******************** THIS BLOG HAS MOVED TO WWW.LEGALINSURRECTION.COM ********************

This blog is moving to www.legalinsurrection.com. If you have not been automatically redirected please click on the link.

NEW COMMENTS will NOT be put through and will NOT be transferred to the new website.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Really Good Advice, Heeded?

I am trying to take this advice, offered by a regular reader, to heart (emphasis mine):
"Professor Jacobson,

A long time ago my grandfather gave me some very good advice I often follow, but not all the time, due to my competitiveness. I am sure you have heard it before and think it bears repeating based on some of the back and forth I have read with regard to the 'charges' against Haley Barbour. I have to admit I have never heard anyone question Mr. Barbour's views towards non-white people before.

'Be careful with who you argue - especially idiots - you run the risk of onlookers mistaking one of 'them' as the reasonable one'.

My work is done here. Carry on."
I understand the point, and it applies with extra force on the internet.  When you put your views out there day in and day out, there will be the inevitable nasty e-mails, sniping by other bloggers, and PhotoShopping.  I agree it is best to ignore all this stuff whenever possible and just move on to the next blog post.

I also have no problem whatsoever when my colleagues respond to my blog posts with reasoned arguments, even if I disagree with those arguments.

But what to do with this comment left at a Matthew Yglesias blog post at Think Progress by newly-minted Assistant Professor Beth Livingston, a specialist in gender and diversity studies, who teaches "Staffing" at the Cornell School of Labor and Industrial Relations, referring to me:
"On behalf of Cornell professors throughout Ithaca, I am ashamed. I promise that we're not all that devoid of logic."
An almost identical comment was made by Prof. Livingston about me over at The Atlantic.

On the one hand, while Prof. Livingston is "ashamed" of me, I am embarrassed for Prof. Livingston that she feels the need to troll blog posts taking hit-and-run potshots at other Cornell faculty.  I also find it humorous that Prof. Livingston has appointed herself the spokeswoman for the Cornell University faculty.

On the other hand, the advice above is sound.  If I engage Prof. Livingston in kind, I might end up looking like the unreasonable person.

So I have a true dilemma here.  I value my readers' advice (even as to that entity whose name cannot be mentioned anymore).

I'm inclined just to ignore it.  Am I right?

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube
Visit the Legal Insurrection Shop on CafePress!
Bookmark and Share


  1. You are right..."Ignore the ignorant".

  2. Ignore it. Dude...Gender and Diversity Studies? Really? Are the Basket Weaving and Advanced Partying course requirements strictly undergrad? Or is the Master's Thesis requirement use these skills.

    Yes, it's snarky, but how have we cheapened the Liberal Arts?

  3. absolutely ignore it. not only does that course of action keep you from descending to the depths of HER ignorance...i guarantee you it will drive her crazy - she's anticipating a prolonged battle of wits in which (in her overstimulated imagination only) she ultimately defeats you with her brilliance. leave it alone...

  4. "a specialist in gender and diversity studies"

    opinions not so much

  5. How much do you make? How much do you think she makes?

    How good are your arguments? How good are her arguments?

    How are your party's political fortunes? How are hers?

    As C. S. Lewis said, "Never taunt a foe, save when they are stronger than you; then, as you wish."

  6. This reminds me of those bitchy-emotionally dysfunctional-females who seem to have never grown beyond 7th grade for some odd reason (they tend to abound in feminists and in women who spend their entire time at the gym or on the tennis court...go figure opposite ends of a spectrum who are exactly alike) The question you want to ask yourself is how old are you and are you an adult? If the answer is yes you are an adult and you have a stable hold on your reality I would ignore it for now. These types always tend to implode upon themselves anyway.Besides they usually also create situations that make it easier at a later date to take that cold slice of revenge.

  7. Professor,
    If I may say, always punch up.
    Be seeing you,

  8. Ignore, ignore, ignore.

    But do send the tasteless Prof. Livingston a link to your post...

  9. Given her background, I'd take her comments as a compliment, myself. I'd be more worried if she agreed with you.

  10. When a warthog calls you ugly, just smile.

  11. "When a warthog calls you ugly, just smile. " yea but I just read thru a whole thread on yglesias, had a coupla drinks, and am tired of talking nice to those folks who are so knowing knowledgeable but just so off target in life.

