The September Statement (Guest Post by Simon Cabulea May)


Simon Cabulea May is assistant professor of philosophy at Florida State University. He works on a variety of topics in political philosophy. He is also the creator of the group political philosophy blog, Public Reason. In the guest post*, below, May explains why he thinks philosophers should sign the “September Statement“, declaring in light of recent events their refusal to participate in or cooperate with the Philosophical Gourmet Report while it is under the control of Brian Leiter.


The September Statement

In the last few days, I have urged the philosophers I know to sign the “September Statement.” This statement calls for Prof. Brian Leiter’s resignation as editor of the Philosophical Gourmet Report (PGR). The September Statement is occasioned by Prof. Leiter’s recent hostile behaviour towards Prof. Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins, but has been accompanied by a separate list of “Recent Events Involving Brian Leiter,” which details further allegations of hostile behaviour towards a number of other (mostly female) philosophers. In what follows, I would like to explain to a broader audience why I make this call and why I do not think it is an issue about which members of the philosophical community can remain neutral. In essence, the question is forced: you either stand in favour or you stand against. I have six points.

1. The September Statement is not an attack on Prof. Leiter’s moral character or on the PGR.
At the outset, I would like to make clear that I greatly respect Prof. Leiter as a philosopher in his own right, as a singularly valuable member of the philosophical community, and as a force for good in academia more generally. I concur entirely with both the tone and content of, for instance, his recent criticism of UIUC’s despicable de-tenuring of Prof. Steven Salaita. I regularly use his work when I teach Philosophy of Law, and I have personally benefitted from his advice and assistance on a number of occasions, as have very many of my students. I also admire his forthright commitment to philosophical quality regardless of polite social niceties—we might all write with a few hammers in our toolkits, and be ashamed if fear of opprobrium should compromise our rejection of flagrant error and wanton idiocy. Moreover, as a South African, I have an especial appreciation for how the PGR provides essential information to foreign students that American students often seem to take for granted. I could not care less for the relative advantages or disadvantages of the PGR within the United States if these are outweighed by the value it provides prospective graduate students from the Global South. We do not all somehow intuitively know that Rutgers and Michigan are great departments, for example, or that Arizona is at the forefront of work in political philosophy. Nevertheless, I cannot regard the particular behaviour detailed in the September Statement and the Recent Events list as anything other than abysmal and utterly unacceptable. I do not wish to argue this point here. If you do not think there is even a prima facie problem, then stop reading.

2. The current issue cannot be divorced from that regarding the climate for women in philosophy.
For the last few years, philosophers have tried to understand and remedy the unusually poor climate for women in the discipline. A number of interpretations have been proposed, some more plausible than others. I do not think that male philosophers are any more sexist than other members of the academy or that philosophy is somehow an inherently masculine enterprise, whatever that might mean: a good argument is a good argument is a good argument. Nevertheless, many familiar vices of sexism—intolerance, obsessiveness, and competitiveness—can thrive disguised within appeals to the virtues of philosophy—truth, precision, and cogency. This should give us pause. What may begin as a pugnacious dialectic may end up only as pugilistic diatribe. Our laudable aspirations as philosophers may be all-too-easily overtaken by our all-too-human flaws as scions of an iniquitous society. In this regard, it is impossible to overlook that so many women feature prominently amongst Prof. Leiter’s recent targets. Once again, this is not a question about his moral character—there is no suggestion of implicit misogyny here. But character is beside the point. The point, rather, is the effect of the contumely. Were it philosophical propositions at stake, that would be understandable. But Prof. Leiter’s assertions have been extraordinarily ad hominem: that one female philosopher is a “sanctimonious asshole,” another “singularly unhinged,” still another a “disgrace,” and so on. This is not philosophy—it is not honesty, nor argument, nor insight—it is mere table-banging and chest-thumping. I oppose it unreservedly, and so urge my fellow philosophers to join in the call for Prof. Leiter’s resignation as editor of the PGR. We should be cold and ruthless towards all wellsprings of inequity in our discipline, whatever their location.

In what follows I consider four arguments I have encountered in the last few days against the September Statement.

3. It does not matter that the PGR is not itself the vehicle of hostility.
The first argument is that whatever the moral merits of Prof. Leiter’s behaviour on his blog, on Twitter, or through email, his management of the PGR is a quite separate matter—unless and until it is shown that the ranking system itself is compromised by Prof. Leiter’s aggressive internet persona, no objection should be raised against his editorship of the PGR.

I reject this argument because it is impossible to separate Prof. Leiter’s editorship of the PGR from the potency of his hostility towards other philosophers. The point is not that Prof. Leiter has power to silence his critics because he might manipulate any particular department’s standing in the rankings. Rather, the point is that Prof. Leiter’s status as the editor of the de facto or quasi-official rankings of philosophy departments indicates the community’s endorsement of his behaviour as within the bounds of acceptability. It is this endorsement that is the problem and this endorsement that must be repudiated. As things stand, as uncontested PGR editor, Prof. Leiter has relatively free rein to act in as belligerent a manner as he might wish towards any member of the community. The mere knowledge that he is very safely embedded in a social network of esteem and approval, and that he has an unparalleled ability to dictate the content of discourse about the profession, inhibits public assertion of anything likely to raise his ire. It is an unpleasant, unfortunate, and embarrassing fact that a great many truth-seeking philosophers would be far more willing to engage in disputation about the profession were it not for the fear that they might thereby find themselves subject to the insuperable contempt of the community’s loudest and most relentless champion of Millian mud and bluster. This is not a healthy state of affairs. There is very little that ordinary philosophers can do to remedy the situation other than pledge to repudiate any honorary status that might express the community’s toleration of the treatment meted out to Prof. Jenkins and others. This treatment either comes with the imprimatur of the community or it does not. If it does, then we are beyond redemption. If it does not, then we must say so, without pause, in the only meaningful way available to us. Because to tolerate is not to approve someone’s behaviour or to refrain from its criticism. To tolerate, rather, is to allow someone to behave with impunity, to accept that whatever wrong they might do, no sanction will be offered. All the heartfelt tut-tuts of all the philosophers in all the world will mean absolutely nothing if absolutely nothing of consequence results. In essence, it is time for us to put up or shut up.

4.  It does not matter who created the PGR.
The second argument is that the PGR is Prof. Leiter’s creation and the fruit of his labour. To require him to stand down from its management is in effect to deprive him of his intellectual property.

