How do Lawyers have Sex?

Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does many things. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (early 2021).

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35 Responses

  1. LeeEsq says:

    Lawyers go through the motions when having sex.Report

  2. LeeEsq says:

    The Title IX complaint against Kipnis is really uncalled for. Kipnis might have made a poor argument but that does not justify a Title IX complaint. The actual process that Kipnis had to submit to was offering because it did not seem to have any due process for her it all.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to LeeEsq says:

      It’s definitely hard to see what it’s supposed to accomplish.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Rufus F. says:

        I think the purpose of the Title IX complaint against Kipnis is to enforce social justice orthodoxy. That is the only reason I can think of. Kipnis’ article went against current bien-pensant orthodoxy on sex and some people decided to punish her for it by filing a Title IX complaint. Even though I agree with bien-pensant orthodoxy on the issue, trying to enforce dissenters this way is uncalled for.Report

        • Rufus F. in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Yeah, I think it would be fairly hard to prove that students felt unsafe coming to class because of her article. Even in the case of the student whose story is told in the story, it’s hard to argue that she does so in a retaliatory way.Report

          • Rufus F. in reply to Rufus F. says:

            I suspect part of it is trying to get the school to fire her, but if she has tenure, it’s hard to see how successful that’ll be.Report

            • Will Truman in reply to Rufus F. says:

              To the extent that it is strategic, it’s to get people not to say what she said. If it wasn’t for the backlashy positive PR, I’d say she’s already lost even when she technically wins. But I think other professors might think that they’d get the headaches without the fame, and others might think it’s not worth it. And other others of course, don’t have tenure to protect them. Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Rufus F. says:

        @rufus-f @leeesq

        I was thinking about this story today and came up with this theory. I think we are seeing a large amount of social justice activism on Campus because it is one of the few areas where the Left is not dealing with mass conservative resistance.

        Income inequality is either the hottest issue of the day or it is a completely wrong thing to talk about depending on your position. I believe income and wealth inequality is real but I am doubtful that anything will be done about the issue soon.

        University education has become like disaster insurance. You will be saved from being destitute but it is not a sure path to the middle class. College tuition keeps going up and up though.

        And then there is police brutality and the continued Republican war on the Social Safety Net.

        All of these problems seem like they can get much much worse before things get better.

        So liberals retreat to clickbait that revolves around a lot of magical thinking (reading this one article will make everyone liberal, yeah right….) or to campus politics where they can have a say.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          @saul-degraw it is an interesting theory. Social justice campaigning on campus, Internet and similar places is one of the few places where people on the Left can score a victory. One reason why Chait and Freddie’s stance on the new political correctness is not popular is because it might be seen as taking one source of potential wins away from the Left. Engaging in social justice warfare is certainly a lot easier than other forms of political activism.Report

          • aaron david in reply to LeeEsq says:

            I would say that Chait and Freddie feel that these are Pyrrhic victories at best.Report

            • LeeEsq in reply to aaron david says:

              I’d be in agreement with them but the current state of real life politics is somewhat frustrating for liberals and leftists for reasons that are kind of hard to fix.Report

              • aaron david in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Well, as someone who became massively disillusioned with the left for essentially agreeing with both Chait and Freddie, I am curious as to what the reasons are and why they can’t be fixed.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to aaron david says:

                I think you misunderstood me. What I meant is that the structure and procedures of American politics, like how House seats are distributed or the Senate itself and every other veto point makes doing substantive legislation a much more difficult task for liberals than conservatives. Liberals turn to these sorts of academic politics because it is one area where they can act.Report

              • greginak in reply to LeeEsq says:

                The current status quo bias in the gov has nothing much to do with this kind of petty adolescent protest. Liberals aren’t one giant connected mass. Kipnes wrote an article she knew would provoke people, which she has a right to do. Surprise, surprise it provoked protests.Report

          • Rufus F. in reply to LeeEsq says:

