            I use, for blog-post email, is a yahoo one for which I have long since forgotten the password. Maybe I have been invited to be a front pager here. Maybe I have a large amount of money waiting for me in Nigeria and don’t even know.

          • cpinva

            sounds to me like they’re hitting on you. otherwise, why not just post on the board?

            • Anonymous

              Then they should know better. (The correct course of action, of course, is to holler “Cooties” at the top of your little fourth-grade lungs while punching her squarely on the left shoulder before swiftly running away.)

    • thebewilderness

      I think it extremely shady. You may state your opinion at a public meeting that you registered to attend. Just because they know where you live doesn’t mean they are entitled to drop by.
      I am 67.

      • Anonymous

        Thank you for that, thebewilderness. I, too, think it’s oddly presumptuous, and I appreciate the insight.

        • thebewilderness

          I should add that I have been asked by blog owners if they may email me.
          They did not seem to think that simple courtesy an undue burden.

          • Anonymous

            But was this Jill / Twisty, or was this a dude?

            Perhaps they, erroneously, believe that commenters have sacrificed their right to anonymity by writing a response in the first place? It’d be quite hypocritical, given that many blawgers themselves write under (sometimes fairly well-crafted and well-maintained) pseudonyms.

    • SEK

      what’s the ethics of a blogowner or administrator contacting commenters who employ pseudonyms or comment (without registering, but using a legitimate e-mail address) as anonymeece? I’ve had that happen to me more than once: I’ll post a dissenting comment, nothing rude or profane, the comment will be moderated, and the OP will contact me through the e-mail address I used when commenting, usually to continue the conversation privately.

      As such a person who regularly does such a thing, I’ll just say that I don’t think there’s anything unkosher about it. I’ll contact people if I think they’re saying something interesting that’s been ignored, or that was derailed by another line of commentary, because I’m interested in continuing the conversation. It never occurred to me that it might be crossing a I-want-to-dictate-what-I-read-and-when-I-read-it boundary, but I see that now. (Admittedly, though, the subjects I cover aren’t quite as contentious as the ones I think you’re talking about, but still, I really never considered that emailing someone at the address their pseudonym used might be considered offensive. I’ll take more care in the future.)

      • I’m at a blog that has not only had it’s own run-ins with outing, but also had a famous example of pseudonymity, (though before I moved to the front page), and, as a front pager, I’ve contacted people off list. I’ve also been contacted off list. Most of the time, it didn’t feel like an intrusion, but once or twice, it seemed to me that the person was going to turn around and post out of context something to try and get me in trouble, so I chose to reply with an anodyne ‘thanks for your mail’. Lately, I’ve asking people to contact me, but those are usually regulars, and I don’t want to bother them, so if they don’t get in touch with me, I assume they are too busy.

        So I don’t think of it as ‘shady’, except that if it were shady, there would probably be other things that might be amiss. (btw, I’m at the bitter end of the baby boom, am I an ‘old’?) I really don’t think you can make a hard and fast rule without seeing the context of the conversation(s) (This is also why I don’t like lifting people’s comments from other blogs to bring up points in the discussion on another blog, because those comments arise from a particular context, unless they point to those particular comments. I think it is ok to do that in other threads within the blog, because everyone has access to the background and is part of the community in a sense.) Your description of the blogs sounds like they aren’t really places where you want to ‘hang out’ and get to know people, if there is tons of mansplaining, nitpicking and reconstituted comment threads, so you might be quite correct to be on your guard.

        I also think that the blog is primarily public space, and there are questions you want to put that are better put privately, not because they are problematic, but because you don’t want to interrupt things. A banal example would be me standing up in the middle of a meeting and then saying in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear ‘Gee, what is the time, John?’. Because any statement in the comments is a ‘public’ statement, there are a lot of questions that can work to derail the thread.

        Another problem with asking on the blog, is that if a debate opens up and the person you requested to mail you gets in a blog death match with someone else and then the other person says ‘well, I know you’ve been off-line with x, so it is clear you both (or more) are ganging up on me’. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but a lot of these blog spats are, when you look back on them, assume the size they do because of a whole lot of moves like that.

        I do think you should set up another email that does not have your name in it as a start. This is not to say you are doing some form of ‘you are asking for it’, just that it might be a little unreasonable to have people abjure from using emails to contact you because yours has your name embedded in it. That may sound a bit snarky, but I don’t mean it to be. I have to get my students online with a gmail account and I try to have them not use their names, but inevitably, some of them do. Since there is a certain amount of sunk costs involved for protection that is really theoretical at the time, I have to accept that a handful of them are going to have an email that I wouldn’t recommend.

        • Anonymous

          I agree with a lot of this and with SEK’s comment, and I do think that context dictates propriety, in this case. If you’ve established rapport with a commenter, I wouldn’t necessarily think it were strange–although, as thebewilderness notes, it wouldn’t hurt to ask first.

          I frequent (silently) and participate (quite vocally) in a number of different blogs catering to fairly different audiences, and where there is a sense of camaraderie and established, ever-changing, ever-adapting, ever-improving rules for behavior (say, IBTP or Pharyngula), it’s not difficult to make friends outside the confines of the blog. But a single comment doesn’t really warrant, to me, anyway, weirdly confrontational attention. (I sound like that I’m being overly sensitive, and maybe I am, but I am clearly the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules, &c).

          (By the by, the Olds and Youngs thing is just this horrible fucking affectation I’ve picked up from reading people even younger than me, who for some reason think they have to be coy and a little fatuous about no longer being teenagers.)

          As for using one’s name in an e-mail address, it’s a matter of taste and safety. I’ve got little to lose, professionally or personally, if I were outed (what the sad boys are lately calling “doxed,” or what-the-fuck-ever), and being on the receiving end of harassment couldn’t do me much harm because I don’t make my living on the internet, I don’t participate in what’s generally deemed “social media,” and unsolicited e-mail generally gets composted unread.