  12. Ignore her online; but if you see her in person, let her know that you don't appreciate being "called out" by a junior associate in a widely-read publication.

  13. If you engage in an argument and win, what's actually been won?

    If you best a fool, what have you accomplished?

    Now if she takes more direct attacks Alinsky-style (which is probebly pretty unlikely), then enegage only to win, and not to merely defend.

  14. Maybe she thinks that blog trolling will meet publication requirements for tenure? Heck, maybe it does in "gender and diversity studies" these days.

  15. I honestly think it's a very bad idea to ignore Prof Livingston, Yglesias, DeLong, or anyone else who attacks you thusly. "Just ignore it" is the same advice Republicans gave to Robert Bork in 1987 (when Ted Kennedy was trashing his rep), and that didn't work so well for him. I think addressing detractors in a calm, professional, and reasonably firm manner will go a long way toward defending your reputation. Don't let their accusations go unanswered, especially when you have the upper hand!

  16. I would knock on her office door, invite her to lunch and be the most charming you've been your entire life. Then I'd excuse myself to "use the restroom," duck out the back and stick her with the bill. Order lobster.

  17. It is well known that only 20% OF Americans self identify as Liberals. If this is true even fewer still would be what one would consider fringe. Yet this fringe element of the left has a tremendous influence in America due their choke hold on key elements of society media/entertainment and academia.

    While this fringe has been choking the liberty out of the lifeblood of America, freedom loving Americans have sat back with the attitude that these ideological nut jobs could not possibly make serious inroads into the American mainstream. Just ignore them and their failed ideas will become evident and will collapse under the weight of the false premises that they are built upon.

    Yet here we are, a fringe leftist/progressive is President of the United States and the ideological offspring of hippiedom rule the land. How is that ignore them and they'll go away strategy working out?
    Ronald Reagan famously pointed out a truth that Liberty loving Americans better take to heart and quickly:

    "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."

    While these leftist incrementally chip, now chop away at freedom in America, those with the intellectual fire power to combat them-ignore them. The problem with this strategy is that this is a battlefield of ideas and if seeds are not sown then they can not grow.

    The left reached here by subverting our institutions and discouraging us into apathy, Now is the time to quit being defensive and take it to the enemy, and the progressive movement is the enemy of Liberty and Freedom in America. The only way to do this is to go into their strongholds and weaken their grip with the one tool which will always win-the truth. Now is the time to attack the leftist on their own playing fields.



  18. Dear Professor:

    If she posts something with her name on it I would say engage. If she comments negatively on a post that someone else wrote I would ignore the comment and concentrate on the post. Attack the post if it deserves it. I, for one, often totally ignore the comments. In fact most of the time I don't even read comments. I have found myself reading comments on your site - but that is to support you.

  19. The entire ILR school is a joke.

  20. I would ignore Beth. If she is such a respected academic, why does she have to stoop to trolling virtually anonymously? Responding to her would only feed her ego. Besides, I really doubt that many people read blog comments anyway.

    On the other hand, it's important to set the record straight when certain bloggers post attacks. So long as you don't allow yourself to get drawn into a pissing match, posting a response that exposes misstatements, faulty logic and outright lies might be important. And then there is a lot to be said for juxtaposing an adult's grown-up response to a child's scribblings. Sometimes just demonstrating grownupsmanship in a good-humored and entertaining manner trumps argument.

  21. I've seen that liberals on the Internet never argue substantively - they call names and make sweeping assumptions that they firmly believe can never be challenged. A response from you on this blog post would start a silly flame war whereas your ignoring her sends a message that she is not worth your time.

    A separate issue: I have never worked for a company that let me post "on behalf of" that organization - such public posting is strictly prohibited. Only official spokesmen were allowed to make such pronouncements. Does Cornell have such a policy? If so, a discreet mention of it to her in private might be a polite way to remind her of her "place."

  22. @vdavisson:
    A very good point. In fact, for lots of organizations it is unethical/illegal to represent yourself as speaking for the group unless you have the authority, position and a vote to back you up! I was chair of a business improvement district board in good old California and it was impressed on all of us that we could not speak for the board or the organization unless a vote was taken on the issue....or we would violate the Brown Act! The official speaker was the chair and he or she could deliver the results but couldn't run off at the mouth like that professor did!