            I think this has been the case off and on for a while. I remember people tearing each other to shreds back in the 90s about far lesser deviations than this one. I don’t remember the activism being so passive-aggressive before though.Report

    • notme in reply to LeeEsq says:

      What, a law not being used for the right purpose? I am shocked. What is this country coming to?Report

      • Don Zeko in reply to notme says:

        That’ll be the case if the suit is successful. If it gets laughed out of court, it’s just more proof that you can sue anybody at any time for anything. Does any of the other lawyers here feel confident enough on Title IX to say whether this action has any serious odds of success?Report

    • KatherineMW in reply to LeeEsq says:

      That’s my view on the subject as well. Her article was rather dreadfully written, with poor arguments, but she wasn’t harming students by writing it, and she has the right to express her opinion.Report

  3. Heisenberg says:

    It’s worth pointing out that we only have her word on what the allegations are. Maybe we should suspend judgement until we’ve heard the entire story.Report

  4. DavidTC says:

    I see no one’s commented on the rude professor thing, which has very little to do with this.

    Which makes sense, because the problem there, insomuch as there is a problem, was that the university did not follow ‘correct procedure’ for getting rid of someone with tenure.

    The problems with that professor were quite real.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to DavidTC says:

      It was admittedly a stretch to include that. What I was getting at was that there is a push going on in academia to come down on professors who provoke upset in their colleagues by coming across as uncivil or rude or saying things that others find offensive or triggering. Others are more optimistic about the benefits of this. However, my suspicion is that these sorts of complaints will tend to fall more heavily on the group that has the greater social expectation on them to be polite and civil, namely women.Report

      • Women? I thought you meant Canadians.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Rufus F. says:

        ” What I was getting at was that there is a push going on in academia to come down on professors who provoke upset in their colleagues by coming across as uncivil or rude or saying things that others find offensive or triggering. ”

        Not just academia, but society in general. “You said something that caused me to follow a chain of reasoning that made me think about scary stuff” is now considered a valid reason to demand restitution for injury.Report

  5. zic says:

    I think this might be a must read on Kipness’ two posts and the complaint against her.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to zic says:

      Thank you for sharing this!

      I have to say it’s hard to take seriously his argument that the system works because she was exonerated.

      Also, the Daily Nous writer is doing a heck of a lot of twisting in that piece. Rereading Kipnis’s original article, it’s very clear that she’s detailing a fairly recent and highly publicized incident with this professor, who sounds like a scumbag, and an undergrad who he might have groped after they went drinking and art hopping together.

      Kipnis mentions that he sued a former grad student for defamation, who he claims he dated, and that that case was thrown out. That’s her entire mention of what we could call the ‘second case’. She does not address the more serious, although apparently less publicized accusation of rape from the former grad student, which the Daily Nous piece says she’s conflating with the fondling incident. That charge was found unsubstantiated by the investigator, but he was found to have violated the sexual harassment policy.

      I think Kipnis should have addressed it, if she was aware of it, which is hard to tell, given how rushed her original article reads. But it’s a huge stretch to say she’s conflating the two stories, which is probably why the Title IX charge against her from the grad student was thrown out. In fact, I think you have to misread her article to come to that conclusion.

      The most problematic lines I can find in the two paragraphs of her piece that are in question are these ones:

      “He sued local media outlets for using the word “rape” as a synonym for sexual assault—a complaint thrown out by a different judge who said rape was an accurate enough summary of the charges, even though the assault was confined to fondling, which the professor denies occurred.”

      The problem with calling that conflating the two cases is that he probably is suing the media outlets for using the word “rape” in their coverage of the first case, regardless of the fact that he actually has been accused of rape in the second less publicized case. So, what Kipnis is saying there is accurate. Moreover, even an average reader can tell from the two paragraphs of her essay which case Kipnis is then referring to as “melodrama”, namely the first groping case, which is a somewhat offensive opinion on Kipnis’s part, but becomes much more so if you completely misread those two paragraphs, as did the Daily Nous writer, who says Kipnis is accusing the grad student of “melodrama”, “derailing his career” and so forth.

