Tuesday, October 30, 2007
The phrase "law porn" has become popular. Apparently it was invented by Pam Karlan and popularized by Brian Leiter. The phrase is apt in some ways, but I think it vastly overstates the interest of these glossy fliers that appear in faculty mailboxes touting the new hires, recent scholarship, new chairs, etc. etc. of law schools. The problem is, while food, cars, electronics, sporting equipment, real estate and clothing can be pornographic, I don't think law can. At least not for me. I can drool over a Dodge Viper, a Telluride trophy ranch, an Italian food orgy and so on, but I cannot drool over a new chair in commercial law at the University of South Dunderfallow. I mean, I might feel some professional obligation to feel mildly curious, but that is the very opposite of pornography. If a pornographic magazine appeared in my faculty mailbox, I would first wonder which of my colleagues thought this would be funny and second worry that I could lose my job for participating too enthusiastically in the marketplace of ideas. When I get "law porn" I throw it away without even a thought. Nothing in me resists the impulse to throw it away. It's not pornography. I know it when I see it.