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May 9, 2007 2:19 AM   Subscribe

"Three years of legal education has been wasted because of an unmoderated message board." 3rd-year law student Anthony Ciolli has lost a job offer due to his association with law school message board AutoAdmit.
posted by lalex (257 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
AutoAdmit has been frequently criticized for failing to moderate sexist and threatening posts. Ciolli's job offer was rescinded despite the fact that he resigned from AutoAdmit shortly after a Washington Post article discussing the site and subsequently claimed that he had no authority over message board moderation. AutoAdmit denizens react here, and Wisconsin law prof Ann Althouse wonders why law firms don't care about free speech. NYU Law student (and occasional AutoAdmit target) Jill Filipovic has a different take here, while others ponder the irony of Ciolli's plea to be "left alone."
posted by lalex at 2:21 AM on May 9, 2007


So is it supposed to be interesting that a guy in his early twenties hung around with despicable people for too long? Or that despicable people exist in law schools? Or that employers sometimes don't hire people? Or that sometimes their reasons for declining someone are pretty good?
posted by eritain at 2:35 AM on May 9, 2007


Filipovic is an ass, and so is this law firm. Free speech without moderation is essential to the free exchange of ideas on the web. If she was so upset about what people were posting about her, she could post her own rebuttal through the site. And both should be smart enough to know that moderating a message board brings about legal liability that just isn't there if you leave it unmoderated.
posted by banished at 2:36 AM on May 9, 2007


"[If]you moderate, edit, or prune comments on your online forum -- or blog -- in any way at all then you stop being able to defend yourself as a common carrier and become a publisher who is, indeed, liable for the content that they publish." -from here
posted by banished at 2:38 AM on May 9, 2007


“While I was free to give input and act in an advisory manner–which I often did, with mixed results–Mr. [Jarret] Cohen always had final say over all rules and policies related to the message board,” and that Cohen “rarely granted” his requests to remove offensive material.

Cohen, a 23-year-old insurance broker in Allentown, Pa., who says he founded AutoAdmit and currently runs the site, told the Law Blog: “It was me. I created the message board. I exercised ultimate authority. Anthony didn’t endorse any of this stuff. He doesn’t deserve this. This is guilt by association.”
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:58 AM on May 9, 2007


It appears that three years of law school were wasted because the student didn't learn enough about the law.

When McDonalds rejects his application, then maybe that will be going too far.
posted by three blind mice at 3:02 AM on May 9, 2007


My understanding is that the message board was moderated, in the sense that posts were deleted (sometimes by Ciolli) if they were found to violate AutoAdmit policies.
posted by lalex at 3:09 AM on May 9, 2007


I don't see a problem with "guilt by association" in this case. He's not only associating with these neanderthals, he's facilitating their behaviour, and this law firm has decided that they don't want to hire somebody like that.
I think that's fair, and it's not like his career is ruined - there are plenty of less enlightened law firms full of 'dudes' like him who I'm sure will give him a job.
posted by Flashman at 3:13 AM on May 9, 2007


Uh, banished, you do realize that to support your point here, you're citing a publication that actually *does* moderate the comments on it's message board, "in large part to shield the magazine from legal liability for hate or slander that could appear in that area"
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:14 AM on May 9, 2007


If she was so upset about what people were posting about her, she could post her own rebuttal through the site.

This is just silly. The guys posting over at the AutoAdmit site are hardly going to respond to ANYTHING she says in a mature manner. It'd be like yelling at a brick wall if the brick wall was drunk and prone to calling you a fat whore.
posted by liquorice at 3:25 AM on May 9, 2007 [9 favorites]


On preview, what flashman said.

Ciolli's spin is cute—"free, uninhibited exchange of ideas" and "three years [...] has been wasted" (sic) and all—but (a) has he looked at what is being freely, uninhibitedly exchanged on the site he spends his time on, and (b) does he think that he's now permanently doomed to flip burgers or something?

Granted, after a brief perusal of AutoAdmit, I wouldn't hire him, or anyone who spent substantial amounts of their time on it: It appears to be a free, uninhibited exchange of nearly 100%-pure, irredeemable crap. (Warning flags: (a) A 'prestigious' anything, much less 'the most prestigious' one, by definition never has to tell you that that's what it is; (b) this is the Internet, the forum's unmoderated, you know what that leads to! Jeez.)

But this is because I am a curmudgeon, unusually committed to the distinction between free speech and cheap talk, and lately inclined to agree with Harlan Ellison about the unmoderated, unedited Internet: 'When they say "Gee it's an information explosion!", no, it's not an explosion, it's a disgorgement of the bowels is what it is.' Not everyone is such a grump.

More to the point, I am not anyone's employer, so what I think about who I'd hire really doesn't amount to a hill (or even a plate) of beans. Somewhere, someone who does have a job to offer is going to be either more charitable or more gullible than I am, and pick this guy up. I mean, he did put in the sweat to earn a legal degree at 23 or 24, right? His brain is probably useable.

He proposes to take a year 'to develop a series of positive contributions to the legal community that would go a long way toward strengthening my reputation and allaying your concerns'. If in fact he does so, he will certainly get hired somewhere. Maybe even at EAP&D, if his actions address their concerns in a way that his talk did not. They were within their rights to feel nervous about him. He's within his rights to try and assure them. If he succeeds, they'll still be within their rights to hire him after all. No biggie, just a simple case of 'put up or shut up'.
posted by eritain at 3:33 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Off-topic: I'd really like to see what the Onion would say to this post.
posted by eritain at 3:34 AM on May 9, 2007


Actions have consiquences.

He participated in a board that, whether by design or evolution, had a substantial community revolving around stalking, harrassment, and the revelation of personal contact information (addresses, schedules, etc) of women accompanied by rape and murder threats.

The "rules" for Autoadmit that occasionally resulted in a post being deleted forbade posting the real life name of the people doing the harrassing. Note, that posting the real life names, addresses, etc of women was, from Autoadmit's point of view, perfectly acceptable. Its only when their precious little posters were outed that they deleted anything.

So, yeah. Actions have consequences. And his pathetic little whine "I just want to be left alone" is all the proof you need that he's convenced of his own exceptionalism. He never thought that maybe the women his posters were threatening might want to be left alone. Of course they didn't, they were guilty of having breasts, that meant that it was perfectly justifiable to stalk them, post their actual physical address and schedule, etc. But he's male, so he deserves to be left alone. Asshole.
posted by sotonohito at 3:45 AM on May 9, 2007 [10 favorites]


Filipovic is an ass, and so is this law firm. Free speech without moderation is essential to the free exchange of ideas on the web.

Yeah! Rape threats and online harassment are an essential part of free exchange of ideas!

Gimme a break.
posted by Sijeka at 3:59 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


banished wrote: Free speech without moderation is essential to the free exchange of ideas on the web.

Agreed, but the issue here is as much about anonymous speech as moderation. There is a severe trade-off for anonymous speech, as it helps produce the "invisible man culture" that roughens online discourse. Also, banished, you're quoting the "common carrier" principle, which is pretty old law -- the DMCA provides safe harbors that give administrators more flexibility in exchange for explicit waiving of liability on other stuff (see this link for a little bit on that.)
posted by bclark at 4:03 AM on May 9, 2007


I am responsible for hiring people in a profession that is often looked at carefully in terms of the ethics of the individual providing services. I research every person I hire. If there are questionable activities or associations, I don't hire them.