I regard this argument as utterly nonsensical. Certainly, Prof. Leiter is owed a great deal of gratitude for his tireless efforts in providing this public service. But the PGR is not a thing to be owned. The present proposal is not to deprive Prof. Leiter of his entitlement to an internet page or of revenue from any source. The PGR has value as a practice, as a social convention ultimately constituted by members of the profession as a whole. Our withdrawal from participation in the PGR does not deprive Prof. Leiter of his property beyond depriving the profession of an established way of understanding itself. That this stance of non-cooperation is warranted by Prof. Leiter’s behaviour is the claim in question—it is not a stance that is undermined by any account of the sweat that has steadily dripped from his brow over the years. The future direction of the PGR is about us, not him.

5. It does not matter whether the PGR is accurate.
The third argument states that the PGR is unobjectionable because it is relatively accurate (and that Prof. Leiter has taken many steps to improve its accuracy since its creation).

I am not sure whether the premise of this argument is correct. There are a number of methodological objections to the PGR that strike me as plausible. Some of these (in particular the problem of snowball sampling) are detailed in Zachary Ernst’s paper, “Our Naked Emperor.” I hope that in the next few weeks, more knowledgeable people than me might sort through the various statistical problems that a reputational survey such as the PGR presents. But the premise of the argument is beside the point—what if the PGR is entirely accurate? Unless Prof. Leiter is himself the magic ingredient that somehow ensures this accuracy, nothing at all follows about whether the community of philosophers ought to accept his management of the project.

6. It does not matter whether signing the September Statement would be an “empty gesture.”
The fourth argument is that signing the September Statement is an empty gesture for those who are unlikely to be asked to participate in PGR surveys—declining to perform a service one is not asked to perform is a hollow and meaningless protest.

I do not accept this argument. In effect, it limits the right to carry pitchforks to those who have no need for pitchforks. What matters is not that the commitment to non-cooperation might somehow make the PGR survey impracticable. Rather, what matters it that mass non-cooperation expresses the community’s intolerance for the behaviour in question. The point is not to send a message to Prof. Leiter himself—he is well aware of the many objections that have been raised. Instead, the point is to send a message to every person who, for whatever reason, finds herself vulnerable within a profession supposedly dedicated to impersonal truth. Either such a person can trust that the members of the community will vouchsafe her right to pursue truth as she sees appropriate, or she cannot. If so, then it is incumbent on us that we not tolerate any abuse of power that might suppress her inquiry. If not, then no competing Millian argument can have any force.

I am aware that this is, at the end of the day, an extraordinarily petty squabble between highly-privileged First World academics. Many years ago, I was an activist in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Were this a similar revolutionary context, there is no philosopher I would rather have alongside me in the trenches than Brian Leiter. Nevertheless, were he my comrade in some such struggle, I would be bound to tell him that, in this matter, he has become a liability to the cause of the Good and the True, and that it now behoves him to abdicate his position. We need to keep our focus on what matters. The current imbroglio concerns far more than the interests or stature of any individual—it goes to the quality of our practice as philosophers and to the sincerity of our common moral commitments.

Simon Cabulea May

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Ole Koksvik
7 years ago

Hear hear!Report

gregory pappas
gregory pappas
Reply to  Ole Koksvik
7 years ago

Yes, “we need to keep our focus on what matters”. Yes, information to prospective graduate students is important. Yes, having a sense of
better/worst departments in some regards and in some areas can be useful to a prospective student. But from this, it does not follow, it is not obvious, that we need a numerical RANKING of the sort provided by PGR (assuming that the PGR is not a biased and ideological tool to impose some overall narrow view of what is good/bad philosophy or a tool to perpetuate “professionalism” in philosophy).Report

Rachel
Rachel
7 years ago

“I also admire his forthright commitment to philosophical quality regardless of polite social niceties—we might all write with a few hammers in our toolkits, and be ashamed if fear of opprobrium should compromise our rejection of flagrant error and wanton idiocy.”

I can’t agree with this, at least without some clarification. Most (if not all) of the attacks you reference happened precisely because Leiter took himself to be following this advice: calling out what he took to be “flagrant error and wanton idiocy.” So I’m concerned that you simultaneously denounce that behaviour and hold it up as laudable.Report

Patrick Mayer
Patrick Mayer
Reply to  Rachel
7 years ago

He didn’t write ‘all be ashamed if fear of opprobrium should compromise our rejection of what Brian Leiter thinks is flagrant error and wanton idiocy’. That Leiter might describe what he was doing as fighting flagrant error and wanton is consistent with Leiter’s being wrong about that and therefore with May’s denouncing Leiter’s behavior to people like Jennings, but lauding it when it comes to the UIUC administrators.
I know this seems like an overly simple point, but I don’t see why your response isn’t a very simple mistake. Of course May has not given advice which will guide people like Leiter without error, since Leiter can be (and often is) mistaken about what deserves extreme castigation, but so what? May just says that sometimes the kind of language Leiter uses is appropriate. Remember when Leiter Reports was very much out front on attacking the Iraq War? Paul Wolfowitz deserved to be called mean names. I see no reason to treat what Leiter has said and did (the threats of legal action seem to me the worse part of this) to Jennings and others as in the same boat as calling killers and religious fanatics nasty names.Report

Patrick Mayer
Patrick Mayer
Reply to  Patrick Mayer
7 years ago

I suppose I should read the whole thread before replying, since someone else responded to you farther down, prompting you to give further reasons for your view. So let me withdraw the claim that your mistake seems simple to me, though your view still strikes me as mistaken.Report

Anon Grad
Anon Grad
7 years ago

“Rather, the point is that Prof. Leiter’s status as the editor of the de facto or quasi-official rankings of philosophy departments indicates the community’s endorsement of his behaviour as within the bounds of acceptability.”

I think recent events have incited a whole deal of superfluous huffing and puffing as to the finer points for and against Leiter’s removal. The issue is at base is really reducible to this one sentence. He is afforded a very significant position of disciplinary authority and power, misuse of which – to bully, threaten and belittle – is alone warrant for those enabling and subject to which to withdraw their support. To do otherwise – to facilitate this activity – hardly reflects well on the field.