          But I rank among a privileged few. In precisely the same way a chilly climate works, witnessing the public humiliation of prominent women is why so many women use pseudonyms, and that’s also why they’re targeted for harassment by men (mainly men) who are well aware of how utterly exhausting and frightening it is to be the subject of a mass onslaught: photoshopped photos of oneself, threats of rape or other violence, fake twitter accounts, and all the rest of it (cf most of the women at FtB, Skepchick, Anita Sarkeesian and countless others).

      • ironic irony

        I think the difference is that you aren’t threatening to mess with someone’s livelihood, ala Leiter.

    • Jon Hendry

      I’d think it depends on the content.

      The catch with web fora and blog comments is that a public response to you in a thread might never actually be seen by you, unless you happen to revisit that thread. Also, they can be embarrassing. If you’re a troll, then the site owner won’t care, but if you’re a generally valuable contributor to conversations, the site owner might prefer a private email ‘intervention’.

  • cpinva

    as a non-lawyer/academic, i must admit, i’ve found this whole fascinating, on multiple levels. it will be interesting to see if either leiter or filler ever comes out with an unequivical response to the question.

    • anon

      It was interesting to see that both Leiter and Filler adopted the same rhetorical strategy: don’t deny it and instead use negative hyperbole (the references to puppy killing, torture, Jimmy Hoffa, etc).

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        Are we *sure* that they are different people?

        Considering the history of this controversy, it would be irresponsible not to speculate.

        • cpinva

          “Are we *sure* that they are different people?”

          campos seems to think they, and he has a much more intimate knowledge of the gentlemen in question than i do, or ever want to. so, i’ll take his word for it.

    • Jewish Steel

      I’m getting spoiled. I’ll be disappointed when this sordid tale concludes. Hubris, man. The Greeks had it right that it makes for high drama. The whole thing is just too delish.

  • anon

    Here’s a guess. Campos is holding the nuts.

    There have to be additional facts out there. Recall that whoever hacked the aduren account flat out guaranteed it was Leiter. I assume that Campos, that sly fox, knows something that the rest of us don’t know yet and can keep going “all in” rhetorically. Should be fun to watch this one.

    I’ll be right back, I’m making a big bowl of popcorn.

    • Jon

      Maybe, or maybe he just googled “Brian Leiter.”

      YMMV, but if he’s holding back then I can say that Campos is thinking like a lawyer.

      • anon

        I have no idea if Campos can do actual lawyering but his critical analyses of the claims made by other people — be they marketing claims by deans or arguments from Leiter — are pretty darn good by lawyering standards.

        I could be wrong, but the way Campos keeps upping the ante as to a certain set of facts tells me something.

        • firefall

          Theory (b) Campos is a sockpuppet for Leiter, to eventually be publicly destroyed to the greater glory of Leiter

          Theory (c) Leiter is a sockpuppet for Campos, to show his brilliance

          Theory (d) Campos was the shooter on the grassy knoll, killed Paul, and faked the moonlandings

    • Calming Influence

      I think there are a lot of non-law professionals following this, like myself, who have gone through graduate programs where one asshole adviser or committee member can make or break you on a whim. I am so hoping that your guess is right, and that Paul takes it to the wall.

      “All your base are belong to Campos.”

      • mbw

        Although I am now a law professional, it’s my previous experience in a non-law graduate program more than a decade ago that keeps me hooked on this story. In that instance, a department head tanked my academic career not for my personal comments – but comments my spouse made on a non-professional listserv (and not even about the prof, but about a mentee of the prof.) The power of these people is tremendous, and when wielded capriciously and/or maliciously, should be called out. Props to Prof. Campos for doing that.

        • Calming Influence

          Good to hear you managed to land on your feet, so to speak. So did I, but it left me with an almost religious zeal to see someone like this taken down. If our ideal is a truly meretricious society, these assholes are the monkey wrenches.

          • I suspect you meant to say “meritorious” but meretricious works if you replace “monkey wrenches” with “Founding Fathers.”

  • Ich weiss.

    Leiter’s cyberharassment of Dybbuk is apparently traceable to Dybbuk’s article about Michael Sevel, Leiter’s unqualified protege, whom Leiter promoted for a law professorship. The admin of JD Underground took it down about 18 months (and 65 comments) after its original posting, perhaps in an effort to be concilatory.

    However, the article still exists in yahoo cache, and readers can review it to see whether it is libelous or any of the other accusations (or shall I say projections) that Leiter makes against the article and its author. They can also review the comments that Leiter posts as “aduren”–

    • Anony

      Thanks for posting this. Had been curious to see it. Definitely worth ‘outing’ dybbuk over. Or something.

      And didn’t paduren have anything better to be doing on Thanksgiving?

      • Anony

        And yeah, all of Aduren’s posts do pretty clearly point to him being Leiter. He seems to know a hell of a lot about the particular credentials of random dudes teaching in law schools.

      • Anony

        And it also defies belief that paduren – a random guy on the internet – and dybbuk had a discussion about Sevel, only to have Leiter a few months later post publicly that he was going to start outing anonymous commenters, including dybbuk, at the exact same time as paduren started sending harassing emails to people.

        Leiter is lying. This simply cannot be coincidence. What a creep.

        • Anony

          Oops. I forgot. Leiter hasn’t lied. It was a non-denial denial.

          Sorry, Brian, I wouldn’t want to libel you.

          • Brian Leiter

            Too late, Puny Fool! On the list you go!

            • Calming Influence

              (Shit. I forgot about my avatar.)

        • anon

          And to have aduren open a TLS account the same day the Leitner fiasco hit the fan (allowing him to read the user restricted forum).

    • Ed K

      Leaving aside any issues of the propriety of L’s response, *that* is a shit show all the way around.

    • ChrisTS

      So, not to reveal my lack of savvy, how does one open one of the comments? I tried what I thought were normal means, and got nada. (Could be Firefox.)

      • ChrisTS

        Oh… never mind.

  • pts

    I guess I am a little confused. And I say this as a person who has had some bad run ins with Leiter (feel free to email me if you want the details and the links) that left me with a pretty strong distaste for the man. In fact, I don’t really want to talk about it on a public blog because, more than once, I have mentioned it only to see him appear to restart the argument. An unpleasant person to be sure.