Why is this guy surprised he wasn't hired.... or, how did he get through three years of law school being that ignorant of how the world works?
posted by HuronBob at 4:17 AM on May 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


He should sue. All he needs to do is find a good lawyer.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:42 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


That final link to Bitch PhD is bang on the nail, IMO.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:45 AM on May 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Good.
posted by spitbull at 4:45 AM on May 9, 2007


Free speech without moderation is essential to the free exchange of ideas on the web.

Free speech without moderation is one thing. Free speech without consequence is another.
posted by eriko at 4:46 AM on May 9, 2007 [10 favorites]


From the WaPo article:

Cohen said he no longer keeps identifying information on users because he does not want to encourage lawsuits and drive traffic away. Asked why posters could not use their real names, he said, "People would not have as much fun, frankly, if they had to worry about employers pulling up information on them."

"(associate dean Gary Clinton from Penn) said he has had several conversations with Ciolli and has "pointed out time and again how hurtful these ad hominem attacks can be to individuals, and have asked him to delete threads." The effort, he noted, "has been largely unsuccessful."


Poetic justice, I'd say. Maybe he can sell the rights to his story to the 'Legally Blonde' franchise?
posted by NekulturnY at 5:07 AM on May 9, 2007


So is it supposed to be interesting that a guy in his early twenties hung around with despicable people for too long? Or that despicable people exist in law schools? Or that employers sometimes don't hire people? Or that sometimes their reasons for declining someone are pretty good?

Well, apparently it is. If it weren't, why would you take the trouble to comment three times?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:07 AM on May 9, 2007


Wow, I feel like some of these lawyers a) don't know how the law works, and b) don't know how the Internet works. WTF, people? This isn't your private bedroom or local coffeeshop. The shit you say now is being beamed, as I type, to anyone who searches for it. Jesus Christ, these people need to grow up and own their actions, including their support of or active participation in harassment and hateful speech.
posted by muddgirl at 5:14 AM on May 9, 2007


Filipovic is an ass

For what? She didn't call up his law firm, or make any harassment against him other than defending herself on her own blog and responding to questions in a Post article. If you read it correctly, you would have noticed that the women mentioned on this board were the ones facing undue burden and risking lack of placement in law firms because of the assaults made on them courtesy of Ciolli's digital bathroom wall.

Filipovic is an "ass" because she wouldn't take a message board filled with posts about how she was "rapable" and "worthy of a hate-fuck" like the person Ciolli wanted to treat her as?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:17 AM on May 9, 2007 [7 favorites]


Anthony Ciolli, the 3L at Penn Law

Have we really become so inured to jargon that they can no longer write "third year law student". /pedant
posted by psmealey at 5:22 AM on May 9, 2007


Yeah, like WTF?
posted by Flashman at 5:29 AM on May 9, 2007


Wow... just clicking on one random discussion threads (should I go to Penn or Brown?) and not even scrolling down, I found a half dozen examples of homophobia, antisemitism and misogyny. Charming.

I'm of mixed opinions on this, but my thinking is that if Ciolli willingly posted or had an active association with this site, he's a fucking dumbass, and the firm in question had every right to re-evaluate their offer on this basis.
posted by psmealey at 5:32 AM on May 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


This seems completely justified. If the argument is that he should have all the leeway in the world to do and say what he wants without suffering consequences, then certainly that same right extends to the firm, which can and did not hire him for any reason they choose.
posted by OmieWise at 5:37 AM on May 9, 2007


3L is a fancy way of keeping up mystique to an all too long, all too poorly formulated way of educating lawyers in America. Give it to them, it might even be all they got.

Ciolli might even be better off not going to BigLaw. He would have been doing either document review or due dilligence -- stuff that it's hard to build a career from really.

He might still be able to get another position in the government or public service and find that his legal education is not exactly "wasted".
posted by skepticallypleased at 5:48 AM on May 9, 2007


So I guess mathowie can kiss that sweet clerkship job at the Supreme Court goodbye, then?
posted by briank at 5:53 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bwahahaha. Who are these idiots who thought they could be let into the upper echelons of society while publishing all kinds of crazy bullshit.
The Law Blog reviewed correspondence between Ciolli and the firm, and here’s how it went down:
Went down? Has Herbert Kornfeld been reborn as a law blogga'.

Wisconsin law prof Ann Althouse wonders why law firms don't care about free speech.

LOL wut? This is the woman who rants and raves about "attacks" and "incivility" from the left.
posted by delmoi at 5:57 AM on May 9, 2007


If she was so upset about what people were posting about her, she could post her own rebuttal through the site.
Dear anonymous user 12inchjohnson,

Regarding your recent post to this forum dated 4:30am and titled "eat me, bitch", I must respectfully take issue with your characterization of me as a "fucking dyke" and your (if I may say, unsupported) assertion that I represent the class of persons who "need to gag on [your] cock."
Yeah, that should work.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 5:57 AM on May 9, 2007 [20 favorites]


Huzzah.

I see this as a continuation of real-world backlash against the kind of garbage that Kathy Sierra went through a month ago.

Just because it's "normal" online to have a forum where people can anonymously harass others, doesn't mean the rest of society stands for this. Think about what other groups are known for anonymity and harassment of minorities ...

There's a big difference between defending free speech and actively supporting a forum for hate and harassment. The tide is turning, and hopefully it's not going to be normal, and "it's just the internet and that's just how it is" isn't going to fly for real people any longer. Good.
posted by cotterpin at 5:58 AM on May 9, 2007


Good for the law firm.

They're under no obligation to hire some asshole law student that they find out is an asshole.
posted by sayitwithpie at 6:03 AM on May 9, 2007


Huzzah.

I see this as a continuation of real-world backlash against the kind of garbage that Kathy Sierra went through a month ago.

Just because it's "normal" online to have a forum where people can anonymously harass others, doesn't mean the rest of society stands for this. Think about what other groups are known for anonymity and harassment of minorities ...

There's a big difference between defending free speech and actively supporting a forum for hate and harassment. The tide is turning, and hopefully it's not going to be normal, and "it's just the internet and that's just how it is" isn't going to fly for real people any longer. Good.
posted by cotterpin at 6:04 AM on May 9, 2007


Free speech without moderation is essential to the free exchange of ideas on the web.

And being an asshole without moderation is likely to get you unhired from certain law firms. If I worked at that firm, you can bet your ass I'd be asking why someone like that was getting a job offer. They have every right to keep him at arm's length.
posted by mediareport at 6:05 AM on May 9, 2007


AutoAdmit is unquestionably a cesspool, but it's also the only place on the Internet that I know of to get straight answers about law school and early law firm life. All of the other law discussion boards will blow sunshine up your ass, largely because they're over-moderated and "negativity" is discouraged.

I personally think what happened to Ciolli was unfortunate, because I don't think people should generally be held accountable for other people's speech. I certainly don't approve of the harassment that went on, either, but I don't think Ciolli ever participated or was in a position to stop it. Cohen certainly was, but he disapproved of moderation beyond what was necessary to keep posters from being scared away (hence the ban on outing).
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:09 AM on May 9, 2007


Interesting post, thanks lalex.

pro: freedom of speech
con: complete idiot who is going into the legal profession while 'moderating' (?) a board with comments like this one, which is typical of the reactionary sexist, racist, bullshit.

BitchPhD (the last link in lalex's post) is quite articulate about the situation.

