Wednesday, 19 October 2005

Kuznicki on Gallagher at Volokh

I think Jason Kuznicki gets to the heart of my discomfort with same-sex marriage opponent Maggie Gallagher’s guest-starring gig at The Volokh Conspiracy.

Analogy of the day: Ann Coulter : Josef Goebbels :: Maggie Gallagher : Clayton Cramer. Discuss.

Tuesday, 3 May 2005

Somewhere Brock is smiling

The sales of David Bernstein’s oft-plugged tome You Can’t Say That! are apparently flagging. It certainly doesn’t reflect a lack of marketing effort by the author…

Friday, 25 February 2005


David Bernstein has moved up from shilling his books to a post that can essentially be summed up as “please help pay my salary.” I kid you not.

Considering George Mason Law School? Are you considering attending George Mason, academic home of me and co-conspirator Todd Zywicki? People telling you that it’s crazy to consider Mason over a “superior” (i.e., higher-ranked in U.S. News) school? Well, I’m meeting an increasing number of GMU law students who have turned down, among other schools, local and regional competitors William and Mary, George Washington, and Georgetown (in fact, I’ve run into several students who turned down G’town but not G.W.; I didn’t think to ask, so I’m not sure if they didn’t get in or didn’t apply to G.W.). Several years ago, such students were few and far between, but not anymore. I don’t have exact numbers, but I’d say it’s pretty common (given that G.W. and G’town have way bigger entering class sizes than Mason, it wouldn’t take, from their perspective, many students who turned them down to make up a significant proportion of a GMU class—20 each, and you have a quarter of a GMU entering class!). Your mileage may vary of course, and one’s choice of law school is a highly individual decision. But if your heart is with GMU, and you want to reject a higher-ranked school, go for it, you will not be alone.

Why not include a referral code while he’s at it? If he doesn’t already have one, I suggest ”?exclude=davidb.”

Look, I get the institutional pride thing. If some kid with the grades and SATs asked me if he should go to Millsaps or one of the other alma maters, unless he was hard-core into engineering or really into math I’d tell him or her to come here—the hard-core engineer or mathematician I’d send to Rose-Hulman, and I’d only include math because they have a much bigger department. I’d even say the best undergraduate education you can buy in the Deep South (Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina) is right here. But the idea I’d whore out my blog to plug my employer is patently ridiculous.

Sunday, 28 November 2004

Good Luck, Randy Barnett

I’m no big fan of Randy “Buy My Book” Barnett qua blogger, but after Lawrence Lessig, he’s my second favorite lawyer. I join Jim Lingren in wishing Mr. Barnett the best of luck Monday in oral argument before the Supreme Court in the case of Raich v. Ashcroft.

I’d love to see Raich win the case, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

Friday, 15 October 2004

A disturbance in the force

Amber Taylor is underwhelmed by Jim Lindgen’s performance thus far at The Volokh Conspiracy, although unflattering comparisons to such paragons of Volokhness Clayton Cramer, Cathy Seipp, and Cori Dauber have not (as of yet) been made.

For what it’s worth, I think Jim is a good blogger and (at least from my correspondence with him in the past) a smart guy, but I don’t think he fits in particularly well at the Conspiracy; then again, I never really thought Jacob Levy fit in well there either.

Tuesday, 10 August 2004

Volokh the wishy-washy

Eugene Volokh applies his theory of political slippery slopes to gay rights, noting that anti-gay bigots do indeed have something to fear from the end of government anti-gay discrimination, such as anti-sodomy laws.

The gay rights movement has won many victories, and has influenced many people even where it hasn't (yet) won -- such as in the gay rights debate -- by essentially asking "How does it hurt you?" How does it hurt me that two homosexual adults can have consensual noncommercial sex with each other in their own home? How does it hurt me that they can get married, or adopt children? (One can say that it may hurt their children, but many people, myself included, are skeptical about that.)

But that question ignores those gay rights proposals that would reduce the liberty of others—and it ignores the way the various proposals are, as a matter of practical politics, interconnected. As a logical matter, it’s possible to bar the government from discriminating based on sexual orientation, but to leave private parties free to do so. But as a psychological matter, many people’s judgments about what private people (or government officials acting in their private capacity) may do are affected by what the government may do. The more homosexual relationships are legitimized, the more many (not all, but many) people in the middle of the political spectrum on this question will condemn even private discrimination against homosexuals.

The analogy to race discrimination that gay rights advocates often cite is really quite apt here. People who oppose homosexuality are understandably worried that their views will become as stigmatized—and acting on those views will in many ways become as illegal—as racist views are now. And one way to fight this possibility is to fight it early, for instance in the marriage debate, rather than to wait until that’s lost and the gay rights movement moves even more firmly towards restricting the private sector.

Prof. Volokh sees the analogy to race discrimination, but in his final paragraph he goes on to say this:

So the result is pretty sad: Maybe we do have, as a practical matter, a choice between a regime that suppresses the liberties of homosexuals and benefits those who don't approve of homosexuality, and a regime that benefits homosexuals and suppresses the liberties of those who don't approve of homosexuality. Perhaps it's clear that one of the options, despite its flaws, is better than the other; as I said, I strongly support some parts of the gay rights program and tentatively support some others, despite the risks that I identify. [emphasis added]

Perhaps? Let’s alter that last paragraph a little:

So the result is pretty sad: Maybe we do have, as a practical matter, a choice between a regime that suppresses the liberties of blacks and benefits those who don't want to associate with blacks, and a regime that benefits blacks and suppresses the liberties of those who don't want to associate with blacks. Perhaps it's clear that one of the options, despite its flaws, is better than the other; as I said, I strongly support some parts of the civil rights program and tentatively support some others, despite the risks that I identify.

