An ode to certain “serious” law professors

I received some critical reaction from “serious” law professors regarding my use of “stfu” in my Hobby Lobby post. Here is a particularly florid one from a corporation’s guy who so far as I know has never stepped into a trial courtroom let alone any other courtroom.* Without intending to shove a stick in the eye of such types, I encourage them to read Christopher M. Fairman, FUCK, 28 Cardozo Law Review 1711 (2007). I then encourage them to grow up.

I supposed I am obligated to do one more thing. “Serious law professors” have these attributes: You have tenure, you are highly educated, you proclaim the value of intellectual honesty (but you never take risk that would test that commitment), you give high value to the power of words (as long as they accord with your world view), you never make a point without evidence to back it up and you always attend the Dean’s tea. But, because I, like you, place a premium upon not giving offense or inflicting trauma on someone who is not a member of my elevated class, I herewith provide a TRIGGER WARNING. This post might cause certain “serious” law professors emotional issues. So, don’t read this post or the cited law review article if you wish to avoid years of therapy that the resulting trauma may require. 


*Citing no evidence, the good professor (a real wordsmith) accused me of “thinly veiled anti-Catholicism.” While it is true that I am not a religious person and my first cousin, after travelling the world, converted to Reform Judaism, the following might interest the good professor: the man who most influenced me about telling the truth was a dear friend and a Catholic priest; my late wife devoted her teaching to the Catholic schools; my brother-in-law (the brother of my late wife) went to a Catholic high school as did my middle daughter, at my insistence; my oldest daughter married in a Catholic church and took instruction from a Catholic priest in order to do so; five years after the sudden death of my first wife, I married my second wife, Joan, a devote Catholic and member of a large Catholic family with seven children.

27 responses

  1. Oh, certainly not. But see On being a dummkopf. Apparrently, lame snark get’s you tenure and the title of: William D. Warren Distinguished Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law in Los Angeles.

    All the best.


  2. Aren’t trigger warnings supposed to come before the triggers? *grin*

    Seems like a whole lotta people these days want to focus more on how we say things than on what we say. I’m sure it has nothing to do with their unwillingness to engage the ideas.

  3. Rick,

    OMG, I screwed up a trigger warning. My bad.

    Seriously, I agree with your point about the focus on trivia rather than substance. That is really too bad.

    All the best.


  4. Nevertheless, you do seem, in the last several days, to have learned the lesson that saying something in an unnecessarily offensive way can interfere with getting the substance of one’s message across. In particular, your comment that included the very unfortunate use of the Internet acronym “STFU” was principally making a serious and interesting point about the late Yale Law Prof. Alexander Bickel’s theory extolling the “passive virtues” of the Supreme Court’s traditional reluctance to reach out further than necessary or sooner than necessary to address controversial issues. As a result, no interesting discussion ensued about the merits of Bickel’s theory or its applicability to the ACA/RFRA Hobby Lobby issue.

  5. Given your connections to the Catholic Church, if you are anti-Catholic-I stress that I am not saying that you are-then the anti-Catholicism was not “thinly veiled.” Really, you hid it pretty well until the “serious” law professor outed you. He must be quite a detective.

    Of course, all discussions of professors are incomplete if one doesn’t allude to the real Professor i.e., the one played by Russell Johnson on “Gilligan’s Island.”

  6. Fascinating article (not the post, which ugh). I’d love to see an addendum seven years later (2007 was seven years ago?!) with an analysis of the kind of Internet slang you used in the article: stfu, wtf. The little Fs strike me as more innocuous as initials, but the incredible hullabaloo over the Hobby Lobby post indicates that they’re way more charged to some people than I would have suspected. Particularly I was surprised because, contrary to what the law prof is insinuating, it was not a partisan stfu… but I digress. There’s also the delightful OMGWTFBBQ, a sort of meta slang that has no offensive meaning whatsoever but does contain that dangerous F. (If you get a jones for linguistic analysis like this, Language Log is always good for a half hour or hour or three hours — some of it goes right above my head but there’s a lot of cool stuff there).

  7. As i wrote in response to your post “Should Interstate 80 be treated like JFK airport in New York,” I believe one of the primary issues is your continued use of corrosive and acidic words, which when issued by a federal judge can lessen the public’s perception of the judiciary (those are your words from your Recusal Order). Your sentencing philosophy tells defense attorneys to “shut up,” you have told Congress to “go to h***” (your blog censors your word choice), told the Supreme Court to “STFU” and discussed being a “dirty old man” gawking at female attorneys.

    Your choice of language, even if for a legitimate purpose (again, your words), runs counter to the Code of Conduct for United States Judges and has the effect of lessening the public’s perception of the judicial branch and of our government. Your repeated use of corrosive words does not further civil discourse regarding judicial decision making. Your Hobby Lobby post serves as just another example of your disregard for the very notion of ethical conduct that you wrote about only three years ago.