I’m also wary as to the, professionally very understandable, strategic civility assumed by most critical posters: ‘not to impugn Leiter’s *moral character*, but he should step down’. I take it as obvious that, even if not particularly representative of his wider behaviour, Leiter’s bullying is flat-out wrong, and should be called out as such.Report

magicalersatz
magicalersatz
Reply to  Anon Grad
7 years ago

Anon grad, I really get what you’re saying with this: “I’m also wary as to the, professionally very understandable, strategic civility assumed by most critical posters: ‘not to impugn Leiter’s *moral character*, but he should step down’. I take it as obvious that, even if not particularly representative of his wider behaviour, Leiter’s bullying is flat-out wrong, and should be called out as such.”

But I think we can agree that Leiter’s bullying is just flat-out wrong, and call it out as such, without even trying to have a conversation about his moral character. The latter issue is a lot more complicated, and may end up being derailing from the main issue most of us care about – which is Leiter’s actions (i.e., his bullying). Personally, I find Jay Smooth’s discussion of ‘you are racist/what you said was racist’ really instructive for these kind of situations:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0Ti-gkJiXcReport

Another Anon Grad Student
Another Anon Grad Student
7 years ago

First off, this is a very nice post. But I have to agree with the first anonymous grad student. Certainly Prof. Leiter is an advocate for many good causes, a good mentor, a good professor, and all the rest. But these facts (a) say nothing about the appropriateness of the behavior in question, and (b) don’t prevent those actions from reflecting on his character. I don’t think we should chase Brian Leiter out of the profession, but we shouldn’t say his “intemperance” says nothing about him as a person. Let’s allow people to judge his behavior for themselves, and not make excuses for him.Report

Anon
Anon
7 years ago

Thanks for this. It’s one of the most thoughtful and satisfying responses I’ve read. I must admit I’ve sometimes found both sides of the conflict disappointing and saddening, if not in equal measure. But this post seems to get the balance right.

Rachel,

My impression was that section 2 was meant as clarification of that distinction:

“Were it philosophical propositions at stake, that would be understandable. But Prof. Leiter’s assertions have been extraordinarily ad hominem: that one female philosopher is a “sanctimonious asshole,” another “singularly unhinged,” still another a “disgrace,” and so on. This is not philosophy—it is not honesty, nor argument, nor insight—it is mere table-banging and chest-thumping.”

If that’s right, then the difference is principally that it’s appropriate to reject “flagrant error and wanton error” in philosophical claims and with philosophical arguments, which wasn’t the case here.Report

Rachel
Rachel
Reply to  Anon
7 years ago

The criticism is that holding up that “we might all write with a few hammers in our toolkits, and be ashamed if fear of opprobrium should compromise our rejection of flagrant error and wanton idiocy” while admonishing Leiter for *doing that very thing* (at least in Leiter’s mind) is a deep problem. It indicates to me that perhaps Simon doesn’t recognize that it’s partly *because* of this way of thinking, that Leiter has attacked people as he has. This is exactly what Leiter took himself to be doing: merely calling out and rejecting “flagrant error and wanton idiocy.”

Moreover, this is just a bad way of thinking, period. The stakes of being wrong in such cases is generally very high, particularly when coming from someone such as Leiter. So the evidence required for being right about one’s targets is very high (shocker, I’m a contextualist here). And I suspect that Leiter is never in that position.

Now there will be an objection based on, for example, my behaviour calling people out for engaging what I take to be oppressive behaviour. Yes, but the two cases are not analogous. The stakes are drastically lower when someone is working from an anti-oppression framework, calling out what they take to be oppressive behaviour. The evidential standards in that context are low enough such that one is much more able to know that one is right in calling out the problematic behaviour. Also, the effects of doing so wrongly are drastically so much lower, that this makes an important difference.Report

Anon
Anon
Reply to  Rachel
7 years ago

Let me get this straight: the ‘stakes of being wrong’ are much higher when, say, I’m accusing you of using a poorly thought-out research methodology for a survey you made than when I’m accusing you of being a racist, sexist, or bigot of some other kind? In fact, the latter are ‘drastically lower’ than the former? Really?!

It’s really hard not to read the upshot of this comment as being ‘It’s always wrong to be strident in your criticism–unless you do it in favor of the political causes that I support!’Report

Anon Postdoc
Anon Postdoc
Reply to  Rachel
7 years ago

Rachel, I can see why the probability of bring correct in calling someone out would be higher conditional on an anti-oppression framework. I can also understand why the value of correctly calling someone out would be higher according to that framework. What I have trouble seeing is why the stakes associated with incorrectly calling someone out would be “drastically lower” on that framework. This is really just Anon’s pt restated. Additionally, is your claim really that the stakes are lower when someone is working from an anti-oppression framework, or is it the more modest claim that the stakes are lower according to an anti-oppression framework?Report

Rachel
Rachel
Reply to  Anon Postdoc
7 years ago

I’m talking specifically about Leiter from his position of power and privilege saying, for example, that a young woman philosopher should leave the discipline because she’s a danger to academic freedom compared to, say, someone calling out language for being racist or sexist. The cases are not analogous. I gave some reasons why.Report

Anon
Anon
Reply to  Anon Postdoc
7 years ago

Rachel,

You’re right that these cases aren’t analogous, but the disanalogy has nothing to do with the fact that one of them comes from an ‘anti-oppression framework’. The relevant differences in the examples you cite are that (a) one targets a person, the other only ‘language’, and (b) that the one aims (at least in part) to disparage someone’s reputation, while the other (apparently) does not.

But now compare: ‘you’re a danger to academic freedom and should leave the profession’ and ‘you’re a misogynist/homophobe/racist and should leave the profession.’ Does one really need ‘drastically’ less evidence to be epistemically justified in making the latter claim? And are the harms associated with making a false accusation less in the latter? Neither seems at all plausible to me.

Or, to put the same point differently. Suppose someone says ‘You’re a danger to [the] academic freedom [of oppressed group X] and should leave the profession’. Does the addition of the extra clause ‘dramatically’ decrease the level of evidence one needs? I don’t see why it decreases it even a little bit.Report

Anon Postdoc
Anon Postdoc
Reply to  Anon Postdoc
7 years ago

Rachel, I see that you gave some reasons why. My comment was addressed to those reasons. I want to know whether you are making the stronger claim that the fact that you are working from a certain framework makes it the case that stakes of being wrong in your accusations of racism, etc. are low; or the weaker claim that, according to the framework you’re working from, the stakes of your being wrong are low. I was also registering my doubts about even the weaker claim. Perhaps I don’t know what you mean by an “anti-oppression” framework, but I just have trouble seeing why the correctness of such a framework would support the claim that the stakes of someone being wrongly accused of racism, etc. are low.Report

anon
anon
Reply to  Rachel
7 years ago

But he isn’t “admonishing Leiter for doing that very thing”, since he identifies the good kind of “hammering” as philosophical criticism of philosophical claims, then specifies that Leiter’s bad kind of “hammering” is philosophical in neither form nor target. We can disagree about whether it’s a sound distinction, but May is being consistent in his views.