    Leiter was accused of, among other things, sock-puppetry on a particular website using a particular handle. Leiter then denied that he had ever posted at this website with a different name (it is false that he ever posted anything on this website pseudonymously)

    Campos then says, “Ah ha! He never denied being paduren! He must be tacitly committed to the claim that it is his account.”

    But Campos’ claim doesn’t make a lot of sense. If he has denied posting pseudonymously at this website (and the sock puppet was supposed to be paduren), then hasn’t he, a fortiori, denied that he has ever posted at this website as paduren? And if he has denied that, then what exactly is the force of the claim that he hasn’t denied that it is his gmail account? If he didn’t post as paduren, then someone else did. What precisely is supposed to have happened? He opened an email account and then gave it to somebody else?

    As for the evidence that paduren is Leiter, I confess that it is pretty scanty stuff, unless I missed something in all the links and comments. The claim depends on the following stuff: “Leiter likes Neruda, and paduren seems to have similar interests and views as Leiter.” To which I can only say, ‘meh.’ Not a lot to go on, especially given that when Leiter came after me he always did from a readily identifiable handle, though I was a graduate student at the time.

    In fact, the unpleasantly confrontational nature of Leiter seems like contrary evidence. The man has little qualms about doing his bullying in public, so why create a sock-puppet?

    Anyway, it is true he hasn’t denied the breaking anonymity stuff, and unlike the sock-puppetry, putting pressure on someone to release that information seems like exactly the sort of thing he would do. He has a real problem with anonymous criticism.

    So I would focus on the anonymonity breaking accusation (a more serious offense anyway) over the sock-puppetry.

    • anon

      I think you missed the part where Leiter’s aduren email account was hacked to disclose that it was, in fact, Leiter’s email account.

      • John

        How much reliance should we put on the word of this person? This hardly seems like unimpeachable evidence of anything.

        • anon

          Well if you look just a little below you’ll see you can get to the exact same conclusion without the hacked email.

          The hacked email is just the icing on top.

          • anon

            Alternatively, you can just look a little above.

          • John

            Sure, sure. It rather seems as though Aduren is Leiter. But a lot of people seem to be acting as though “some guy who claims to have hacked an email account” is an unimpeachable source and completely sufficient proof.

            • Anony

              Hi Brian. Nice try. Not really. Actually, pathetic.

              The logic has nothing to do with the supposedly hacked account. See me at 9:31-9:51 above. And everything Campos had to say.

              • John

                I am certainly not Brian Leiter, who seems to be a raging asshole. But to pts’s doubts above, anon replied only by mentioning the hacked email, as though that was sufficient evidence, when, in fact, the hacked email claims don’t constitute evidence at all.

                • Anony

                  Certainly not.

                  At least you’re finally admitting that you’re a raging asshole.

                • Monsignor Fluffy

                  Actually by conceding that Leiter “seems to be a raging asshole” John actually does show he’s probably not Leiter. Leiter has serious issues that preclude him from saying anything bad about himself, even anonymously, and even if it were the only way to achieve some sort of credibility for his sockpuppets. Based on Leiter’s online presence over the years, it is my opinion that he is exhibiting symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder:


                  Some of the relevant symptoms here:

                  * Reacting to criticism with anger, shame, or humiliation

                  * Exaggerating own importance, achievements, and talents

                  * Being obsessed with self

                  * Requiring constant attention and positive reinforcement from others

                  From the Mayo Clinic:

                  When you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may have a sense of entitlement. And when you don’t receive the special treatment to which you feel entitled, you may become very impatient or angry. You may insist on having “the best” of everything — the best car, athletic club, medical care or social circles, for instance.

                  But underneath all this behavior often lies a fragile self-esteem. You have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have a sense of secret shame and humiliation. And in order to make yourself feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and efforts to belittle the other person to make yourself appear better.


                • John

                  How exactly am I supposed to demonstrate that I am not Leiter? Calling him a raging asshole isn’t enough? Would it help to say that I assume he probably is sock-puppeting, that he seems to have a serious problem with cyber-stalking, that it’s unconscionable for a website to give one of their commenter’s identities to a third party, and so forth?

                  Can I note that I’ve been commenting on LGM for years under this (not particularly unique, admittedly) name?

                  Once you start accusing somebody of being a sockpuppet, the whole thing becomes a bit circular. But, in general, it seems absurd to start accusing people of being sock puppets because they express skepticism with one particular line of argument.

            • anon

              Absolutely no one seems to be suggesting that since absolutely everyone seems to realize there is other sufficient proof of the connection.

              It’s the only reason the hacked account was given any legitimacy — it squares with everything else.

              • John

                Then why was your only response to pts’s post to mention the hacked email?

                It certainly looks to me as though Aduren and Leiter are the same person. But the fact that some random person claimed to have hacked the email and to know that they are the same seems like assertion to me, not evidence.

                • The fact that Brian mentioned it with a non-denial seems to point to him, because if it wasn’t his account, it wouldn’t be worth mentioning in the first place.

                • John

                  That seems reasonable, although It’s an argument from analyzing Leiter’s reaction rather than from the hack being evidence in itself.

                  As I said, I don’t really have any reason to doubt that Aduren is a Leiter sock puppet. I just think it’s bad practice to view an unconfirmed hack as evidence of anything unless we have specific reason to trust the hacker, which I assume most of us do not.

    • Anony

      Yes, he often seems to bully in the open, but there are seem to be suggestions that he sometimes bullies anonymously as well.


      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”?

      • Anonymous

        Was this while Feinberg was alive and teaching at Arizona??