  8. Sean,

    If you mean I sometimes write one thing and then later contradict myself you are right. I try not to be hypocritical but I fail from time to time. It is right and fair for you to call me out when I do.

    I have only one thought for now, although I could come up with others. I have written over 500 posts. Most of them do not contain the failing that you describe.

    In sum, I encourage you to hit me hard when you see something that is wrong, unfair, unduly snarky about another human being, unethical, or hypocritical. Truly, I need the help. Indeed, that is one of the reasons that I don’t moderate comments.

    All the best.


  9. Dear Professor Bainbridge:

    This is a friendly warning that some jerk seems to have hijacked your blog. Since it is, of course, inconceivable that a “prolific scholar” who has written “over 75 law review articles” would write drivel such as that which appeared on your blog on July 7, the only possible explanation is that someone is trying — successfully, I must say — to make you look like an idiot.

    Good luck in your efforts to restore your reputation. It would be a shame if anyone thought that you actually wrote that garbage, which unfortunately leaves the impression that you are a really stupid (and not very nice) person.


    Matt Pettigrew

  10. Why didn’t you post this on Bainbridge’s blog, Matt, rather than here? Oh, wait … Bainbridge doesn’t allow comments on his blog postings. I guess that’s because he’s a pontificator (no anti-Catholic implication intended), not a dialoguist.

  11. As you pointed out, the brave, distinguished professor has banned comments on his blog (at least on this particular issue). So I posted my note on this blog on the off chance that someone might bring it to his attention. And just to be sure that he is aware of the apparent plot to make him look like a moron, I sent him an email.


  12. Pingback: “STFU” Judge Tells Professor Bainbridge: “FUCK” | Election Law Blog

  13. Good gosh, Sean, you are such a silly baby! But you do a very nice interpretation of mid-19th century Victorianism, I guess you can stay.

  14. UPDATE

    Go read the Pingback: “STFU” Judge Tells Professor Bainbridge: “FUCK” |

    Of course, I said no such thing. I recommended that the professors read a law review article with the title of “Fuck.” It is a serious article published in a serious law review and written by a serious law professor. I do not understand why Professor Hasen wrote the intellectually dishonest post title. But then again his election blog is all about propaganda.


  15. Pingback: Butthurt Bites Bainbridge (and lawyers are laughing) | Simple Justice

  16. I bet that when someone accuses you of being a racist that to prove them wrong you tell them about all the black friends you have.

    Just as having friends who belong to a minority doesn’t mean they’re not a racist, having Catholic connections doesn’t mean a person isn’t a know-nothing religious bigot.

    Of course I’m not accusing anyone of being a racist or bigot, just pointing out the incongruity between what one says or writes and the affiliations they have.

  17. Frankie,

    Of course you are right, sorta. But since I spend every holiday with my “outlaws” I suspect (don’t you) that I would have been tossed out on my ass 20 years ago if I was so bigoted. I cannot establish my bona fides by reciting my religious believes because I am not religious. That is the reason for listing some of the important people and events in my life that are related to the Catholic faith.

    Oh, by the way, if my wife was African American (just like my wife is Catholic) would you make the same argument?

    All the best.


  18. I have often found this blog informative and amusing. Irreverence is a part of it. So what?

    The pingback is absolutely dishonest. I was actually directed here from Hasan, although both your blog and his are on my feed. And having never previously commented, I was at that point tempted to defend the post even based upon Hasan’s description. But lo-and-behold, it’s not even true.

    The fact that folks are trying to make a mountain out of this molehill says more about their intolerance than your own.

    While I’m not sure how much this is motivating the storm in a teacup— it’s amazing to me that folks can constantly argue that judging is simply what a judge had for breakfast and then balk at reading the menu. Your blog is the menu—- if you don’t like what you see, then you’re a fainthearted realist.

  19. AndyK,

    Why I agree of course, I think everyone (even leftist groupies of this leftist judge–how truly funny) are bored with this. I know I am. Today, I write about financial controls and the like. That is much more interesting.

    Thanks for your engagement though. All the best.


  20. Pingback: Judge Kopf Responds to My Blog Post, Moving from Attacking Prof. Bainbridge to Attacking Me | Election Law Blog

  21. Aren’t trigger warnings supposed to come before the triggers? *grin*

    Not where I grew up. My junior high basketball coach taught us about “trigger warnings” and paying attention. Whenever he caught us woolgathering during practice, he’d fire a basketball at us–not near us, gauged to just miss, but at us. On hitting us (because we really were inattentive), then he’d yell, “Heads up!”

    Eric Hines

  22. Pingback: A disturbing anecdote about how some in the legal academy treated Professor Chris Fairman when he wrote his serious law review article entitled “Fuck” « Hercules and the umpire.

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