I agree that *in Leiter’s mind*, that’s what Leiter believes he’s doing, but that’s not an objection to May’s view, but to Leiter’s lack of discernment about the distinction May has proposed between good and bad forms of harsh criticism.

I also agree that this kind of thinking (that there’s a good kind of “hammer” criticism to be encouraged) could plausibly make one more disposed to bad behavior. Maybe we’re better erring on the side of caution.

But I don’t think that shows the distinction is false. I could be both be right that there’s a good kind of hammer criticism, and be more disposed by this belief toward the bad kind. But I still think it’s misleading to imply that May in this point shares Leiter’s way of thinking (“this way of thinking”). Rather it may be easy to slide from one to the other.

On the issues of the stakes being high: wouldn’t May agree with you about Leiter’s particular behavior here? On the other hand, is it obviously true that in the good kind of severe criticism he approves, where the target is entirely philosophical and *not directed at the person* (he emphasizes the ad hominem nature of Leiter’s comments), the stakes are equally high?Report

Dale Miller
Dale Miller
Reply to  Rachel
7 years ago

I don’t think I’d be crazy about seeing a situation develop in which a philosopher in a position of power began denigrating relatively powerless graduate students and assistant professors as people or as philosophers because, in her judgment, their language was sexist, racist, ableist, etc.Report

Richard Heck
Richard Heck
7 years ago

Thanks very much, Simon. I agree with *almost* everything you say. My own view, though, is that demanding that Leiter step down is not just an expression of our moral outrage but is a practical attempt to remove one source of the power that allows him to behave in such ways with impunity. (You do kind of make this point but then seem to take it back.) And, for that same reason, I am personally boycotting Leiter’s blog as well, since I believe that is an even greater source of his power. I understand that Leiter has done some good things there, but he has also done extremely questionable things there, and our treating his blog as if it is the paper of record in the philosophical world is a large part of what allows him to intimidate people into silence. You go there to see what he has to say about Salaita and you get something else, too.Report

PC
PC
Reply to  Richard Heck
7 years ago

I, too, support a boycott of Leiter’s blog. If we are confronting behavior that demeans and silences members of the profession, we must confront those mechanisms that have enabled this behavior to occur without significance consequence. Patronizing Leiter’s blog constitutes implicit endorsement of his actions in an even clearer way than supporting the PGR, insofar as the blog as serves as a platform for the sort of behavior that the Statement of Concern is addressing.

While I admire Leiter’s ardent support of Salaita, we shouldn’t harbor any illusions that there are ample means of following Salaita’s situation and supporting him other than frequenting Leiter’s blog.Report

Richard Heck
Richard Heck
Reply to  PC
7 years ago

And one might add that, since Leiter (uniquely in the philosophical blogging world, so far as i know) sells advertising on his blog, visiting it *literally* supports him (unless he gives all the money to charity, which I would have thought he would have said, were it true).Report

Marcus
Marcus
7 years ago

Kudos to Daily Nous for these last three posts.Report

Slightly Puzzled
Slightly Puzzled
7 years ago

No fan of the Gourmet report. Frankly, I wouldn’t care one whit if the report just went away. The guy is definitely pugnacious in the extreme. I have never cooperated with the PGR and probably wouldn’t if asked. But I have to say I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Maybe I haven’t been paying enough attention. He called someone that the thought (rightly or wrongly) was a sanctimonious asshole a sanctimonious asshole. And apparently he threatened some kind of legal action for attacks on him that he wrongly or rightly took to be defamatory. Was his sin to have believed that of the relevant person or was his sin to have said what he thought? If I’m following this the person he called that bad bad word is a tenured full professor at a university distinct from his. He has no evident power over her. So what’s the big deal, exactly? Or was his terrible sin to wrongly accuse someone of defamation? And was it defamation?

I guess philosophers who don’t play nice with other philosophers who they don’t respect should be shunned or something. Cause no philosopher should ever think and speak badly of another — not even in private emails. Is that it?

It seems to me that some are endowing Mr. Leiter with a power he doesn’t have. Maybe that’s the problem. So many fear him because they think he is the maker or breaker of reputations, perhaps. Seriously?Report

Jeremy Snyder
7 years ago

I do have a question about how wide participation in the statement is meant to be. I am trained as a philosopher and working in applied ethics but outside of a philosophy department. I asked that my name be added to the statement but it was not.Report

More than Slightly Puzzled
More than Slightly Puzzled
7 years ago

I’m with Slightly Puzzled. There’s a long history of philosophers calling each other names (see, for instance, McGinn-Honderich). There’s also a history of philosophers calling non-philosophers names. This is often childish, no doubt, but I don’t recall any past instances of the philosophical “community” demanding a pound of flesh for it.Report

jason
Reply to  More than Slightly Puzzled
7 years ago

So, I’m puzzled by all the puzzledness here. Of course Leiter is powerful. He is powerful because he is seen by very, very many people — within the profession and outside of it — as someone who has their finger on the pulse of the profession. (Witness the way e.g. CHE consults him on pretty much any issue in academic philosophy that they report on.) He is seen this way because he is seen, in light of his management of the PGR, as sitting at the center of a complex web of informants; and his statements are often seen to have the weight of the PGR behind them. Maybe — probably — this is all illusion. But the illusion itself can be very powerful.

Consider some examples. Example One: Professor McX, an expert in Y-ology, is hired by School Z. When reporting on the move, Leiter may, or may not, add “This is a significant move for School Z, and will likely improve their rankings in Y-ology by two or three points.” Hypothesis: If Leiter includes this readers will take notice, including readers at super-fancy schools with deep pockets, and McX’s future chances at getting job offers from deep-pocketed schools (one of the few ways to get a raise in these tight times) go significantly up. If not, not. (And maybe even go down, thanks to the conspicuous absence of the rider.) It doesn’t even matter if Hypothesis is true; so long as McX has good reason to think it’s true, McX has good reason to want Leiter to add this rider. And if McX can be reasonably concerned that by getting on Leiter’s bad side he would lose any chance of such a rider, he’s going to be very worried about getting on Leiter’s bad side.