      So, I think she was wrong for brushing over the grad student’s complaint, which she doesn’t even seem to have read up on, but I think it’s a fairly lousy reading to argue that her two paragraphs on the undergrad complaint are really aimed at the grad student either intentionally or somehow unintentionally. And to go from that misreading to a retaliation Title IX claim is… well, I think it was rightly thrown out.Report

      • zic in reply to Rufus F. says:

        This is Kipnis, in her original piece:

        The aftermath has been a score of back-and-forth lawsuits. After trying to get a financial settlement from the professor, the student filed a Title IX suit against the university: She wants her tuition reimbursed, compensation for emotional distress, and other damages. Because the professor wasn’t terminated, when she runs into him it triggers her PTSD, she says. (The university claims that it appropriately sanctioned the professor, denying him a raise and a named chair.) She’s also suing the professor for gender violence. He sued the university for gender discrimination (he says he wasn’t allowed to present evidence disproving the student’s allegations)—this suit was thrown out; so was the student’s lawsuit against the university. The professor sued for defamation various colleagues, administrators, and a former grad student whom, according to his complaint, he had previously dated; a judge dismissed those suits this month. He sued local media outlets for using the word “rape” as a synonym for sexual assault—a complaint thrown out by a different judge who said rape was an accurate enough summary of the charges, even though the assault was confined to fondling, which the professor denies occurred. (This professor isn’t someone I know or have met, by the way.)

        So we don’t know from this which complaint she’s discussing with the radio station; she doesn’t know; and she says ‘fondling,’ (the undergrad complaint,) but if it’s the grad student’s complaint, that was for rape, not fondling. You say it was the grad student; yet Kipnis’ writes about the undergrad. It’s unclear when and if that grad student’s complaint was resolved, but if it was still in process and it was me, I’d have filed a complaint against her, too.

        One of the links in the piece I linked makes it pretty clear that Kipnis conflated the two, and this suggests the Professor Ludlow’s actions, which Kipnis is defending, isn’t about free speech so much as about salvaging something out of a career trashed by not following the school’s rules about dating students.

        She got it wrong, when it was pointed out, she refused to correct her record, and when that had consequences, she doubled down and got it wrong again by making it all about her.

        I got no sympathy. None.Report

        • Rufus F. in reply to zic says:

          Well, the grad student’s complaint with the university was found unsubstantiated by the independent investigator, who did find the prof in violation of the sexual harassment policy for dating a grad student. The HuffPo writer says it’s unclear how he could have been found guilty of harassment if it was a consensual relationship like he claims; but of course it is clear- he was a prof and she was a grad student and the university found that sort of relationship goes against their harassment policy. Those findings were, for some reason, distributed among the faculty, so he sued the department head, the grad student, and the independent investigator. Those suits were dropped by the time of the Kipnis article.

          I don’t understand how the HuffPo article makes it clear she conflated the two either. The writer criticizes Kipnis, rightly I think, for bringing up his suit against the grad student without mentioning that she had first filed a complaint against him that was unrelated to that of the undergrad and that it was only he who claimed they had dated. I think she’s claiming the Title IX complaint against her is a free speech issue, not the complaints about Ludlow, which seem clearly to do with his behavior. The HP article also criticizes Kipnis for characterizing the undergrad’s two lawsuits as “several” when they were two and claiming all had been dropped, when one of two has.

          Those points were corrected by the Chronicle and not by Kipnis, which makes her look bad. Filing a frivolous Title IX complaint about her, meanwhile, made her critics look bad. I don’t really think these posts help their case much- they highlight Kipnis’s failings, but not to the point that the Title IX complaint sounds justified. At least, not to me. But, I’m going to guess that, outside of certain pockets of academia, that will be a common reading.Report