      • CaptBackslap

        it in no way excuses B-lite’s behavior but I do not enjoy that Jackson cat’s opinions one bit

  • Anon

    There are at least 3 connections between Brian Leiter and Peter Aduren, setting aside the report from the guy who claims he has seen the inside of the paduren account and “guarantees 100%” that they are the same:

    1. Leiter likes Neruda.
    2. Leiter and “aduren” are both outspoken critics of internet commenter “dybbuk”
    3. Peter Aduren sent threatening emails to internet commenter “Brianleitersrottingteeth”

    That doesn’t mean there is no possibility of an alternative explanation, but the possibility seems slim.

    • Anony

      See my other comment above at 9:44. It comes to pretty much this exact conclusion.

    • anon

      Aduren also opened a tls account with the same name the day the Leiter thread went up on the Lounge. You can only read the lounge with an account.

      • so tired

        And he opened an account on jdunderground the same day a Leiter thread was started. And the writing style is very similar.

    • Calming Influence

      And just to be thorough, even if it’s obvious and has been said before: “aduren” is not random. It’s “Neruda” backwards.

      • anon

        Also, I’ll need to refresh but another anonymous blog commentator that looked like a Leiter sockpuppet on JDunderground or xoxo used the name of a Chicago place by Hyde Park. Spelled backwards. Seems like it’s a Leiter thing. I’ll try to track it down.

        • anon

          One of Leiter’s other sockpuppets was ecnasialp, which is “Plaisiance” spelled backwards. (Plaisance = Midway Plaisance = park near UChicago law school).

          From autoadmit.

        • anon

          plaisance backwards

  • I like Brian, he’s a strong and handsome man, very good.

  • Shakezula

    Slight nitpick:

    A person can’t become a pathological liar. You either is or you ain’t.

    Mostly serious question:

    Has the ABA issued any guidelines on social media use? I ask because a lot of this looks like what happens when people use a technology they don’t fully understand. That problem is then compounded by the fact some of these people are egregious fucktoads who can’t bring themselves to admit that the thing on the silver platter is their own smacked ass.

    At any rate, various medical societies keep coming up with social media guidelines for doctors. Of course a doctor faces truckloads of legal liability if (as has happened) she posts about some patient’s medical condition on Facebook. But it also helps maintain the dignity of the profession if doctors refrain from (as has happened) posting nekkid pictures of themselves online. (For non-medical reasons.)

    • herr doktor bimler

      Umm, that’s only for medical doctors, right?

      • Shakezula

        Hmmm. I don’t know. Perhaps you’d like to share the pictures so we can decide.

    • A person can’t become a pathological liar. You either is or you ain’t.

      How so? Other pathological conditions develop; why not this one?

      • Shakezula

        You are conflating physical pathologies with mental pathology?

        At any rate, no. A person doesn’t become a pathological liar any more than a person develops narcissistic personality disorder. They just is and, they can’t hide it. A pathological liar is a striking person because they lie even when they don’t need to, and we’re usually not talking little white lies. In addition to which they’ll often tell wildly contradictory stories (I was born in New Jersey/I was born in Nairobi). To be utterly un-P.C. for a second, it is fucking creepy because it breaks all of the rules about communication.

        Now, sociopaths (or psychopaths if you prefer) are known for being very skilled at lying and general deceit, but again, they are born, not made.

        There’s more about the theory of mental health and genetics but you all are dozing off already.

        • Ed K

          If you think mental pathologies are ingrained and neither develop nor change, you really don’t know shit about mental pathologies.

          • Shakezula

            Au contraire. You for example … But I digress.

            • Ed K

              For the love of fucking God, I know I should leave it alone, but this is beyond obnoxious.

              Try ‘post-traumatic stress disorder’ on for size, or if you don’t like that ‘adjustment disorder,’ and I can go on.

              There are, in other words, a LOT of more or less neatly defined mental pathologies that are situational, have definite beginnings and / or ends in a person’s life, or might follow a distinct trajectory of development. Anyone remotely competent in the area would know this and avoid picking your particularly stupid nit. Accordingly, for someone who pretends to have some clue re: professional practices in the health care area, we can say that you are stunningly comfortable repeating some really dumbassed, ill-informed and pernicious notions regarding mental health conditions being life-long, fixed characteristics by which individuals can simply be defined. The *tendency* toward that sort of thinking is why a lot of people object, loudly, to DSM style diagnostic categories, but even the defenders of the DSM among actual MH professionals would starkly repudiate what you blithely assert here.

            • Ed K

              To add, in case the reason for objecting hasn’t yet become clear. The consequence of the kind of thinking you’re pushing here is real.

              Treating mental illness as a fixed and immutable state of character is crucial to the overall trend toward criminalizing it, seeing people who have been diagnosed as mentally ill as constitutively dangerous and therefore ‘to be warehoused’ in prison or para-prison situations for the rest of their lives, and the correlative move to defund any sort of compassionate care as ‘pointless and naive.’

              Further, given that we know that many of the determinants of some mental pathologies are situational, like trauma or other anxiety-provoking situations of personal insecurity, the line of thinking you’re pushing also contributes to what effectively becomes the criminalization of being a victim of abuse or discrimination, which is a structural trend, as anyone who bothers to cross check the demographics of the U.S. prison population against instances of mental illness will surely see.

              So yeah, I take it to be important to object. But, you know, snark away.

              • Snark_Away…

                “But, you know, snark away.”

                Sorry, looks like you’ll have to carry both sides of this conversation. Kinda like MPD, ya know.

  • so tired

    In relation to:

    “Campos has completely lost it, descending into an amazing paranoid abyss of libel, accusing me, falsely, of, inter alia, cyber-stalking, posting pseudonymously on “Top Law Schools,” even posting “hundreds” (!) of comments on his absurd blog”

    It would be a tortured reading, but maybe Brian thinks it’s not lying because he only intended “falsely” to apply to the cyber-stalking charge? He could reasonably believe that he wasn’t “stalking” (though of course by most people’s standards he was).