Example Two: Wyman works at a school that is in, say, the bottom 25 of the PGR, but with an administration and colleagues who very much want to bring it up. A number of colleagues believe that Leiter, by virtue of his editorship on the PGR, can do subtle things that will hurt someone’s rankings. (Inviting as reviewers more people who dislike the department and work done there than those who like it, etc.) And they believe that Leiter would exercise this power if the department has people on it who get on his bad side. If Wyman gets on his bad side, then they can make Wyman’s professional life very uncomfortable indeed.

Again, Leiter doesn’t need to have any of the direct power ascribed to him by individuals in these examples to make McX’s or Wyman’s lives uncomfortable. It only matters that he is perceived to have these powers.

And of course, in real life, few people think of Leiter having these PRG-related powers so explicitly. But I think it’s a bit panglossian to pretend that there is no general perception of some kind of power or another — a kind of power-over-prestige, the details of which are never clearly articulated in anyone’s mind — that the man has. And that general perception gives rise to a different kind of real power, because A can make B miserable so long as enough people hanging around B believe that A has the power to make their lives miserable, too.

Finally: I don’t think anyone’s demanding a ‘pound of flesh’. This isn’t about punishing Leiter, or revenge, or anything like that (and I would have thought that the OP should have made that clear).

I’ll put it from my own perspective: I think it’s wrong that anyone have the kind of social/professional power Leiter in fact has. It is unjust to the profession, which should not function at the pleasure of any one individual, and it is unjust to the individual, who gains a greater capacity to harm and thus a higher level of responsibility. The situation is even worse when the individual acts in the ways documented here and elsewhere. Signing the statement is, to my knowledge, the only material way I have to help rectify this unjust situation.Report

billwringe
billwringe
Reply to  jason
7 years ago

There’s also the threats of legal action against people whose view of the philosophy profession differs from his own.

Even if such lawsuits would have little chance of succeeding, they’d still be time-consuming stressful and expensive to fight.

So it’s not just a matter of name-calling.

(Curiously, as far as I can see, there’s no mention of the threats of legal action in the CHE article. Does anyone know why?)Report

Jennifer Frey
7 years ago

At the risk of sounding like a broken record: The “fuss” is about Prof. Leiter repeatedly threatening, intimidating, and retaliating against other professors when they say or do things he doesn’t like. To be more specific, he has threatened lawsuits (on no grounds) against two female professors (though, his threats are hardly limited to these) and this is now a matter of public record. This isn’t just a bunch of pearl clutching goody two shoes rushing for their fainting couches at a brusque New Yorker who “calls it like he sees it.” This is about abuse of institutional power and attempts to frighten and silence other professionals; Brian Leiter has used his law degree as a license to threat and intimidate. That’s a fact. Moreover, there is no collective call for heads to roll, for anyone to lose their job, for Brian Leiter to stop blogging, or for Brian Leiter to be reprimanded in any way by his institution of employment. Moreover, this isn’t about free speech, no matter what anyone says. Insofar as any collective action has been taken, it is the drafting of a statement that says we will no longer render services to the PGR so long as Prof. Leiter is the head of it, since Leiter has used his authority as editor of the PGR to threaten, bully and intimidate his peers. This all strikes me as fairly mild action, frankly. There has been talk of “another letter” but since it hasn’t materialized, I have nothing to say about it.

I don’t think abusing one’s institutional power is a small thing, a minor infraction. But we can debate that. Certainly, I see no evidence of an irrational cyber mob out to shame anyone that has “gone to extremes.” If anything I’ve written is extreme, I’d sure like to hear how and why. People have, in different forums, quite rationally expressed concern about what is a pattern of behavior that is problematic on many levels, and have sought to divest themselves from the PGR for the time being as an expression of that concern. Any attempts to make it seem otherwise are worse than hyperbole; they are disingenuous. Also disingenuous are certain attempts to make Leiter seem justified for threatening Prof. Jenkins. He was not justified, and he had no legal case against her. You can’t sue someone for saying that they’d like to hold themselves to a high standard of professional conduct on a blog, and Prof. Leiter knows that as well as anyone.

Precisely because this isn’t an actively controlled smear campaign run by jealous enemies of Prof. Leiter, it can be hard to sort out all the various comments that have appeared online; this is related to the fact that, as of yet, there is no central message apart from the September Statement. I signed that statement, and I hope others will follow.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Jennifer Frey
7 years ago

“You can’t sue someone for saying that they’d like to hold themselves to a high standard of professional conduct.”

I didn’t think that was what Professor Leiter threatened to sue over. Didn’t he say rather that if he personally was called unprofessional, then he’d sue? (That was my reading of the “I’d like to know what to expect” clause in his email to Professor Jenkins.)Report

More than Slightly Puzzled
More than Slightly Puzzled
Reply to  Jennifer Frey
7 years ago

Perhaps I’m being dense, but I just don’t see the abuse of institutional power to which you refer. I don’t see how he has used his authority as editor of the PGR to threaten, etc. His name calling is childish and the legal threats are probably without merit, but he’s not doing anything that you or I couldn’t do. To make your case you’d need examples of him skewing the PGR to punish his enemies. And I haven’t seen evidence of that. All I see is a pattern of ill-mannered prickliness. Clearly he dislikes some members of our profession, and, unlike most of us, he’s wiling to name names. And he has a loud megaphone. I can see how that would rankle some people. But I just don’t see a case here for stripping him of something that’s essentially his own creation and which he appears to administer with integrity.Report

grad student
grad student
Reply to  More than Slightly Puzzled
7 years ago

The lawsuits are not probably without merit, they are definitely without merit. Leiter is thus either ignorant about when a claim of defamation has merit, or (more likely) he is aware of when it does, and is using such threats to intimidate and silence his opponents. And, to circle round to the PGR, the fact that he is doing so while he is the respected editor of an influential and respected (descriptively) ranking system is not irrelevant. It means he is abusing the authority he has in the philosophy community to intimidate and silence other philosophers. Leiter is exquisitely sensitive about the things that others say about him, or that he merely thinks others say about him. But his words carry disproportionate authority, and yet he throws them around. His words can damage people’s reputations and hurt their careers, precisely because he is treated as an authority in the philosophy community. The PGR is his creation, he if he has used his authority as its creator to do immoral things, it would be better that he disassociate himself from the PGR.Report

Anon
Anon
Reply to  grad student
7 years ago

It’s true that Leiter has some level of power because he edits the PGR, and it’s true that, to the extent that he is ‘intimidating and silencing other philosophers’, he’s abusing power he has. But it doesn’t follow that the former and the latter power are the same. The purported reason its scary to be on his bad side is that he might ruin one’s reputation. But its not the PGR he’s using to do that, it’s the Leiter Reports blog, which he would presumably continue to operate even if he lost control of the PGR. That is–unless we have evidence that he really is manipulating the PGR to serve his personal vendettas. But, as ‘more than slightly’ notes above, we don’t have any such evidence.