His job being rescinded is obviously part of his ongoing education. Doesn't look like he's graduated grade school yet. Pity the poor fool, especially if female, who made the mistake of actually hiring this dufus...or, frankly, any of the dufuses on that board.
posted by nickyskye at 6:13 AM on May 9, 2007


I must be getting old. I hope every law firm in America refuses to hire ANY of these assholes posting threats.

Whatever happened to the requirement that wannabe lawyers meet some sort of standards of decent conduct?

And how long will it be before some of these assholes' writings turn up in court cases or sex-harassment cases at the firms that do hire them?
posted by etaoin at 6:14 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]



AutoAdmit is unquestionably a cesspool, but it's also the only place on the Internet that I know of to get straight answers about law school and early law firm life. All of the other law discussion boards will blow sunshine up your ass, largely because they're over-moderated and "negativity" is discouraged.

If law school is like that, I'm glad I chose engineering.

But it's not like he's completely out of opportunities. The DOJ will hire any douchebag that puts his associates before common sense. Bonus points for hating minorities, women or gays. Even if he comes from a TTT they'll probably even put him in charge of something important.

He's doing a heck of a job!
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:19 AM on May 9, 2007


I propose a new standard for moderation and censorship on the internets. Don't say anything that you would get thrown out of a public library for saying, relative to the section of the library you are in.

For example, in the children's section you would be asked to leave the library for certain kinds of speech, and in the adult-books-and-magazines section you would be thrown out for a different kind of speech.

If someone makes a resource available to the public, that doesn't mean anyone can use it any way they like. I hope this law student getting kicked to the curb sends a chill through the cruel and stupid everywhere, and those who tolerate them.

except me.
posted by ewkpates at 6:20 AM on May 9, 2007


All of the other law discussion boards will blow sunshine up your ass, largely because they're over-moderated and "negativity" is discouraged.

Well, hopefully this incident will help law discussion board communities come up with some happier middle ground between "law school bitches" and a sphincter full of smoke.
posted by mediareport at 6:20 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Look, there's a clear logical exclusion for personal insults and libel. What do personal attacks on private individuals add to the marketplace of ideas? How do they help us determine just policies or prevent bad leaders from gaining positions of importance?

Free speech isn't an excuse to wipe your shit all over regular folk. That's not what it's for.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:21 AM on May 9, 2007


Wisconsin law prof Ann Althouse wonders why law firms don't care about free speech.

Wisconsin law prof Ann Althouse wrote a series of posts about Filipovic's fellow feminist blogger Jessica Valenti where she accused her of being a whore for attending a meeting with Bill Clinton while having breasts. She has about as much credibility on feminist issues and social behavior as Andrew Dice Clay.

Free speech without moderation is essential to the free exchange of ideas on the web.

Yes, I too would lament the loss of such august advances in free exchange of ideas like "I want to hate fuck a feminist" and "I have it on good authority that Jill F has rape fantasies" that have truly contributed to the development of the legal profession.

I missed the part of the Constitution that said free speech includes law firms being obligated to hire you, but then I'm clearly not as well-versed in the legal profession as the future Daniel Websters up there.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:22 AM on May 9, 2007 [5 favorites]


Ciolli isn't being punished for the actions of others - he's being punished for his own. It was his choice to maintain an affiliation with and a leadership role in a message board associated with racist, sexist, and threatening material. He was beyond stupid for not thinking in advance about the effect his association with AA might have on his reputation and his career. I probably wouldn't hire anyone who exhibited such poor judgment either, for that reason alone.

There are cases where bloggers have been unfairly targeted by employers. This ain't one.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:28 AM on May 9, 2007 [4 favorites]



1. Is it me or do law students need to understand Freedom of Speech - which is government restricted speech is not permitted. From the sounds of it, some messages were culled but in general they allowed a rabid environment of discussion which is not representative of a law culture, and yet they wish to still be treated as part of the law culture. Not a realistic or adult attitude.


2. How does this ruin his career? He can get another job - perhaps not as glorious as he might have liked considering his inflated self perception.

Besides the history of the message board and what it represents - I am further concerned about his attitude of not taking responsibility for his role in the site. As the law firm stated, they have given him repeated attempts to refute the information.

Consider the content of the site, even if his role was minimal, his further attitude of not accepting his role and not engaging with the firm to hire him represents a childishness that would send off alarm bells if I was hiring him. Add the content into the equation and I would take it back as well.

Good for the law firm.
posted by fluffycreature at 6:30 AM on May 9, 2007


The content of AutoAdmit does not surprise me at all. Law school students are some of the most abhorrent immature assholes I have ever met. You could not find a worse group of people, if your life depended on it, than a law school class. As an example, in my Criminal Law class we were covering rape, and the general consensus was that "If a girl is out at the bars at 3am, what does she think is going to happen?". The funny thing is, lawyers are, for the most part, all right. Some are dicks sure, but they mostly just are normal people with families and who try to be good people. I don't know what happens in between law school and lawyerdom, but it is astounding. I remember sitting in my 1L class (it may be a stupid term, but I have been brainwashed, I can call it nothing else) thinking "Wow. If a fire burned down this building and killed everyone in here, it would actually make the world a better place." I should say that the thought never entered my head of starting a fire, nor have I ever done any violence to anyone, nor would I. I hardly have to mention that being a law school student was a miserable experience for me, as I don't enjoy the company of terrible people, but being a lawyer is pretty cool. Anyway, I imagine that it must be the environment of law school that, at least partially, contributes to making law school students such awful human beings, so I suppose the answer to the problem lies in totally revamping legal education.

More on topic, good for this law firm. You lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.
posted by ND¢ at 6:32 AM on May 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


Free speech can still have consequences, the First Amendment doesn't protect you from descisions made by private actors. Don't they teach that in Constitutional Law at UPENN? I thought it was a good law school or something?
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:33 AM on May 9, 2007


He should come over here. We could use more whining law students.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:34 AM on May 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Most of what I think has been said already, but additionally I'd like to point out that lawyers especially have to worry about activities and people that they publicly associate with because awful professional public perception aside, the lawyers I know and have read tend to be on the upstanding, admirable side -- not because of their money making abilities, but because they tend to have a very strong sense of ethics and of community responsibility (for example, my understanding is they take pro bono and other community work very seriously).

So really, should this guy be surprised that he creates a hangout for scumbags and then a law firm wants nothing to do with him? It's sort of like the guy who sleeps with all his friend's wives and thenwonders why he didn't get invited to the barbecue.

"It must be because they hate my commitment to FREEDOM!"
posted by illovich at 6:35 AM on May 9, 2007


...And I'm glad I didn't goto the above law school. I like probably 70% of my 1L class, who are completely normal. Your school must've sucked.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:38 AM on May 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ciolli isn't being punished for the actions of others - he's being punished for his own. It was his choice to maintain an affiliation with and a leadership role in a message board associated with racist, sexist, and threatening material.

