Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My objection is that it is demeaning to pornography
Tom Smith

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.


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Tom Smith


I think you wrote this just to get to the last sentence, the punch line. If so, it was worth it. Well done.

Posted by: DRJ | Oct 30, 2007 2:43:52 PM

The way the run-of-the-mill refer to "X-porn" is if the person involved is spending time, well, /lusting/ after the material involved. Perhaps the roommate of an undergrad dreaming of a well-paid job in a lawfirm might use the term to refer to his buddy's collection of such glossy magazines, but for a prof it's basically pretty junk mail. I'll tease a buddy of mine about his "car-porn" - magazines with roadsters and exotic cars, but in an auto dealership they'd basically be just pretty junk mail.

Posted by: Nony Mouse | Oct 30, 2007 4:03:04 PM

I tend to think of that stuff as akin to those ads showing this week's specials at Rite-Aid. Straight to the round file with nary a glance on the featured items. Er, professors.

Posted by: dgm | Oct 30, 2007 5:53:51 PM

Sounds more like "spam" or "junk" than "porn".

Posted by: krm | Oct 31, 2007 10:00:35 AM

Love the last line. To which I guess the correct reponse is, "you do, do you?"

Posted by: Stephen Bainbridge | Oct 31, 2007 3:49:08 PM

Hey, to each his own. Some of us find commercial law a major turn on.

Posted by: Adam Levitin | Oct 31, 2007 5:11:34 PM