‘But,’ the retort goes, ‘if he wasn’t editor of the PGR, then people wouldn’t take him as seriously when he says harmful things on his blog.’ This, I think, is simply false. Who is saying to themselves, ‘Well, Leiter is the editor of the PGR, so if he thinks professor X is a sanctimonious ass, then she must be!’? In fact, despite the fact that he is currently editor of the PGR, and thus still has the purported deep, mysterious power over the profession, there is currently almost no one willing to defend his recent claims and actions.

That suggests that the philosophical community is capable of resisting the (obviously stupid) inference from ‘Leiter runs an influential ranking report’ to ‘all Leiter’s vendettas against other philosophers are legitimate.’ But, in that case, the argument that his recent actions make him unfit to run the PGR (unless taking it from him is supposed to be punitive, which I suspect is what’s really going on) don’t go through. It’s possible for him to simultaneously be good at (and deserving of) running the PGR, but a jerk on his blog. As far as I can tell, that’s what’s actually the case.Report

jason
Reply to  More than Slightly Puzzled
7 years ago

I never said there was any abuse of institutional power. I suggested that the fear of such an abuse (whether warranted or not) makes many people very afraid to cross Leiter, which is a power in and of itself, and a power he has only because of his institutional ties.

I guess I don’t see what’s so hard about this. If (for instance) Ernest Sosa started going on blogs and harshly calling into question the professional competence of junior philosophers, would you really think that carries no more weight than if any other philosopher-off-the-street does it? If he did it to you, would you be so confident it didn’t affect your publication odds at Nous and Philosophy and Phenomenological Research? If he had demonstrated a pattern of doing this to philosophers (and if you had a modicum of desire to be published in Nous or PPR), and if you then disagreed with him about professional matters, would you feel confident in publicly expressing this disagreement? (Or even privately, not knowing his response?) Not if you’re like most people; and it matters not one whit that you have absolutely no evidence that Sosa would misuse his editorial power this way. That possibility is there, it’s extremely salient, and most people could not but help have it color their interactions with him.

If you don’t care about publishing in Nous or PPR then I guess hypothetical-Sosa’s (entirely counterfactual!) behavior wouldn’t matter so much. And if you happen to live in a corner of the world where people don’t care about the PGR, Leiter’s behavior won’t matter so much. (Although I daresay most anyone would be unsettled to receive an e-mail implying a lawsuit threat, even from a stranger.) But an awful lot of us live in a corner of the world where an awful lot of the people we interact with professionally on a day-to-day basis care very much about the PGR, so we don’t have the luxury happily ignoring him.Report

jason
Reply to  jason
7 years ago

PS — I of course don’t think that Sosa would, in a million years, do anything like the imagined behavior! Philosophers being philosophers, though, I thought I’d better explicitly cancel any potential implicatures just to be sure.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
7 years ago

With apologies for double posting, as I didn’t catch this before: isn’t it kind of strong to say that anyone who makes the case that Leiter’s behaviour is not “problematic on many levels” is ipso facto disingenuous? Obviously you think they’re wrong, but people can presumably be wrong without having ulterior motives.Report

Slightly Puzzled
Slightly Puzzled
7 years ago

“His words can damage people’s reputations and hurt their careers, precisely because he is treated as an authority in the philosophy community”

Speak for yourself.

Personally, I have always regarded him as a self-promoting blow-hard. And I have long regarded the PGR as a decidedly mixed blessing. But I separate my opinion of his always entertainingly pugnacious, sometimes foolish, but sometimes also spot on pronouncements from my mixed opinions about the PGR. I do grant that it would certainly be better, and just all around more pleasant, if something like the PGR was produced by somebody who wasn’t so, shall we say, problematic. So don’t look for any sort of defense of BL as a person from these quarters.

Still, I have to say that the complaint that he used demeaning language to a person with whom he took himself to be at odds seems, well, overly precious and fragile. At the very least, it involves, it seems to me, a vast overestimation of the power of Mr. BL. (And a vast underestimation of the power of his targets, at least some of them.) No doubt you are not alone in making that overestimation. I’m pretty sure he vastly overestimates his own power too.

And sure, I admit he sometimes carries himself as if he were some sort of authority on all things philosophical, as if people are supposed to listen to his personal pronouncements because…., well, because.. I really don’t know why. I mean the guy displays a surprising degree of self-puff-uppery for such a middle weight philosopher. I guess there are people who are taken in by the self-puff-uppery. But seriously, I can’t think of many grown up, serious-minded, accomplished philosophers, male or female, who take BL the person as anything other than what he is — a passionate guy with a sharp tongue, strong opinions and a well known obsession with rank and reputation.

I also admit that there are a lot of folks who buy into the PGR more than I personally do. To some extent, these folks act as enablers of BL and his self-puff-uppery. Maybe, just maybe by now they are growing tired of his act or are feeling a little guilty about associating with such a mensch as he. But that wouldn’t be my first guess. That’s because I know and respect a lot of those folks and I believe that most of those who actively help him with the PGR are astute enough to separate the man from the product that they jointly produce. I suspect that most of them regard BL himself more or less the way that I do, but help out just to make the darned thing less problematic and more useful than it otherwise would be. BL’s line is that it’s all meant to serve the graduate students. And I suspect that that’s why those who have lent him a hand have done so — to try to hold him to that ideal more nearly. But oh does BL delight in the dishing of his disses. And that rankles many — especially his targets, but others too.