There are some libertarians who think that private employers, private businesses, and private landlords should be able to discriminate on the basis of race, while government should not. I disagree with this position (it’s at the top of my “Why I am not a libertarian” list), but I can respect it.

But if Prof. Volokh is right, and the slippery slope condemns us to one extreme or the other, restrictions on the liberty of racial minorities, or restrictions on the liberties of racial bigots, I can’t imagine a decent human being who would choose the former over the latter. And if it comes down to a choice between restricting the liberty of gays, and restricting the liberty of anti-gay bigots, it’s perfectly clear to me what the right answer is.

I sincerely hope you get that Federal judgeship you’re gunning for, Prof. Volokh. You’re smart, fair-minded, and seem to be a first-rate legal scholar. If I were President, I’d nominate you.

But I also sincerely hope that when you get it, you’ll grow a spine, and start denouncing bigotry for what it is.

UPDATE: According to Clayton Cramer, I'm part of an "enormous threat to civil liberties." (Hat tip to Will Baude.)

Sunday, 8 August 2004


Juan Non-Volokh writes:

Dahlia Lithwick has her first guest column in the New York Times today. It's a very thoughtful piece on the unintended consequences of rape shield laws. It is further proof that most of the Times' guest columnists are better than the real thing.

Would that this were true of guest bloggers at the Volokh Conspiracy.

Tuesday, 20 July 2004

Vote for your least favorite conspirator

Amber Taylor is soliciting votes in a face-off of The Volokh Conspiracy’s three worst guest contributors. As they say, vote early and often.

Update: One of Taylor’s candidates for “worst conspirator,” Cathy Seipp, has really gotten under Conrad’s skin with a fisk-worthy post accusing non-voters of being lazy and idiotic, a phrase Conrad would more likely apply to Ms. Seipp’s analysis of the issue at hand. Go away for a few days, and apparently all hell breaks loose in the blogosphere…

Also, Will Baude is running a web poll asking the same question. At present, Clayton “I'm a homophobe, and I'm OK” Cramer is well in the lead.

Friday, 14 May 2004

Little Green Volokhs

David Bernstein posts another blog entry in his seeming quest to turn the Volokh Conspiracy into LGF.

Personally I don’t think that T-shirts designed to foment ill-will between religious groups on campus are “cool.”

Wednesday, 24 March 2004


Is it just me, or is David Bernstein striving to single-handedly turn the Volokh Conspiracy into Little Green Footballs?

Saturday, 8 November 2003

Sacreligious snarkiness

I couldn’t come up with anything better than this “on the fly”…

Just say no to Cori Dauber -

Matthew has a few more, all more inspired than mine, guaranteed to tick off all wings of the Blogosphere. And Ryan at The Dead Parrot Society apparently isn’t a big Dauber fan either.

Built with the Church Sign Generator via Michele.

Tuesday, 4 November 2003

Cori Dauber roundup

It seems that Cori Dauber has rapidly become everyone’s least favorite Volokh Conspirator. In addition to my criticism of her excessive use of rhetorical questions, here’s what other bloggers are saying about her:

Okay, that last quote is taken out of context. But why let context get in the way of a good snark?

And damning with faint praise, Will Baude agrees with Chris that Cori Dauber is not as bad as Clayton Cramer was. Will has also done us the favor of adding a link to the Dauber-free version of the Volokh Conspiracy to the Crescat blogroll, listed as "Purer Volokh".

I should make that "almost everyone's least favorite Volokh Conspirator." Lest it seem like everyone hates Prof. Dauber’s blogging, I note that Glenn Reynolds likes her. Heh.

And just to clear up a bit of confusion on the part and Will Baude and me, this picture indicates that Prof. Dauber is in fact a woman.

[Chris here: I’d add “Purer Volokh” to the blogroll, but it would end up off in Den Beste-land along with the people who don’t do pings. So our readers will just have to deal with Cori, or bookmark the link above.]

Sunday, 2 November 2003

Cori, Clayton, and Fisk

Brock noted Cori Dauber’s inauspicious start at the Conspiracy yesterday, and I agree that her blogging has been a bit uneven. However, her critique of the San Francisco Chronicle’s fawning piece on Robert Fisk is spot-on. But I think the key paragraph in the article is on Fisk’s attitude toward objective reporting:

Fisk doesn’t believe in the concept, calling it a specious idea that, as practiced by American reporters, produces dull and predictable writing weighed down by obfuscating comments from official government sources.

Of course, a lot of critics of the American media—on both the left and right—would argue that American reporters don’t practice “objective reporting” either.

Saturday, 1 November 2003

Rhetorical questions

Someone needs to tell Cori Dauber, current guest blogger over at the Volokh Conspiracy, to take it easy on the rhetorical questions.

This seven sentence post contains five rhetorical questions. And this twelve sentence post contains seven rhetorical questions.

I’m not saying there’s never a place for rhetorical questions, but, like exclamation points and all-caps they should be used very sparingly.

Overall, Cori’s blogging style gives me the impression that he’s about to blow an artery. So it doesn’t surprise me that he links to Little Green Footballs here, in a post that consists of four rhetorical questions out of eight sentences.

Sorry Eugene, this guy is your worst guest blogger since Clayton Cramer.