    So he would be saying:

    “accusing me of [1] falsely, of, inter alia, cyber-stalking, [2] posting pseudonymously on “Top Law Schools,” [3] even posting “hundreds” (!) of comments on his absurd blog”

    • anon

      Leiter’s non-denial starts off with this:

      “accusing me, falsely, of, inter alia, cyber-stalking”

      But then later in the same paragraph he says this:

      “I can only surmise that he’s lost it because I did pursue the identity, successfully, of one of his cyber-friends”

      And remember this was an update to a post where he started the whole thing off by posting the name, place of employment, law school, and all contact info for someone who sent him an unfriendly email.

      Or to summarize:

      Leiter: I categorically deny cyber-stalking (except when I admit to doing so), and anyway, you are only falsely accusing me of cyber-stalking because I am good at it.

      So no, he can’t be denying the cyber-stalking. That’s the one thing his own post provides all the necessary evidence for.

      • Monsignor Fluffy

        I agree he was stalking, and you agree he was stalking, but the term itself has a value judgment that is hard to objectively analyze. If Leiter thought his pathetic quest was justified, then it’s not stalking. Stalking requires improper motives. Obviously I agree that they were improper here but in his mind he could tell himself that he wasn’t lying when he didn’t characterize his behavior as stalking.

  • Advokat

    New frontiers in tortured logic from TFL:

    “Let’s get real here, Leiter has been bashing and trashing Campos for years, just google it. Anyone who believes anything Campos has to say about Leiter is the naive one.

    Posted by: anonymous2 | March 09, 2013 at 04:42 AM”

    Get that? If Leiter has been trashing Campos for years, it’s **Campos** who is delegitimized as a result.

    • Cody

      Plaintiff: Judge, this man has shot me twice before!

      Defendant: I admit to those. That is why you should not believe him, as he is obviously living out a grudge against me.

  • Pouca

    Both Leiter and Filler fall into a category of people you encounter a lot around the law. Superficially bright people who are convinced that they are vastly more intelligent than the rabble and that the rabble are therefore far too stupid to see through their “brilliant” oratorical evasions.

    As numerous people have by now pointed out – nowhere in Leiter’s rant or Filler’s lame joke is a categorical denial. All Filler had to say was no – I did not give data to Brian Leiter about posters on the Faculty Lounge nor did Leiter have access some other way to that information. That he did not is tantamount to an admission. Both by now must be aware that the issue is serious enough that they need to make a straight answer to the questions – but they can’t.

    Inter alia, Leiter is currently in that hellhole called Denmark, where internet connections are so lousy that December 2009, the OECD ranked Denmark a shared first in broadband connection penetration – it was also first in the 2006 report. And of course a University in Odense will have really poor internet connectivity, especially as the campus has a campus wide WiFi.

    Similarly Leiter failed to categorically deny the key accusations against him – that he is Aduren. Moreover, the conduct of Aduren that of a pathological liar (as in “project much” Mr. Leiter), so, assuming arguendo that Leiter is Aduren, why would expect him to be truthful?

    • john

      “Inter alia, Leiter is currently in that hellhole called Denmark, where internet connections are so lousy that December 2009, the OECD ranked Denmark a shared first in broadband connection penetration”

      Yet somehow he was able to frequently update his philosophy blog during the conference:


      Count the updates between the 6th, when he checked out of his legal blog because he was too busy, and the 8th, when he gave the non-denial.

      • ChrisTS

        I find this worth noting. As well as oddly …sloppy.

      • JDE
        • herr doktor bimler

          Meta-philosophical reflections and claims influence all major discussions in philosophy. Questions about the nature, purpose, and methods of philosophy are of fundamental significance to the separations between different philosophical traditions and developments that take philosophical theorizing in new directions. As reflected by a large number of publications from recent years, this ensures the continued actuality of meta-philosophical debates.

          Are we sure that this is not a Sokal hoax?

          • philo

            The man apparently can’t produce really significant scholarship so he’s switched over to writing about the field itself and trying to bring Leiter-mandated order to it; it’s politics, not scholarship.

            Leiter is, in other words, the Warren Burger of academia.

          • burritoboy

            Nah, that’s fine. The description is more than slightly jargon-filled, but it’s a perfectly standard philosophical topic.

            • brad

              Xphi is not a perfectly standard philosophical topic, and if that write up isn’t trying to leave space for it I don’t know what is.

              I agree with philo, sounds like the kind of conference where lots of tenured unoriginal thinkers talk about how to keep the system working to their advantage.

            • herr doktor bimler

              I was left with the impression that the topic of the conference was not so much philosophy, as building new career structures for philosophers and opening up new areas into which philosophy departments could expand. Exploring the options for launching new philosophy journals.
              All these being perfectly good reasons for a conference, I am not denying that.

  • Bob

    More interesting on his blog are the paid advertisements. Should someone alert the institutions to the person they are associating with.

  • José Arcadio Buendía

    Leiter seems like the kind of dude that would have a satellite phone to get him Internet service on a river boat in the Congo. This may be more bullshit, an excuse for trying to figure out how to respond, or simply another way of mentioning how he was doing something awesome.

    • OhioDocReviewer

      Brian Leter in “Heart of Dorkness.”

      “It was very simple, and at the end of that moving appeal to every altruistic sentiment it blazed at you, luminous and terrifying like a flash of lightning in a serene sky: ‘Exterminate all the insolent!'”

      • Ich weiss.

        This is the best comment on the entire Internet.

      • sibusisodan

        Words cannot express just how good this comment is on so many levels.

  • herr doktor bimler


    I did pursue the identity, successfully, of one of his cyber-friends (“dybbuk”) […] and I did succeed in getting his worst bit of libel deleted and he has now fallen silent. […] Indeed, “dybbuk’s” identity was volunteered by someone Campos pissed all over during his little scam jihad, so, ironically, he has only himself to blame for the mess his cyber-friend is currently in.

    Could someone elucidate the moral principle at work here? Is Leiter saying that it is morally OK to outsource the betrayal of a commenter’s confidential information to the proprietor of another blog, if an outside party (Campos) has irritated that proprietor, and therefore made himself responsible for the betrayal?

    Or it more a historical-positivism principle… Campos is on the losing side of history (other bloggers are siding with Leiter rather than him), therefore any actions taken against Campos’ supporters are justifiable?