But seriously, in terms of BL’s personal opinions — as opposed to whatever degree of collective wisdom is represented in the PGR — beyond the fact that he, like anybody else of a certain level of academic achievement, is in a position to judge the scholarly merits of people who work in similar academic fields — he is far from being, or being viewed as, a sort of delphic oracle of the entire philosophy profession such that when he speaks the world stands up, salutes, and listens. ” The all-knowing BL says she’s a fool, so, by god, a fool she must be.”

I mean you’d have to be pretty ….. well … not sure what word is best here… misguided? … to think that the mere fact that BL personally doesn’t like philosopher X somehow carries some serious weight about the true merits of X’s work or the fact that BL called Y a bad name mean that Y deserve to be called by that name. I doubt he’s even read much of the work of the wide range of philosophers who have come in for his tongue lashings on various occasions. Where would he get the time? And face it, some of his tongue lashings are quite entertaining to read — though they quite often pick on low hanging fruit.

Don’t get me wrong. I think philosophers should play nice with each other. And I think they probably should refrain from making idle threats. But, by the way, if his threats to sue are entirely without merit, why not just throw them back in his face, why not laugh them off, why be bothered by them at all?

This obsession with BL’s antics seems, well, just overblown. He’s got no “institutional authority” whatsoever. You’re free to just ignore the guy. You can also call him out or shut him out, for all I care. It’s really not that hard. But let’s call a spade a spade, shall we? He’s being called out for “bullying” and “intimidation” and “silencing” those who disagree with him. But those characterizations attribute to him powers that he just doesn’t have. I’d rather call him a wanna be bully. Mere wanna be’s aren’t so intimidating. Actually, they’re much more pathetic than intimidating.

My overall thought then is that the idea that Leiter has some sort “institutional authority” that he is abusing by the mere act of having, shall we say, an exceedingly sharp tongue seems to me to attribute to him powers and authority that he just doesn’t have. Maybe what folks who have long believed otherwise are finally waking up to, is that the giant edifice of the all powerful BL is really just a fake, stored on back lot of some old movie set. And maybe they are mad at themselves for taking the fake for the real thing. If so, more power to them.Report

Anonymous
Anonymous
Reply to  Slightly Puzzled
7 years ago

““His words can damage people’s reputations and hurt their careers, precisely because he is treated as an authority in the philosophy community” — Speak for yourself. Personally, I have always regarded him as a self-promoting blow-hard.”

Many people may think of him your way, Slightly Puzzled, yet also consistently hold the view of Jason at Sept 29, 4:48 pm (augmented by his 10:42 pm), such that Leiter’s being a self-promoting blow-hard (your view) with his hands at the controls of the PGR constrains people’s behavior in a way that hurts them (his view). The mechanism of that constraint is articulated by Jason in two examples above at 4:48 and then concretized with a counter-factual at 10:43, such that it is impossible for many people to “just ignore the guy” and still function in the profession as currently constituted.

It would be good if you were to address those examples, as they were addressed to you as well as to “More than Slightly Puzzled.” It would also then be good if you considered Jason’s conclusion at 4:48 pm in light of his proposals at to how that power works:

“I think it’s wrong that anyone have the kind of social/professional power Leiter in fact has. It is unjust to the profession, which should not function at the pleasure of any one individual, and it is unjust to the individual, who gains a greater capacity to harm and thus a higher level of responsibility. The situation is even worse when the individual acts in the ways documented here and elsewhere.”Report

jason
Reply to  Slightly Puzzled
7 years ago

So, I guess you wouldn’t mind so much if Sosa started acting on a blog this way? Well, YMMV, I guess.

I’ll add one thing and then bow out, since I’m pretty sure neither of us is going to convince the other. Both you and the original Puzzled (as well as the CHE and many others) are taking the rest of us as primarily objecting to Leiter’s nasty tone. I’ve been playing along. But it’s pretty clear that we’ve seen a pattern of seemingly retaliatory behavior. Threatening (explicitly or implicitly) someone with a lawsuit, which you may have no chance of winning but will surely be expensive and stressful for the defendant, goes beyond ‘prickly ill-manners’ or having a ‘sharp tongue’. So do veiled threats involving publicly revealing things “you don’t want to get around”. (And there have been episodes involving individuals who have publicly clashed with Leiter having private and unflattering details about their personal lives disseminated on his blog — through a veneer of “professional interest”, of course — which is difficult, from where I sit, to not think of as retaliatory as well. I would prefer not to go into the details out of respect for the privacy of the individuals, though.)

When someone has exhibited a pattern of retaliatory behavior, and against not just well-established folk who can shrug it off but against junior members of the profession, and when this someone holds the reins of a very powerful institution that does not just track but effectively bestows institutional prestige, well, it takes a lot more optimism than I have to be as confident as you are that this just can’t possibly ever have any affect on your career.

[UPDATE: The author of this comments adds: “I may have come across as implying that Leiter’s behavior vis-a-vis the ‘personal information’ episode above was in fact retaliatory. I do not know that it was and do not mean to assert that it was. I mean only that it creates an appearance of retaliation, and that such appearances feed into (reasonable) fear others might have about similarly coming onto Leiter’s radar.”]Report

jason
Reply to  jason
7 years ago

(Sorry, Original Puzzled, I thought I was addressing Slightly Puzzled. Early morning bleary eyes, I guess.)Report

anon p
anon p
Reply to  jason
7 years ago

Minor point. Presumably, “retaliatory behavior” would have to consist in an at least somewhat plausible threat. Tossing out claims of “defamation per se” like the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, with nary a legally actionable basis in sight, hardly seems to constitute “retaliatory behavior.”Report

Anon
Anon
Reply to  anon p
7 years ago

A less minor point: As people keep forgetting, it was McAffee who first warned Leiter that ‘things get around.’ And, it was she who made unflattering personal information public when she published Leiter’s private emails to her. That’s not to say that she shouldn’t have done so, but just that it seems very bizarre for people to bash Leiter for threatening to reveal private information, when some of his private correspondence was actually made public by people on the other side.Report

Jennifer Frey
Reply to  anon p
7 years ago

Actually, hate mail and threatening email is not private. I have received hate mail, and I neither consented to receive it, nor wanted it, nor am I bound, by some supposed logic of having received, to conceal it from others. There is no human practice of sending threatening hate mail, the norms of which dictate that the recipient suffer it in silence. So this sort of defense, the “it was private” defense, doesn’t work. Not every thing sent to me is private. Saying it is doesn’t make it true, anon.Report

jason
Reply to  anon p
7 years ago

To anon at 10:46: As long as we’re trying to be really precise about who did what first and all, let’s not forget that in Leiter’s opening salvo to McAfee he writes, “At some point, I’m going to go very public with all this if you continue to misrepresent me, the PGR, etc.” (In the context it looks to me like the ‘all this’ is supposed to have something to do with her performance on the job market, but it’s not terribly clear.)

