Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Dignity, or, Why You're Not a Tenured Professor of Law

Hypothetical time!

You're a law professor at what some would call a third-rate shithole.  Somehow - I'm going to leave out exactly how it happens for purposes of the hypothetical - you accidentally send your students a link of a comely young woman playing with anal beads in her Drexel.  Oops!  Someone tattles and it becomes a story with media involvement.  What do you do?

A.  Say nothing and let it drop off the face of the internet after the investigation ends and interest in this seriously trivial non-story dies out.

B.  Own up.  Explain, or make up, how it happened (examples: a vague computer virus, a student hacker, a mature adult viewing legal media as part of a reasonable, healthy sexual existence, etc.)  Maybe even segue into copyright/trademark and ask if the young woman and/or anal bead manufacturer is seeing any royalties.

C.  Wait three weeks and publish an op-ed in the Washington Post on the subject of "dignity" where you excoriate the media, internet commentators, and your own students for having a lack of dignity in not letting it pass immediately as a triviality and exposing you to a public anal beading shaming.

Most of us, certainly myself, would invariably pick A or B.  By selecting A, you effectively tell the world with your silence that it's a triviality upon which you no longer wish to dwell.  The lack of attention proves its trivial and insignificant nature, and it would more quickly go into the vacuum of the internet.  Pretty soon, no more people would know of you than they would know any of the dumb law professors who said stupid things a few years ago.  Remember Sara "Move to Nebraska!" Stadler?  Obviously, I just reminded you, but the point stands.  Trust me, in three months we'll have a new incarnation of Larry Mitchell or a new Nick Allard interview and you're a footnote.

With B, I think, we have not only an adult response, but one that shows a mature self-deprecation, an openness and transparency, and - possibly - a public approach to the problem that now people can't have a conversation with you without thinking of you know what.  Moreover, it has productive value.  You admit you made a mistake - either with lax(ative?) security protocols or in doing the porn thing at the same time you're doing the law professor thing.  It serves as a public service proclamation in favor of tighter computer security and/or a primer on how mature adults should look at pornographic materials without sending them to unwanted recipients.

Really, what if a female first year associate sends something like this to her veteran alpha male litigator boss?  She might find herself reassigned to dictation duty and learn the true value of versatility.  Is there a universal way to blush and shamefully claw back one's "oops i sent you pr0n" email?  She could've proposed a universal solution!  That's what the law is for.

But this is why we are not tenured law professors.

Drexel Professor Lisa McElroy chose the lubed-up Hershey Highway to Door C:
[N]o one questioned the dignity of those who forwarded the unintended post. No one asked why, if they found it so offensive, students opened the link, with its unmistakable Web address, and watched the video long enough to know what it contained.

No one publicly questioned the dignity of the so-called journalists who wrote salacious stories, broadcast them, waited outside my office to interview my students, called my unpublished cellphone number. And no one questioned the dignity of the intended audience.
Is it, I wonder, the degraded person who lacks dignity? Or the person who seeks to degrade her?
That's right.  Professor Lisa McElroy may have suffered a potential hit to her dignity, but all that gives her is a privilege to call out those who called her out on it.  Literally everyone else who knows about this story has less dignity than Professor Lisa McElroy because, whereas she forwarded an anal beads video to her students, the rest of us pointed out that she forwarded an anal beads video to her students or were entertained by it.

The worst here are obviously her students.  Imagine it.  A professor just posted porn on a school-sponsored resource.  What kind of future lawyers is Drexel producing that the undignified third-rate shitholes are reporting potentially offensive material to a centralized authority and/or the media?  Do you morons think there's any room in law for narcs?  Go take professional responsibility again.  I think you missed the part about "hush hush."

And shame on us!  Shame on me for writing this and chiding all of us on our shame.  Shame on me for writing this paragraph, including this sentence.  If this paragraph were to go on long enough, I'd break the dignity sound barrier.

We find amusement in embarrassing peccadilloes.  We really need to stop that, everyone.  I understand that it's been going on for 10,000 or so years and is part of having a healthy social fabric that doesn't mutilate its own children with things like sweatshops and indentured servitude debt, but . . . dignity.

I may accidentally link the letter "A" to your grade,
   a poem by the law school truth center.

   being worthy of honor or respect
a serious manner or style
       says Merriam Webster.
says I:
           when you speak indignity,
   you lose dignity, too, 
from shaming us

Hear me out:
    please take time now to gently introspect
report misdeeds, after a while
          who's undignified, me?
No you:
          writing on triviality,
    go and jam plastic beads
up your anus 

Well, folks, I'm getting off.  But not to anal beads.  To this, a much better gem from Professor Lisa McElroy that you can all shove up your asses just like you do with your monthly student loan payments:
But sometimes, just maybe, people are unemployed because they didn’t work hard in law school or in a previous job. In other words, it’s not the law schools’ fault.
Ah, that's as satisfying as...okay do I really have to finish this?  Also, if you point out that this link here is to brutally nasty hardcore pornography, you're the one who's lost dignity, not me, the one publicly posting a link to degrading pornography on a totally unrelated media platform.  And if I have to run an op-ed in the Washington Post to remind you how minor of an incident it was, you're going to feel like I put a boot of shame up your asshole.

On an unrelated side note, for those of you wanting to buy Professor LSTC an end-of-school-year gift, I am not a huge fan of anal beads, but I do enjoy a good vibrator video, and I particularly like pornography where the sense of financial desperation and self-loathing is palpable in the young lass who just knows one of her dad's friends is going to jack it to this when the hometown finds out.  It reminds me of the nervous talking that occurs at young alumni events.  God, that shit turns me on.


  1. I really can't accept that argument. I give Professor McElroy a D for that shoddy argument. Yes, it's true that it had to be a Drexel student who first forwarded her demeaning, disgusting mail. But Drexel students had already forfeited their dignity by enrolling in such a pathetic law school.

    So blaming the students one more time won't work. What kind of students did she expect to find at Drexel? She's obviously an informed consumer of employment. She has no one but herself to blame when her own dignity and that of her students starts to converge. Especially since she refuses to work full time at her job, and sees it as an endless source of free time for travel writing and, oh yes, viewing pornography.

  2. Hell hath no fury like a LawProf disrespected (or trivialized, or shamed, or called out...). It's not like these folks don't already have paper-thin egos - you are to bow and scrape at all times, not point and laugh, because Legal Scholars.

  3. If you go to McElroy's personal website, its basically just a vanity project about how great a professor she is, what amazing trips she has been on, what media sources have interviewed her, and the like. She certainly didn't mind looking down her nose at her less preftigious students who weren't "working hard enough," while she humblebrags about her "hard won" opportunities.

    This episode serves her right, as I imagine she had it coming one way or the other. Our Titans of Law are a little bit human, after all.

  4. She wrote an article titled "What Gets Me Through: My Top Ten List," THE SECOND DRAFT: THE BULLETIN OF THE LEGAL WRITING INSTITUTE 16 (2004).

    I don't think we have to read it. Oh. Ooops. There goes my dignity.