    • Monsignor Fluffy

      I think you are missing the elegant moral principals of a Leitercentric universe.

      Brian Leiter is a luminary of both the legal (despite never having seriously practiced law) and philosophical (despite the fact that he was rejected from the top-ranked graduate philosophy programs he applied to, and the best he’s accomplished in his decades of philosophico-legal scholarship is to become considered a middling Nietsczhe scholar) fields.

      Clearly inquiries into moral judgments need go no further than what Leiter does is ethical; by that irrefutable logic it’s morally permissible (even desirable) to leak IP addresses to Brian Leiter, because there is nothing immoral he can do with them, since whatever he does is ipso facto moral.

      • burritoboy

        Being a middling Nietzsche scholar is perfectly valid, in and of itself. Being the definition of “obnoxious asshole” while doing it is another matter.

  • ben w

    “If you said “actually deny (with one exception) any of the accusations made against him,” you may want to sign up for the LSAT right away, or maybe a philosophy graduate program with a heavily analytical component.”

    What do you think “accusing me, falsely”, means? That sounds like an Actual Denial to me.

    • Rob in Buffalo

      What about the implied accusation (paragraph beginning ‘Moving right along’) that Leiter posted “hundreds of comments” on ITLSS? Leiter does deny that, and says that Paul must know this because he he access to ISP info.

      • Advokat

        “and says that Paul must know this because he he access to ISP info.”

        Interesting that Leiter apparently knows so much about ISP info, and still claims that “ISP info” proves that he didn’t post a lot of comments on Campos’ blog.

        It is trivial to use a proxy server to disguise your ISP – given Leiter’s reputed on-line history, he certainly knows enough not to use an IP address that would resolve to a University of Chicago Law School account.

      • john

        But Leiter only has to have shown the personal restraint to post 199 or fewer times to the blog to make the “hundreds” accusation false. And didn’t Campos actually say Leiter had “a lot” of posts, not “hundreds”? So he isn’t even denying the actual claim.

        In any event, the important thing about the denial is the fact that he doesn’t address the accusation that he received personal information form The Faculty Lounge. No one really cares that much about whether he did the pathetic stuff (other than for the lulz), but we do care if he was involved in the unethical stuff.

        • Rob in Buffalo

          No, Campos said “hundreds”, as you can see at the link I posted. And Campos did parse Leiter’s response carefully and concluded that he had only specifically denied one claim, that being posting pseudonymously at Top Law Schools.

          • john

            It still only requires that he posted up to, but no more than, 199 times from the same ISP address. So he was able to take advantage of a little hyperbole on Campos’ part to imply that he doesn’t post at all.

  • disagree with campos

    I have one sort of not awful thing to say about Brian Leiter: he’s got what his favorite poet would call cojones.

    I don’t think he has cojones. If he had cojones, he would man up and admit what he did instead of trying to deny it and put all of this on Campos.

    He’s a pathetic piece of shit.

  • Shakezula

    Sorry, sorry, sorry. But this had to be did.

  • herr doktor bimler

    Evidently Leiter is also fond of Pushkin as an author and as a nym for trolling.

    • Advokat

      How dare Leiter defame Alexander Sergeyevich!

    • Advokat

      Hmmm… “Pushkin” also shows up on other law-related blogs:

      Pushkin wrote :
      With at least five applicants for every spot in the class at even middling law schools, I don’t think anyone in legal education is losing much sleep over a 10% drop in applications, particularly if it is principally slugs who are dropping out. That latter factor ultimately will have more of an effect on the readership of blogs like this than it will on law schools.


      • Advokat

        And TLS…

        Harsh T. Ruth – Your obsession with intelligence, and the concomitant insecurity that must drive it, means either that you were sued successfully by a lawyer, or outperformed in college by a number of classmates who went to law school. I feel bad for you, of course, but you really need to get over it, or the rest of your life will be equally unpleasant. Envy is corrosive.

        Posted by: Pushkin | February 16, 2013 at 04:00 PM


        • Advokat

          The Daily Record, regarding the decline in law school applications:

          Pushkin says:
          September 29, 2011 at 7:22 am
          It’s hard to think of a story more “old news,” or more thoroughly played out (months ago), than this. Have you been busy lately and not had time to prepare a column? As for what the numbers mean for law schools, it depends upon the law school. Some schools had double digit increases in applications last year and at least one local school had its highest numbers ever. You really ought to read more than one story on a topic before “writing” about it.


        • herr doktor bimler

          Leiter’s oeuvre does feature the the word ‘concomitant’ heavily, but it is not clear whether he relies on it any more than any other legal philosopher.

    • anon

      I’m pretty darn convinced Pushkin is Leiter as well.

      • Advokat

        “Pushkin” on Campos:

        11:30 pm September 15, 2011
        Pushkin wrote :
        Campos is struggling mightily to appear legitimate after the silliness of his blog commentary was exposed. I’m surprised you’re still doing stories on him. Did you not read the backstory?

        Bloat – I’m surprised to see you “out there sinning.” I thought the “Irish linen” had finished you off.


        • anon

          Ha ha ha. Leiter won’t spend ‘much’ time reading and responding to the comments.


          9/2/2011 4:11 PM Pushkin wrote:
          It’s doubtful Leiter will spend much time reading your comments or responding to them. It might do a lot for your C.V. but it wouldn’t do anything for his. Besides, he understands that you don’t mud wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.

          • herr doktor bimler

            Dear Professor Leiter,
            There’s this “Pushkin” commenter who’s appointed himself or herself as your spokesman, and feels entitled to make statements on your behalf. Given your attitude to pseudonymity and its misuses, you’ll probably want to tell Pushkin to knock it off.