Yeah, and that's why even though I feel bad for him, I can't fault the firm. AutoAdmit has really gone downhill in the last few months (after a good run of several years), and he didn't get out quickly enough. I guess he was too vested in the place, or something.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:38 AM on May 9, 2007


Ciollo discusses AutoAdmit's moderation policies and his level of control over the threads in the comment section of this post.
posted by lalex at 6:41 AM on May 9, 2007


Mr. Ciolli. Here is a dime. Take it, call your mother, and tell her there is serious doubt about you ever becoming a lawyer.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:44 AM on May 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Well, I actually am Wisconsin lawpro Ann Althouse (stuck here with an old nickname) and I'd like to say that XQUZYPHYR just wrote a despicable lie about me: "Wisconsin law prof Ann Althouse wrote a series of posts about Filipovic's fellow feminist blogger Jessica Valenti where she accused her of being a whore for attending a meeting with Bill Clinton while having breasts." So, I hope all you people who are opposed to the unmoderated comments on AutoAdmit will be suitably outraged and figure out what ought to be done about that. I'm pretty sick of the way that meme about me has infected the internet, and I can't figure out what to do about it other than to hope that people learn that much of what people write is trash. But if you think something more forcible should be done, what is it and will you do it to XQUZYPHYR?
posted by Alizaria at 6:45 AM on May 9, 2007 [7 favorites]


I certainly don't approve of the harassment that went on, either, but I don't think Ciolli ever participated or was in a position to stop it. Cohen certainly was, but he disapproved of moderation beyond what was necessary to keep posters from being scared away (hence the ban on outing).
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:09 AM on May 9 [+]


This is the revisionist history Ciolli and his minions are trying to spread around the internet. Ciolli had an active role in the site and was actually an equity owner until March 2007, when the Washington Post article was published and he "resigned." Ciolli may not have himself had his finger on the moderation button, but there's no question that he was a leader and owner of the site at all the relevant times. I've also heard he made many distasteful postings on the site himself, but I can't confirm that because I don't want to look at the site.
posted by footnote at 6:46 AM on May 9, 2007


Free speech can still have consequences, the First Amendment doesn't protect you from descisions made by private actors. Don't they teach that in Constitutional Law at UPENN? I thought it was a good law school or something?

I think it's a mistake to equate free speech with speech protected by the First Amendment. The First Amendment doesn't circumscribe the outer limit of what freedom of expression should entail. It merely protects certain expression from government action.

Of course Ciolli's firm was legally justified in rescinding their offer of employment. That's not at issue. The question is whether a world in which employers rescind offers based on people's association with disapproved speech is better than one in which they don't.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:48 AM on May 9, 2007


Prof. Althouse: Why don't you take this opportunity to give your own account of the Valenti incident?
posted by footnote at 6:49 AM on May 9, 2007


This is the revisionist history Ciolli and his minions are trying to spread around the internet. Ciolli had an active role in the site and was actually an equity owner until March 2007, when the Washington Post article was published and he "resigned."

I don't think this is accurate. I used to read the board, and there was never any indication that Ciolli could unilaterally set moderation policy, and it was always clear that Cohen wasn't going to allow moderation based on the offensiveness of the content.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:51 AM on May 9, 2007


I'd like to say that XQUZYPHYR just wrote a despicable lie about me

Watch out XQUZYPHYR, you've reminded Althouse of the Jessica Valenti BREAST CONTROVERSY!
posted by octobersurprise at 6:52 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ciolli isn't being punished for the actions of others - he's being punished for his own. It was his choice to maintain an affiliation with and a leadership role in a message board associated with racist, sexist, and threatening material.

So there are no lawyers on LGF?
posted by Balisong at 6:52 AM on May 9, 2007


The question is whether a world in which employers rescind offers based on people's association with disapproved speech is better than one in which they don't.

Would you hire a prospective elementary school teacher who you knew hung around underage chat rooms? In that situation, it's just expression, not behavior.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:53 AM on May 9, 2007


Footnote: It would hijack this thread to explain all that, but I see what I assume is your point, that more speech is the cure. It's the cure I believe in too. If you are actually interested in my explanation, why don't you watch me explain it to Bob Wright on BloggingheadsTV.
posted by Alizaria at 6:54 AM on May 9, 2007


While Althouse may not have used the exact phrase mentioned here (although I think that any intelligent reader would not have read XQUZYPHYR's comment as a literal quotation), here's a sample of what she did write, as quoted at Feministing:
Then, when she goes to meet Clinton, she wears a tight knit top that draws attention to her breasts and stands right in front of him and positions herself to make her breasts as obvious as possible?

It's obvious that you're bending over backwards -- figuratively and literally -- to keep the attention on your breasts.

Jessica should have worn a beret. Blue dress would have been good too.

Jessica's breasts are definitely a distraction…

… Jessica looks like Paula Jones (check her profile photo: she does)…

Look closely at that picture and try to adopt the posture Jessica's in. I did. It's not natural…
posted by OmieWise at 6:56 AM on May 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


alizaria/Dr. Althouse, are you aware of MeTa?
posted by pax digita at 6:57 AM on May 9, 2007


I don't think this is accurate. I used to read the board, and there was never any indication that Ciolli could unilaterally set moderation policy, and it was always clear that Cohen wasn't going to allow moderation based on the offensiveness of the content.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:51 AM on May 9 [+]


Take a look at the comments by Ciolli in this blog. He makes it clear that he was an owner of the site until March 2007. It's totally irrelevant that Cohen supposedly controlled the moderation policies -- as a partner in the venture, Ciolli was tacitly approving of Cohen's conduct.
posted by footnote at 6:57 AM on May 9, 2007


Footnote: It would hijack this thread to explain all that, but I see what I assume is your point, that more speech is the cure. It's the cure I believe in too. If you are actually interested in my explanation, why don't you watch me explain it to Bob Wright on BloggingheadsTV.
posted by Alizaria at 9:54 AM on May 9 [+]

[!]


No, what I mean is that if you're going to throw around accusations about posters on this site, you need to back it up. I agree with pax that you should take it to Metatalk if you're concerned.
posted by footnote at 7:00 AM on May 9, 2007


as almost always, what XQUZ, madamjujujive and Mr. Pileon said.
posted by matteo at 7:01 AM on May 9, 2007


in the adult-books-and-magazines section

What library do you go to?
posted by staggernation at 7:02 AM on May 9, 2007


Would you hire a prospective elementary school teacher who you knew hung around underage chat rooms? In that situation, it's just expression, not behavior.

Let me turn your question around. Why do you think someone would hesitate to hire this person? It has nothing to do with one's approval or disapproval of whatever they were saying in the chat room, or what other people were saying (in fact, you didn't even tell me what was being said in the hypo)--no, the question is whether they're going to sexually abuse the kids.

If Ciolli's law firm had some reasonable and articulable grounds to think he would be bad at the job, then you're right, this isn't a speech issue. It's not clear that's the case, though.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:02 AM on May 9, 2007


Take a look at the comments by Ciolli in this blog. He makes it clear that he was an owner of the site until March 2007. It's totally irrelevant that Cohen supposedly controlled the moderation policies -- as a partner in the venture, Ciolli was tacitly approving of Cohen's conduct.

I approve of Cohen's conduct too. Please don't tell my employer, though, because I don't want to get fired because of what I do and don't approve of.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:04 AM on May 9, 2007


"If anything, my presence greatly reduced hurt, since when Jarret did make a decision to delete certain types of posts (e.g. posts that violate the anti-outing policy) I was around to remove them when he wasn't around to do it himself."

Says Ciolli himself in the discussion in the link provided by lalex.

So he did have moderating powers at AutoAdmit, and he chose to use them only to delete "posts that violate(d) the anti-outing policy". Translation: when anonymous stalkers were 'outed', he put on his bat costume and fought evil. Thereby "greatly reducing the hurt". Right.