As for whether her publishing the e-mails is objectionable in a way that other potential ‘revelations’ would be, I can only recommend the third “update” at the Statement of Concern.Report

billwringe
billwringe
Reply to  anon p
7 years ago

The plausible threat is that of being involved in a time consuming and stressful legal business rather than that of losing in court. Given that Leiter’s just been making big noises about what a fantastic lawyer he’s got, and how he doesn’t even need to go to court to get what he wants, it doesn’t seem unreasonable for someone receiving an email about his litigation strategy to think he might have a history of launching/propensity to launch law-suits even when he’s unlikely to win.Report

Anon
Anon
Reply to  anon p
7 years ago

Jennifer: I never claimed that those receiving Leiter’s threatening emails were under any obligation to ‘conceal it from others.’ In fact, I explicitly denied that this was the case in my comment. However, the fact that the emails were threatening and unsoliticited does not, I think, mean that they aren’t ‘private.’ What it means is that, even though they were private, they aren’t the sort of private correspondence that it would be wrong to make public. But that’s just my point: it’s not necessarily wrong to make private things public. And since it’s entirely unclear what Leiter was threatening to go public with, we aren’t justified in assuming that it was something that it would have been wrong for him to disclose. And, in any event, whatever it was, it doesn’t appear that he ever did disclose it.

The broader point is this: the outcry against Leiter seems to be that certain kinds of actions he performed (publicly questioning the competence of other philosophers, threatening to make public information that would make someone look bad, threatening legal action) are simply out of bounds, never acceptable under any circumstances. But the same people making these claims, it seems, are perfectly fine with other people doing the same things, provided that Leiter (or, presumably, other notable figures that we don’t like) are the targets. Would there have been any outrage if Feminist/SPEP philosopher X had called Leiter a ‘sanctimonious arse’ on Twitter? I submit that he’s been called much worse things in the past week on all sorts of internet venues, and justifiably so, and we’ve all applauded it. It strikes me that the moralism behind so much of this discussion masks the real, political motive. It’s not that it’s wrong for anyone to do what Leiter did, but that it’s wrong for him to do it, because he is someone whose philosophical/professional/political views we dislike (or because his targets are people whose philosophical/professional/political views we do like.) Maybe that motivation is fine, but we should just be honest about it.Report

Jack Samuel
Jack Samuel
Reply to  Slightly Puzzled
7 years ago

If the claim is that most professional philosophers consider [(Leiter thinks x is stupid/is a fool/should leave the profession) -> (x is stupid/is a fool/should leave the profession)] a valid inference—that is, that most professional philosophers think that his disapproval provides strong warrant for negatively judging someone—then it is indeed a dramatic overstatement of his power. But I really doubt anyone thinks that most people explicitly endorse this inference.

Rather, people seem concerned that Leiter’s expressions of disapproval _influence_ the attitudes of others. That seems obviously true, given his stature within the discipline, his role in producing the de facto official ranking system, his writing the most widely-read professional blog, etc. To deny this would presumably involve thinking that belief- and attitude-forming processes are entirely conscious and rational, and, for that matter, that advertising works only insofar as it provides information and that the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement of political candidates or wingnutty pseudoscience is grounded in the popular perception that celebrities are far, far more trustworthy than most people.

Perhaps reasonable people can disagree about how much he influences people. But that he doesn’t influence people at all (or only influences misguided people that regard him as an epistemic authority) is pretty dubious.Report

Tom
Tom
7 years ago

One thing that, to my mind, is absolutely crucial to this debate concerns (to borrow phrases from a commenter over at feminist philosophers) “a particularly cheap tactic [Leiter] uniquely likes to use….the cheap debate tactic of appealing to anonymous authorities who have contacted him.” I cannot recount how many times this tactic has been used to lend authority to Leiter’s attacks on various people. I do remember that he used it to discredit C. Jennings and also, back in the days, against Richard Heck who has been posting here. What is particularly obnoxious about this tactic is that the anonymous authorities quoted are neatly categorized in terms that is suggestive of real authority, power or knowledge, such as ‘a senior philosophy at a top 10 department.’ This is one example of how Leiter uses his position of power in the profession in a way that seems questionable (to say the least) in many ways.Report

Anon
Anon
Reply to  Tom
7 years ago

But, again, this has nothing at all to do with the PGR. He could, and presumably would, continue to do that on his blog even if the PGR was entirely shut down. So it’s not ‘absolutely crucial to this debate’ at all. That would be crucial to the debate over whether we should all band together and try to get Typepad to shut down Leiter Reports, but thankfully no one has suggested that (yet).Report

Thomas
Thomas
Reply to  Anon
7 years ago

Anon: I agree that this would continue to be a problem, via the blog, even if the PGR did not exist anymore. But it surely does not follow that “this has nothing at all to do with the PGR”. For the point is precisely that the obnoxious tactics is being employed by someone who, qua editor of the most influential ranking in the profession (which influences hiring decisions, among other things), ought to abstain from such tactics.Report

anon grad student
anon grad student
7 years ago

I don’t know how else to read this: “I do not think it is an issue about which members of the philosophical community can remain neutral. In essence, the question is forced: you either stand in favour or you stand against.”

It’s true that this claim, although disputable in itself, is not *literally* an exhortation to a *public* response like adding one’s name to the September statement. But the implicature is quite obvious in the general context of the post. I’m OK with people presenting arguments for why we should have certain public reactions, but this goes beyond that and into “everyone stand up and be counted” territory.Report

ROM
ROM
7 years ago

The winner-take-all game of academia involves the winners cooperating with others less than the losers, who compound their losses by continuing to cooperate with the winners. An academic reputation cannot withstand the systematic withdrawal of cooperation.Report

David McNaughton
7 years ago

Philosophers are remarkably prolix! I am against any name-calling and abuse of the kind revealed in that email exchange by anyone at any time, and especially by one member of a profession towards another. Satire? Yes. Well-thought out and thoughtful critiques? Yes. Righteous anger? Yes. Calling people ‘sanctimonious a*holes? NO.Report