        • Advokat

          From the ABA Journal on Campos closing his blog:

          What a self-important, delusional soul Campos is. Just about everything he says in this obituary for his blog – about his mission, effects, and purposes – is false, self-serving, or both. Brian Leiter (and others) goes over the major points one by one and shows the silliness of each. Bye bye Paul. Don’t write. http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/2013/02/paul-camposs-final-bit-of-revisionist-history.html

          By Pushkin on 2013 03 01, 8:52 am CST

          The post was about Campos, Bob, not about law schools. Legal practice is changing structurally in ways that will affect everyone in the field for years to come, and law schools will have to adapt to whatever changes emerge (as many are beginning to). But Campos doesn’t have anything to say about any of that and never has. He’s just a mouthpiece for the whinings of self-important twenty-somethings who picked a bad time to play out the “what’s the easiest thing to do next with my life” strategy, and found that they weren’t competitive at the next level, particularly in a world of shrinking opportunities. Such people think throwing tantrums will cause daddy or mommy to make it stop hurting, but that part of life is over and isn’t coming back. I hope they’re able to salvage something from the years they have left, but the signs are not good.

          By Pushkin on 2013 03 01, 10:43 am CST


          • anon

            Leiter’s just a complete asshole.

            Sorry for the language, but this is just too much.

            • Advokat

              Well, now we know what “Pushkin” thinks of law students who can’t get jobs.

              He views them with complete contempt.

      • john

        Wow, just wow. How many alternate identities does this guy have? It’s to the point where I am actually feeling a bit torn between piling on and turning away from the whole sorry affair (obviously, I chose to pile on, what can I say).

        • ChrisTS

          I have gone from finding this odd, to creepy, to genuinely distressing. If half of this is true, this is a person who has some very deep problems.

        • Barry

          What makes it worse is that Leiter at this point is (a) protected by tenure and (b) is teaching at an elite university.

          This means that he can say all sorts of things, and have his job be safe. Also, that he can look at what Prof. Campos is writing, and say ‘that’s true for you dreg schools; *I* am at the University of Chi-cah-go’.

  • aaa
  • anon

    A poster at Volokh reminded of this This American Life episode. Very apropos. Definitely worth a listen.

  • Retiel

    Leiter complains about somebody posting what he thought would be a private email:

    “And without asking if he could post our e-mail correspondence. And without indicating his intent to post my answer.”

    “I think the only conclusion is that DeLong is a dishonest scumbag.”

    But the real kicker:

    “And I’m trying to be as nice as a former New York litigator, who does not suffer dishonest scumbags gladly, can be under the circumstances.”

    Because Leiter was a real lawyer, for reals, for almost an entire year.


  • Advokat

    Of course, “Pushkin” isn’t the only one posting anonymous comments.

    Just posted on TFL:

    Funny how bent out of shape the law school truthers get when they fear being outed but ignore it when one of their own, Constitution Daily, does it to a critic of their point of view.

    Posted by: Anon | March 10, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    An interesting comment – as far as Google and Bing knows, the phrase “law school truthers” has only been used once previously on the internet – on Steven Diamond’s blog.


    • anon

      What’s he referring to in that comment?

  • Hume

    Paul, Thank you very much for doing this. As a philosophy PhD student, Leiter stands as a Nelson Muntz character. He has close connections to many in the field (including the grad chair in my dept), so his explicit willingness to punish those who disagree/criticize is a real threat to students and soon-to-be job candidates (I also have a JD, but I’m not sure his influence in the legal academic world). Thus, it’s not so easy to simply “man up” and call out Leiter on things he says. For us Milhouses, It’s great to see someone with recognition (finally!) standing up to the school-yard bully. In fact, it’s an embarrassment to the philosophy profession that no one with name recognition has not really stood up and challenged Leiter for his conduct/bullying.

    • Monsignor Fluffy

      I think this whole incident might mark a turning point for that. I’m sure everyone in the philosophy world knew he was a jerk and from an academic standpoint, a mid-level scholar — competent but not especially brilliant.

      But there’s a big difference between attacking people publicly and creating fake identities to praise yourself and attack your enemies. It turns you into a figure of ridicule; people will frequently respect a cruel person but rarely a clownish one. As this news percolates through the legal and philosophical worlds, slowly perhaps, there are going to be a lot more snickers behind his back at philosophy conferences, and any future public targets of his blogging are going to have a cache of ready-made ammo.

      • ChrisTS

        I find it odd that this mess seems to be spreading, rapidly, across law blogs but not at all evident on philosophy blogs. I don’t think most PHL bloggers post as often as some of the better law bloggers, but I am a bit surprised that the PHL bloggers have not even taken note of all this.

        • philo

          Apparently he actually has some influence in philosophy circles, to the extent that many philosophy bloggers probably don’t feel like dealing with the headache of one of his tantrums. I would suspect that word is getting around informally. I’m actually meeting up with a philosophy faculty friend of mine in a few hours, I plan on polling him on the issue.

          • ChrisTS

            I am a philosopher, but I have not had an opportunity to poll others.

            I cannot tell if the silence is due to (a) fear, (b) loathing [of a mess], or (c) lack of awareness of the law blog world (which seems unlikely).

            Sorry to have been unable to fit ‘death’ in there.

            • philo

              I would figure it’s a cost-benefit thing; why jump in the mud with Leiter when everyone knows how petty and vindictive he can be. I remember reading somewhere online that he has actively tried to stop other philosophy departments from hiring people whose philosophical viewpoints he didn’t like but I don’t know if this is true or not. Based on his online persona it seems quite believable.

              • brad

                Yep. Why waste political capital here?
                Let the legal community push him into a flame out of undeniable proportions and then just use shame against his former allies to start cleaning up some of the mess. Or so I like to hope.
                If I were still in philosophical academia right now I’d be keeping my powder dry, but ready.

                Honestly, I wonder if Nehamas will deign to involve himself, but probably not. But it’d be a death blow to Leiter.

                • Anon

                  In the philosophy community, is he considered a philosopher?

                • brad

                  Which is not even meant as an insult. I suspect he would not try to claim the title, either. There tend to be very few people at any given time who can call themselves that with any legitimacy (within that portion of the academy, at least), and even fewer for whom it wouldn’t be uncomfortable to be referred to that way.