If he had equity and de facto modding powers, what stopped him from using them? The word of an insurance agent working "60 - 80 hours a week" (also from his discussion in same link)? Or was the word of Mr. Cohen more of a 'befehl'? It all sounds a bit weak to me.

Poor Anthony Ciolli. May he have a rich and rewarding life full of entitlement.
posted by NekulturnY at 7:04 AM on May 9, 2007


Another kid dealing with the legal system today: This kid made the huge mistake of throwing an egg and it was turned into him being accused of throwing a bomb.
posted by nickyskye at 7:06 AM on May 9, 2007


Well, I actually am Wisconsin lawpro Ann Althouse (stuck here with an old nickname) and I'd like to say that XQUZYPHYR just wrote a despicable lie about me: "Wisconsin law prof Ann Althouse wrote a series of posts about Filipovic's fellow feminist blogger Jessica Valenti where she accused her of being a whore for attending a meeting with Bill Clinton while having breasts." So, I hope all you people who are opposed to the unmoderated comments on AutoAdmit will be suitably outraged and figure out what ought to be done about that. I'm pretty sick of the way that meme about me has infected the internet, and I can't figure out what to do about it other than to hope that people learn that much of what people write is trash. But if you think something more forcible should be done, what is it and will you do it to XQUZYPHYR?
posted by Alizaria at 6:45 AM on May 9


Well, here's what you said:

"Then, when she goes to meet Clinton, she wears a tight knit top that draws attention to her breasts and stands right in front of him and positions herself to make her breasts as obvious as possible?"

"It's obvious that you're bending over backwards -- figuratively and literally -- to keep the attention on your breasts."

"Jessica should have worn a beret. Blue dress would have been good too."

"Jessica's breasts are definitely a distraction…"

"… Jessica looks like Paula Jones (check her profile photo: she does)…"

"Look closely at that picture and try to adopt the posture Jessica's in. I did. It's not natural…"

So while you managed to not actually use the word "whore" (bravo!), your obsession with some woman's boobs and a three-quarter pose makes you sound positively fucking mental. If I point out that you're a nasty, cold-hearted, evil, callow, hideous inhuman waste of skin, is it okay because I didn't use the word "bitch"?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:06 AM on May 9, 2007 [14 favorites]


The only news here is that the law firm decided to go this way. I went to Big Law at first, and one of my peers turned out to have been involved in a fraudulent mark scandal that I had heard about. I was shocked to see her there, but apparently the firm decided that it was too risky to rescind the offer at that stage of hiring. Thing is, in law, reputation is nearly everything. The firm had its own reputation to protect. (I think they eventually paid her to go away). Good decision I think here.

And Ciolli should count himself lucky. Is there any Bar association in N.A. without a good citizen clause?

oh, on preview:

Anyway, I imagine that it must be the environment of law school that, at least partially, contributes to making law school students such awful human beings

Took the GRE and LSAT around the same time. Wander in to the LSAT, see all these friendly looking strangers. Strike up a few conversations, work out the jitters. Nice group of people, from diverse programs -- anthro, psych, socio, philosophy. Then we settle down to the test. Walk into the LSAT about a week later. Candidates all eyes-forward, hardly any speaking. Suspicious glances, frowns, occasional glares. Atmosphere 100% different. So while I'm sure you're partly right about the law school gauntlet, I think it attracts a different kind, too. Lots of good people, but it's also one of the few careers I can think of where being an asshole can actually be spun as virtue.
posted by dreamsign at 7:07 AM on May 9, 2007


Whoa, just came back to this thread. Is that really Althouse?
posted by lalex at 7:07 AM on May 9, 2007


I approve of Cohen's conduct too. Please don't tell my employer, though, because I don't want to get fired because of what I do and don't approve of.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:04 AM on May 9 [+]

[!]


Come on. Cohen and Ciolli had a business together as partners. Part of the business plan was to invite or allow very offensive posts on their website. Only Cohen had the power to moderate. Ciolli does not get a free pass because this particular function was allocated to his business partner rather than himself.

I hate anaologies, but: It's as if your business partner were embezzeling from the company's investors with your full knowledge, but you tried to claim immunity because only he had control of the bank accounts.
posted by footnote at 7:12 AM on May 9, 2007


Footnote, I quoted Ciolli above as stating that he did have the power to moderate.
posted by NekulturnY at 7:14 AM on May 9, 2007


they tend to have a very strong sense of ethics and of community responsibility (for example, my understanding is they take pro bono and other community work very seriously).

I have to say that this is true, as far as I can tell. I have a friend who's a corporate lawyer and an active member of the right-wing Federalist Society-- basically every stereotype of the evil conservative that liberal intellectuals like me have. Yet at the same time she did pro-bono work to prevent a poor guy on disability from being evicted from his apartment, a move of such bleeding-hearted community service that would make my non-lawyer conservative relatives launch into a tirade about the unfairness of such handouts and corruption of the legal system.

Corporate lawyers aren't all a bunch of sleazeballs (though I would advise those wishing to make a positive contribution to society to look elsewhere). At least the young ones are just there because they need to pay off their law school loans. I presume that the reason that law students are such jerks is because they show up to law school with such a sense of entitlement and fantasies that they'll be law partners making millions before they're 40. Once they experience the grind of the early years of lawyer life, have their master-of-the-universe dreams knocked out of them, and figure out what they want to do with their careers, they probably learn a little more humility.
posted by deanc at 7:14 AM on May 9, 2007


AutoAdmit is unquestionably a cesspool, but it's also the only place on the Internet that I know of to get straight answers about law school and early law firm life

You were able to find straight answers? I found the amount of time required to sort through all of the racist/sexist noise a zero sum game, when I could go to Law School Discussion or the Non-Trad LS boards and find the same information in much less time.

Law school students are some of the most abhorrent immature assholes I have ever met. You could not find a worse group of people, if your life depended on it, than a law school class.

The summer before my 1L year, I had fully braced myself to deal with "abhorrent immature assholes." That has not been my experience. Although there may be some behavior typical of the lack of life experience that comes with being one's early twenties, I am proud of my classmates and look forward to working with them as professionals in the field.

Then again, my law school is hardly one of the elite T-14 that seems to dominate the thinking on AutoAdmit, so maybe the phenomenon you describe is a product of an elitist mindset. Even so, without a broader range of evidence, I would hesitate to make such a broad sweeping generalization of law students based upon one internet website's foul dump into the marketplace of ideas.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:15 AM on May 9, 2007


But if you think something more forcible should be done, what is it and will you do it to XQUZYPHYR?

OK, I promise I won't hire them to work at any future law firm I happen to own. Does that work for you?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:17 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Footnote, I quoted Ciolli above as stating that he did have the power to moderate.
posted by NekulturnY at 10:14 AM on May 9 [+]

[!]


Yeah, I know -- I'm just trying to address Ciolli's revisionist account, which makes no sense even if it is true!
posted by footnote at 7:17 AM on May 9, 2007


If Ciolli's law firm had some reasonable and articulable grounds to think he would be bad at the job, then you're right, this isn't a speech issue. It's not clear that's the case, though.

The question is will the prospective employee behave in a manner that creates liability for the company, be that, for example, through sexual or racial harrassment, given that this applicant either espouses those views or is friendly to them through his current actions as a moderator of a website where such views are expressed.

Likewise, a school superintendent will probably pass on hiring an applicant who is associated with pedophiliac expression, to avoid the potential for children getting sexually molested (as well as liability to the school district — actually, that is probably the primary motivation these days).