  23. I think you've already given her too much attention.

  24. There is never a need to respond to ad-hominem attack. The attack itself shows she has no intention of taking you seriously, so why should you do her the favor of taking her seriously enought to respond. Clearly she is indulging in that in a semi-creepy stalker kinda way. Your first instinct is correct: Ignore.

  25. She sounds like a completely indoctrinated moron and my suspicion as to the only reason she is at Cornell...

    My husband, James Huggins, is a self-proclaimed basketball aficionado and NBA junkie. He graduated from Santa Fe Community College in 2006 and the University of Florida in 2008. He is currently Director of Basketball Operations for Cornell's Men's and Women's teams.

    Too stupid to realize her place. I like the recommendations above where she is made aware that she is NOT in a position to speak for all of Cornell.

  26. "On behalf of Cornell professors throughout Ithaca, I am ashamed."

    OK, lady, buck up. What other professors have expressed such shame? Name them. Throwing out useless claims of solidarity only shows that you have allowed your powder to get wet and now you are trying to present a strawman in order to bolster your own lame opinion. So be an adult and name the other "professors" that are in agreement with you.

    Sorry, Professor Livingston, but we still live in a nation where the accused has a right to confront the accusers. So be an adult and name the people who you claim support you. My guess is that NO ONE supports you. You, who teaches such a useless class as "diversity". What is in your future? Women's Studies? Another useless progressive class that does nothing to prepare students for the real world where they have to earn a living.

    So the next time you want to act like the troll under a bridge, be sure to bring your fellow trolls and let them be known.

  27. Post a link to her website. Look there she is, another empty vessel at the Corning Glass museum.

    Most places I've worked at expressly forbid people from even hinting they 'represent' either the company or the workforce.

    Once her antics are made known to your higher-ups, is there nobody at your University who'll slap this claim down? After that, you should be able to sit back and watch from afar.

  28. From your post:

    On the one hand, while Prof. Livingston is "ashamed" of me, I am embarrassed for Prof. Livingston that she feels the need to troll blog posts taking hit-and-run potshots at other Cornell faculty. I also find it humorous that Prof. Livingston has appointed herself the spokeswoman for the Cornell University faculty.

    Oooooh, that had to leave a mark!

    Methinks I heard the sound of a gauntlet whistling swiftly through the winter Ithaca wind, and striking hard some crunchy iced o'er designated "staffing" space in the gender and diversity studies parking lot!

    Conditioned as the sound advice to you was . . . on eschewing the temptation to respond "especially [to] idiots" . . . it seems obvious that Beth Livingston now has no choice but to find some way to respond in kind to you, and likely in some unkind fashion!

    Here's a thought. Why not graciously extend her an opportunity to post her rationale here -- on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion?

    Give her the opportunity to explain in detail exactly why she is ashamed "On behalf of Cornell professors throughout Ithaca . . ." and, also as you noted, what entitles her to speak on behalf of the entire Cornell University faculty? Did she poll them ahead of time, perhaps?

    If she declines . . . whether graciously or otherwise . . . she'll have that mark to bear.

    And that way, you can follow through on your inclination, as you have said, to "just to ignore it."

    But, if she takes up the challenge, many of us will no doubt be pleased as New Year's punch to participate in responding to her . . . ever so kindly, of course!

    Judging from the sheer number of comments in this thread alone, imagine the traffic such a follow-up post might draw?

    Just a thought . . .

  29. I full heartedly agree with poster 'Jer' and by all means make the takedown as intellectually uncomfortable as humanly possible.

    Exercise your literary blogging genius when the moment pronounces itself, wait.

  30. In competitive sports, a foul isn't always called on the instigator of a confrontation. It can be called on the player who retaliates.

    I don't presume to offer advice, but
    I suspect she may try the gender card with the university if you respond "inappropriately", you patriarchal oppressor you. (Two can play the grievance game, but you're not on a level playing field. And is the game worth the candle?)
    Anyway, thanks for your blogging. Happy New Year.

  31. I would report the slanderous ad hominem to the faculty senate. You MIGHT get a reprimand from the body. Even if you don't, the process of her having to defend her remarks would be worth it.