                • philo

                  Interesting, I know nothing about the philosophy professorate, and I’m curious why he gets what appears from the outside to be so little pushback. Does his reputation extend beyond his philosophy rankings? It’s just so hard to take someone who obsessively edits his own wikipedia page too seriously…

  • You know, if someone has some time on their hands, and access to the currently available software programs that can analyze different samples of writing to see if they’re from the same source, they might come up with some interesting results.

    Hell, just analyzing for the frequency of some of Leiter’s favorite words of insult in the different sock puppets alleged to be Leiters,’ with the use of Microsoft Word, might prove very revealing.

    • Malaclypse

      What if it turns out Leiter uses nautical metaphors, though?

      • I didn’t know insolent was a nautical term.

        • ChrisTS

          CF: “Into the wind.”

  • Pouca

    One of Leiter’s tropes is to call other crazy, mentally ll, pathological liars and obsessed – the latter usually with Leiter (vanity). He is also a champion projector, always accusing people of what he is actually doing.

  • Advokat

    New possible Leiter sock puppet at TFL, with the lengthy name:

    Anonymous Only Because I Don’t Want People to Harass Me For Speaking Common Sense (and not only am I not Brian Leiter, I have never met him and couldn’t give a fig about who’s right and wrong in this dispute)

    For someone who “couldn’t give a fig about who’s right and wrong in this dispute”, he seems awfully, awfully invested in demonstrating that Leiter is right and Campos is wrong. To wit:

    “So you wouldn’t hold Campos to the same standards you’re holding TFL to? Don’t you find that odd? Shouldn’t you be equally outraged that Campos’ blogs do not have privacy policies?

    You say the difference is no one has alleged Campos has shared IP and e-mail addresses. J’accuse. Recently Campos and his acolytes have outed several of Leiter’s aliases. Using the same leaps of logic and standards of evidence your group is using, I have just presented credible evidence that Campos is sharing IP and e-mail addresses for the purpose of attacking and harrassing Brian Leiter. I can’t wait to see dozens of contentious accusatory comments appearing on websites that Campos has some affiliation with.

    And we still haven’t heard from Campos about his possibly selling nuclear technology to Iran. I am this close to contacting the FBI with this stunning evidence of his possible crimes.”

    Leiter, as always, is the real victim here.

    And in a prior post on TFL:

    “If the editors of this blog wonder whether your regular readership would support deleting off-topic comments, I give my support to such an action (including deleting this very off-topic post).”

    Funny how certain anonymous commenters always want the posts deleted relating to this issue.

    • ChrisTS

      But, the concern about Leiter and TFL is that someone at TFL gave an anonymous poster’s information to Leiter (so that he could chase/stalk the person[s]).

      That is not the same as commenters on LGM trying to figure out which pseudonymous commenters on various blogs might be sock-puppets.

      I enjoy a good tu quoque – especially combined with a bit of deflection – as much as the next person. But, it does have to be good.

      • Advokat

        It’s interesting – “Anonymous Only…” started out at TFL making the reasonable point:

        “Can people pursuing personal or professional vendettas please make these pursuits elswhere? There are plenty of forums for people to post accusations and make personal attacks. A thread about the Kansas-Nebraska Act is not the right place for it.”

        (Of course, it would be nice if TFL provided a post to discuss privacy issues on the blog, which they have chosen not to do.)

        Of course, “Anonymous Only…” then immediately followed that statement with “In the meantime, you’re just destroying whatever extremely limited credibility your side has in whatever the heck this dispute is about.”

        Huh? If the poster knows nothing about the dispute, how the heck does he know that one side in the dispute has “extremely limited credibility”? Things go downhill from there in “Anonymous Only…”‘s subsequent posts.

        BTW, “Matt”, “Ganger”, and “Anonymous Only…” have all posted in this one thread.

        • Retiel

          So it appears that Leiter is arguing with Leiter about the antics of one Professor Leiter. If everyone else stopped posting, you have to wonder how long the thread would continue with just him posting.

    • Buzz_Leityears_Shrinking_Testes…

      “J’accuse. Recently Campos and his acolytes have outed several of Leiter’s aliases.”

      Huh? Not even an apple/orange. More like apple/cabbage…

      • Cody

        Isn’t his an admission that Leiter is indeed all of these people?

        He isn’t saying “Attempted to out” or “Accused”. This person is agreeing that Leiter is indeed these people.

    • herr doktor bimler

      New possible Leiter sock puppet at TFL

      Has parody been excluded here?

  • Buzz_Leityears_Shrinking_Testes…

    “If there was any doubt that Leiter sent creepy emails from the paduren account to people whose addresses he filched from TFL with the help of Filler, as part of a campaign to intimidate anonymous critics by threatening to out them with their employers and others, their mutual failure to actually deny this removes any such doubt.”

    Huh? A lawyer wrote this? C’mon. Do I think BL did pretty much what has been said and do I think he and DannyBoy is in cahoots? Sure. But failure to deny doesn’t remove doubt. Guess I’m just a prude, but I don’t think lawyers and law profs should sling around such loose commentary, even just on a blog.

    All that said, enjoying watching the pressure y’all are putting on BL and TFL as well.

    • Retiel

      I think the point of the poster was that both Brian Leiter and Dan Filler commented on the general situation, but did not deny the specific allegation related to sharing information and cyberstalking.

      It would be different if they had not commented at all, then it wouldn’t be as strong a presumption.

      • Jo

        Dude, that is Leiter too. You can tell by the way he omits the personal pronoun and says a few inconsequentially negative things about himself while he argues. It’s dispositive, that trope. Watch for it. I’m Brian Leiter too, but I’m putting in a lot of personal pronouns so it’s hard to tell that I am. Guess I’m just a softie that way. And remember, Campos is a lawyer who admits that he doesn’t know how to think like a lawyer. Or so I’m told. Beware Poe’s law!

  • denial
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  • Listless Lawyer

    Leiter has a long history of this sort of bad behavior. Most have probably forgotten, but back in 2005 Leiter tried for a while to “out” blogger Juan Non-Volokh.

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