I get your point that it seems like a grey area. But in a marketplace of ideas, employers are free to turn down applicants who do not meet unprotected criteria.

That is, while you can't turn down an applicant on the basis of age, race or gender, you can turn down someone for not being qualified for the job, or who will put your organization at risk of being sued because of behavior. Those are the criteria being used here, I believe.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:17 AM on May 9, 2007


I read Prof. Althouse's blog entry where she defends herself from that "despicable lie." I also looked at what she calls a "breastblog," the one that XQUZYPHYR linked to.

Professor, you're full of it. You don't actually call her a "whore," but what's so much less offensive about this: "... her attendence at the luncheon dressed in the guise of Monica Lewinsky"? On the despicability scale, you're pushing the needle pretty high.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:19 AM on May 9, 2007 [4 favorites]


If Ciolli's law firm had some reasonable and articulable grounds to think he would be bad at the job, then you're right, this isn't a speech issue. It's not clear that's the case, though.

Jobs like this require a certain demeanor outside of work as well as inside. You can't be a "prestigious" law firm if you hire notorious assholes, and so he would be, by definition, bad at his job.
posted by delmoi at 7:20 AM on May 9, 2007


You were able to find straight answers? I found the amount of time required to sort through all of the racist/sexist noise a zero sum game, when I could go to Law School Discussion or the Non-Trad LS boards and find the same information in much less time.

The site has basically imploded in the last few months. In its heyday, though, I found it much more useful than LSD.

I attended a T14, and everyone was pretty decent. I don't know where that person upthread was coming from.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:24 AM on May 9, 2007


Kirth: All I can say is read the whole thing in context and try to have a sense of humor while you're doing it.

Someone up there quotes me as saying "Jessica's breasts are definitely a distraction," but here's the whole quote int context: "The real sticking point for the people who are pissed at me is that they love Clinton and they know that what this post and the other one were really about was him. Jessica's breasts are definitely a distraction, but personally I'm not distracted. This is about Clinton and the abject support women have given him."

Deal with it. Yeah, I'm just terrible. That's so much easier than facing up to the real problem, which is how feminists sold out to Democratic Party interests.
posted by Alizaria at 7:24 AM on May 9, 2007


"[If]you moderate, edit, or prune comments on your online forum -- or blog -- in any way at all then you stop being able to defend yourself as a common carrier and become a publisher who is, indeed, liable for the content that they publish."

this is a common line of reasoning on the internet ... there's just one problem with it - the courts have yet to establish that the "common carrier" defense applies to the internet ... in fact, some isp's have argued against it

it's a complicated, thorny question and a blanket "you have common carrier status and could lose it" is not accurate
posted by pyramid termite at 7:26 AM on May 9, 2007


Watch out XQUZYPHYR, you've reminded Althouse of the Jessica Valenti BREAST CONTROVERSY!

THIS IS THE GREATEST MOMENT OF MY LIFE EVAR.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:26 AM on May 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


AutoAdmit, "The most prestigious college discussion board in the world".

It's like how countries with 'democratic' in their name tend to be anything but. If you have to describe yourself as prestigious, you probably aren't. Not to mention the absurdity of a message board being "prestigious".
posted by Aloysius Bear at 7:26 AM on May 9, 2007


I must say, this thread which is likely to become a bit of an epic, gladdens my heart for the most part. Yay team. My favourite snip (and I've actually read everything linked here) is the law professor stating that if they had been a commenter at AA they would be 'sweating bullets' about now - forget where that came from.

What would gladden my heart even more would be for one of the slandered women to sue AA and subpoena for disclosure of identifying details of the fuckwad sexual violence advocates. Perhaps that might have some measure of moderating influence on behaviour.
posted by peacay at 7:27 AM on May 9, 2007


you know, it must be depressing as hell to know that you're going to be best remembered by what you said about someone else's breasts
posted by pyramid termite at 7:28 AM on May 9, 2007 [6 favorites]


I presume that the reason that law students are such jerks is because they show up to law school with such a sense of entitlement and fantasies that they'll be law partners making millions before they're 40.

Eh... Not to deflate your, ah, enthusiasm, but a good chunk of my classmates came from fairly wealthy/influential backgrounds, so the sense of privilege in some cases came with, but as to partners making millions... the average age of my class was something like 26. If you're at a firm for 14 years and you're not a partner, you're never gonna be. (if you haven't left by 8, time to go; you're a grinder) And yeah, most of my friends are now looking elsewhere. Looking with a couple of houses earning rent to soften the blow.

Maybe I should rent off one of them.
posted by dreamsign at 7:31 AM on May 9, 2007


My mom taught me not to talk about people's breasts, especially in public. I pretty much hold to that.
posted by MarshallPoe at 7:36 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


I attended a T14, and everyone was pretty decent. I don't know where that person upthread was coming from.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:24 AM on May 9 [+] [!]

If I am the person upthread that you are referring to, I had never heard the term T14 until this thread, and my state only had one law school when I was choosing a school, and so I went there, so my experience may have been different from other people's.
posted by ND¢ at 7:36 AM on May 9, 2007


a good chunk of my classmates came from fairly wealthy/influential backgrounds

Hm. I always pictured law & medicine were as the middle-class man's way to getting rich and had this fantasy that the truly wealthy/influential ended up in investment banking or careers where one didn't have to debase oneself by rubbing shoulders with people going to graduate school as a means of social advancement, except maybe for an MBA which would be spent mostly on local golf-courses.

And I used "40" because people picturing themselves making millions before the age of 30 just sounded tacky.
posted by deanc at 7:38 AM on May 9, 2007


More AutoAdmit/Althouse fun: one, two, three.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:39 AM on May 9, 2007


I'm pretty sick of the way that meme about me has infected the internet, and I can't figure out what to do about it other than to hope that people learn that much of what people write is trash.

Ann, while you're here, I'd like to point out that this is not the first website where I've seen you jump in to scream about how horrible it is people are mentioning the ludicrous and unfair attack you made on Valenti. Your problem here is that when you do this, everyone very quickly finds the overwhelming evidence that you're full of horseshit.

I'm no legal expert, but since you seem to be desperate to hide your activities, here's some free advice on how the internet works: when you keep running into message boards whining, for example, "will you all stop talking about how I killed that hobo," odds are Google will very shortly experience an uptick in the search phrase "Althouse hobo murder." Are we learning yet?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:41 AM on May 9, 2007 [21 favorites]


All I can say is read the whole thing in context and try to have a sense of humor while you're doing it.

Oh, I always have that. So, you're saying that:

A. It was all in good fun - just a lot of kidding, really.

B. It was about Clinton and how the feminist movement sold out to the Democrats' agenda.

On A, you need to work on your delivery. And get some better material. Much better.

As for B, I'll take your word for it that those were your motivations. It doesn't receive that way at all. It comes across as your being unable to let go of Bill Clinton's private life, as he was living it eight years ago. To demonstrate how very important that is, you use an innocent bystander who happened to be wearing a top that revealed the fact that she has breasts, and intimated that she was somehow being flirtatious. Which she was not, to my objective (but highly sensitive, believe me) eye. Do you really not see how doing that, and defending doing it with Lewinsky references, is wrong?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:42 AM on May 9, 2007


If you have to describe yourself as prestigious, you probably aren't. Not to mention the absurdity of a message board being "prestigious".

