Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » June 2004 » As I've always said for years now...

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06/10/2004: As I've always said for years now...

"Alan Dershowitz is a legend in his own mind." I'm glad to see that I'm not apparently the only one who thinks so. U. of Texas law professor Brian Leiter:

"Alan Dershowitz, Professor of Torture"

Here's a fine and well-deserved portrait of Harvard Law School's best-known and least accomplished faculty member. (Folks outside law don't seem to know this, but Dershowitz hasn't made a substantive contribution to legal scholarship in two decades or more. As Richard Posner has noted: "Although he is a professor at Harvard Law School, Dershowitz is not a scholar.")

Despite his affection for torture, by the way, Professor Dershowitz signed the recent Harvard-initiated letter to Congress about abuses at Abu Ghraib, one of several indications that that letter didn't go far enough (and one of several reasons I didn't sign it).
Frankly though, what animus I bear towards Dershowitz has nothing to do with his contributions (or lack thereof) to legal scholarship. My personal view is that "conventional" legal scholarship is a joke--after all, the main professional journals of the legal profession (the law reviews of the various law schools) are edited by fucking law students, for Ghod's sake!!!--apparently the concept of "peer-review" is unknown in legal scholarship (outside of the area of interdisciplinary legal scholarship). As a result (and because I am no longer in law practice), I've not paid attention to legal scholarship in at least 12 years or so (since leaving active law practice). My objection to Dershowitz is how he manages to shamelessly promote himself in the media as the greatest expositor of the law since Hammurabi.

But I suppose that's just a case of "those of you who think you know everything are seriously annoying those of us that do".


Len on 06.10.04 @ 08:35 PM CST


Replies: 2 comments

on Friday, June 11th, 2004 at 12:05 AM CST, bryan@dumka.com">Bryan said

I find Mr. Dershowitz annoying even though I generally agree with the effect of what he is saying regarding the law, the manner in which he arrives at his conclusions is often convoluted, serving no purpose other than to emphasize his familiarity with obscure laws and decisions.

His on screen persona is just annoying. There is a smugness about him that makes one want to punch him out on general principle.

on Friday, June 11th, 2004 at 12:21 AM CST, Brian A. said

It is odd that one year of law school is all one needs to be involved with the profession's journals.

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