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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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@example.com 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.