You're right, that is absurd. It's almost as though the slogan were chosen ironically.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:43 AM on May 9, 2007


And on posting, MarshallPoe's got it:

"My mom taught me not to talk about people's breasts, especially in public. I pretty much hold to that."

That these overentitled law school brats find it not only appropriate but amusing to post rape threats and everything else you can think of about their fellow classmates explains a whole lot about why women sometimes choose the mommy track instead of shooting for partner.

Having worked for one of the big three as a financial advisor (as one of only 3 women in an office of 55 brokers) I saw all kinds of ultra-juvenile behavior -- and always from the younger guys, never from the older ones who were considerably more classy, albeit obsessed with high school football. This kid wouldn't have gotten past the background check there, either. And even if he had, he probably would've gotten fired like my officemate did, for schtupping our (married) secretary on his desk after hours. No big loss.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:46 AM on May 9, 2007


It would be great if the firm that rescinded the job offer to Ciolli instead offered that position one of the women that had been targeted and smeared on AA.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:48 AM on May 9, 2007 [5 favorites]


I always pictured law & medicine were as the middle-class man's way to getting rich and had this fantasy that the truly wealthy/influential ended up in investment banking or careers where one didn't have to debase oneself by rubbing shoulders with people going to graduate school as a means of social advancement, except maybe for an MBA which would be spent mostly on local golf-courses.

Maybe medicine is like that. I thought my law school would be of mixed ethnicities and social classes but it turned out to be full of white middle-to-upper class people. I was actually rather shocked. Slightly more women to men, though. And rather more diverse personalities, interests, and experiences than I expected, happily.

And I used "40" because people picturing themselves making millions before the age of 30 just sounded tacky.

Wait, you're talking USD, right? Then I suppose. Though it might startle you as to what it costs to buy into a partnership in the first place. I had no idea you even had to.

Oh and golf, don't get me started. Ugh.
posted by dreamsign at 7:50 AM on May 9, 2007


Good point MJV. And don't worry, this dude will get a job.
posted by Mister_A at 7:50 AM on May 9, 2007


Yeah, Mister_A, probably for some "men's rights" law firm... ;)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:53 AM on May 9, 2007


From what I gather (from a very superficial reading, I am not that concerned about events) the story is

1. law firm chooses not to hire somebody

and that's perfectly legitimate, maybe sad for the unlucky (?) one , but it's worth a who cares.


Now let' see the merit of their choice

2. as above, because of his behing somehow implicated in a blog

uhmm...yeah. Make sense...NOT. I could understand a law firm (or any firm) expelling an associate (yeah, like Walmart only more glamorous) because of his/her newfound fame (deserved or not) of being a scoundrel, a liar, a cheat ..whatever.

And I would restrict this to event that have some mediatic impact or extremely well know proved events in a closed community...something making clamor like, for instance, being caught using a penis pump during a judgement (nothing wrong with illusions per se , except that people still clamor about unusual practices)

My take is that somebody with some power got hurt somehow and decided to kick some ass in retribution ; the image concern is possible and even plausibile, but not realistic.

On a tangent: viva the internet relative anonymity ! Cause I can write you all are a bunch of asshole for the trill of it :) without being sued and without enriching selectively litigious lawyers.
posted by elpapacito at 7:56 AM on May 9, 2007


MetaFilter: a bunch of asshole for the trill of it :)
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:00 AM on May 9, 2007


Metafilter: from what I gather (from a very superficial reading, I am not that concerned about events) the story is...
posted by NekulturnY at 8:04 AM on May 9, 2007


...instead offered that position one of the women that had been targeted and smeared on AA.

Well madamjujujive, that would be confusing self-interest with humanity. Let's be real: the law firm didn't pull back the offer on the basis of decency. It was all self-interest. It's always self-interest with these people. They deserve NONE of the kudos they are getting in this thread.
posted by three blind mice at 8:05 AM on May 9, 2007


Right, TBM. That's why philanthropic positions in law have to fight off hundreds of candidates for every position. Because these people are all about X.

Do tell about other fields of endeavour. I can't wait to hear what all teachers are about or what all engineers want of the world.
posted by dreamsign at 8:09 AM on May 9, 2007


From what I gather (from a very superficial reading, I am not that concerned about events)

My take is that somebody with some power got hurt somehow and decided to kick some ass in retribution ; the image concern is possible and even plausibile, but not realistic.

Yes, because here at the Bitter-Girl Law Firm, LLC, we think it's a great idea to hire some asshat who believes posting rape threats about his fellow law students is supermega-OK!

The firm in question was covering their ass, no doubt about it. What if the women start suing? Do you really want one of your first year associates tied up in litigation that doesn't bring in billable hours for the firm?

It wasn't that someone in power got hurt and decided to strike back, it's that some women who were in a position of very little power (being unable to respond to these jerks appropriately and even losing their own job offers as a result of Auto Admit's postings) got some PR-light on the situation and the AA's own actions turned around and bit them in the ass.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:10 AM on May 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


They deserve NONE of the kudos they are getting in this thread.

Not even a cookie? Pish and tosh! Really, I don't so much care why people do the right thing, so long as they do the right thing.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:15 AM on May 9, 2007


This was in one of bitter-girl.com's Pandagon links, but I don't think it's been linked to directly: Hi, I'm Jill, and scummy law school sleazebags have gone after me, too.
posted by felix grundy at 8:18 AM on May 9, 2007


This was in one of bitter-girl.com's Pandagon links, but I don't think it's been linked to directly: Hi, I'm Jill, and scummy law school sleazebags have gone after me, too.

From one of the comments in the above linked blog post:
"Bad guys (and/or girls) will find their own level, a sort of Mos Eisley hive of scum and villainy where anonymity is key to the quasi-legal or outright illegal things they do."

Outstanding metaphor. Thanks for posting that link.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:30 AM on May 9, 2007


Ok, I can't resist, it's just too easy...

Metafilter: a sort of Mos Eisley hive of scum and villainy where anonymity is key
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:34 AM on May 9, 2007


some women who were in a position of very little power (being unable to respond to these jerks appropriately and even losing their own job offers as a result of Auto Admit's postings)

Well if she really felt threatened, then she probably had reason to believe the threat was very plausibile , not just a bunch of jerks on the net.

I find it hard to believe a woman feels threatened by some asshole on the net, UNLESS the woman knows the person and knows the person knows enough about her or is stalking her. I am not saying she knee jerk reacted, but I can't exclude it either.

Additionally, if there is an actual threat then I would be concerned about her safety and phone police or find help from friends and relatives, whereas "shining pr-light" seems retaliation for (even if well deserved) retaliation shake.
posted by elpapacito at 8:38 AM on May 9, 2007


Reason #125243 to remain anonymous on the internet.
posted by dios at 8:39 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Free speech can still have consequences, the First Amendment doesn't protect you from descisions made by private actors. Don't they teach that in Constitutional Law at UPENN?

"The comments on the WSJ blog post are full of whining about how the First Amendment is being violated, except of course the First Amendment doesn't apply to private actors and the government isn't involved in the slightest here. [My correspondent writes that he/she is] a little ashamed that my fellow lawyers and law students misunderstood Constitutional Law so fundamentally.

This is the power of the market in all its glory, nothing more and nothing less. Law firms will not risk their ability to attract valuable clients on a 23-year-old who endorses violently homophobic, racist, and sexist threats. I think the law firm was absolutely in the right here."*
posted by ericb at 8:39 AM on May 9, 2007


<>I find it hard to believe a woman feels threatened by some asshole on the net, UNLESS the woman knows the person and knows the person knows enough about her or is stalking her. I am not saying she knee jerk reacted, but I can't exclude it either.

Jesus, why not? On a journalism forum I used to be associated with, we had an increasingly angry guy accusing first me and then others of targeting him and then of committing crimes; he posted my address, announced he was going to come to our convention and have it out with me, etc. Our executive committee wound up adding security at the hotel to watch out for him but he apparently never showed up. I think internet threats should be taken very seriously.
posted by etaoin at 8:46 AM on May 9, 2007


I find it hard to believe a woman feels threatened by some asshole on the net, UNLESS the woman knows the person and knows the person knows enough about her or is stalking her. I am not saying she knee jerk reacted, but I can't exclude it either.

They were posting photos of their fellow, female law students at the gym, walking around campus, etc from their camera phones!! How in the hell is that NOT stalking?!

This isn't just me writing "elpapacito is a total dickwad and I'd like to crush his throat with a hammer" on MeFi (not that I would -- sheesh! just an example here!), because I don't know you, you don't know me and we've got a big old ocean between us. This is physical stalking and harassment of actual fellow students, not to mention the overall trash-talking about female bloggers and other people they may or may not actually know in real life. This is posting lies about women which have actually prevented *them* from getting jobs.

It's not only a potential physical threat, it's an emotional and financial threat, too. How dare these uppity women at Yale and elsewhere think their perfect grades and internships entitle them to a job after law school? Why, I never! We better take them down a peg.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:48 AM on May 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


That's so much easier than facing up to the real problem, which is how feminists sold out to Democratic Party interests.

So you redressed this grievance by demeaning the (female) perpetrators based on the way they used their bodies in ways that you didn't approve of?

...! Do you even understand what feminism is?
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 8:50 AM on May 9, 2007 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: Althouse hobo murder
posted by trondant at 8:52 AM on May 9, 2007 [4 favorites]


I think internet threats should be taken very seriously.
Well, these with divulgation of one's whereabouts I would take seriously, not every thread for any reason. That's clear evidence one isn't just dealing with another vociferous idiot.
They were posting photos of their fellow, female law students at the gym, walking around campus, etc from their camera phones!! How in the hell is that NOT stalking?!
Now that's interesting, definitely creepy and again more evidence they know where she is. If we combine it with the following :

overall trash-talking about female bloggers and other people they may or may not actually know in real life

imho , that is an element that makes the threat more plasubile, but taken alone it's just sexist "trash" deserving rational comebacks, even discussion , but simple emotive reaction would be like taking a troll's bait, it only makes the troll happy.

This is posting lies about women which have actually prevented *them* from getting jobs.

If the employer believes what is written on a site or , similarly, everyday vitriol gossip then we have one foolish employer.

One could argue that the mere presence of slander could make somebody suspicious about its veracity and therefore damage the slandered, but that's pure speculation as the employer may as well have discarded that information as inaccurate and not hired X , because somebody else made a better impression.

Why, I never! We better take them down a peg.

Gossip, gossip gossip. It's probably a lot easier to identify this behavior for what it is, pure sensation, pure slander. I guess lawyers should be among the first to see-truth this kind of bullshit and dissmiss it for what its worth.
posted by elpapacito at 9:07 AM on May 9, 2007


I Googled Autoadmit hotties….
Old Gypsy woman
spoke to me. Lips stained red
from a bottle of wine.

What was... I seem to be.... driven to... Your honor I rest my case.
posted by MapGuy at 9:09 AM on May 9, 2007


Um, yeah. So let me guess, you wouldn't be concerned if folks posted up your address and pictures of you online? How about your children?

See, the problem is, even if the person posting the stuff is too much of a coward to do anything, online, it's always one click away from someone crazy enough who will.
posted by yeloson at 9:10 AM on May 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Reason #125243 to remain anonymous on the internet.

Of course, following the Golden Rule is always in fashion, too. Not as much fun, true, but it's easier to look at yourself in the mirror the next day.
posted by pax digita at 9:11 AM on May 9, 2007


Reason #125243 to remain anonymous on the internet.

Wow. I mean, holy shit. Really. This is about how a bunch of anonymous site posters took advantage of anonymity to abuse and harass women, and your conclusion is that the problem here was the owner of the site not being anonymous as well?

I cannot, for the life of me, imagine a coherent way one could have completely missed the point of this story more. I am truly in awe.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:12 AM on May 9, 2007 [6 favorites]


Mr. Ciolli. Here is a dime. Take it, call your mother, and tell her there is serious doubt about you ever becoming a lawyer.

"You teach yourself the law, but I train your mind. You come in here with skull full of mush and you leave thinking liking a lawyer."
posted by ericb at 9:13 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here's a brief rundown on 1st Amendment fighting words doctrine.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:15 AM on May 9, 2007


Reason #125243 to remain anonymous on the internet.

Funny, the lesson I took away from this was: Reason #125243 to not act like a cock in public.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:16 AM on May 9, 2007


Of course, following the Golden Rule is always in fashion, too. Not as much fun, true, but it's easier to look at yourself in the mirror the next day.
posted by pax digita at 11:11 AM on May 9[


I'm not sure what you mean by that as a retort to my comment. Or maybe I wasn't specific enough with my comment.

The reason I was referring to is that in the professional world, employers do background searches on you. And it only takes a handful of bad actors or vindictive pricks to cause a problem. This guy got in trouble because he was associated with something that other people botched up. If his involvement with AutoAdmit had been anonymous, then the actions of the other people wouldn't have effected him at all. One has to be careful because even if one acts as a saint, there are other people out there whose actions one does not control who can cause negative attention for one.

Now if you are working at a computer help desk, having your name attached to something controversial may not be a big deal. But if you are in the professional world, you don't want your name attached to anything controversial because it can only have negative consequences.
posted by dios at 9:18 AM on May 9, 2007


what a pussy. three years wasted because one firm didn't like him? some time i'll tell you how many firms didn't like me! i ended up starting my own.
posted by bruce at 9:19 AM on May 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


but that's pure speculation as the employer may as well have discarded that information as inaccurate and not hired X , because somebody else made a better impression.

From here:
She graduated Phi Beta Kappa, has published in top legal journals and completed internships at leading institutions in her field. So when the Yale law student interviewed with 16 firms for a job this summer, she was concerned that she had only four call-backs. She was stunned when she had zero offers.

[...]

The woman and two others interviewed by The Washington Post learned from friends that they were the subject of derogatory chats on a widely read message board on AutoAdmit...
Yes, because Phi Beta Kappa Yalies are such a hiring liability, and make such bad impressions in interviews. Damn. How am I not getting my point across here? Getting linked to hobo murders or whatever other crazy-assed stuff someone might post about you online is a great way to scare an employer off, particularly a law firm who wants to shy away from hiring potentially controversial associates. This isn't the MySpace pirate-drinking-photo episode where you could argue her own actions caused the end result.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:21 AM on May 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


Now if you are working at a computer help desk, having your name attached to something controversial may not be a big deal.

cold-blooded.
posted by ND¢ at 9:24 AM on May 9, 2007


Witch is to say
I Googled Autoadmit hotties….
Old Gypsy woman
spoke to me. Lips stained red
from a bottle of wine.

What was... I seem to be.... driven to... Your honor I rest my case.
posted by MapGuy at 9:25 AM on May 9, 2007


elpapacito, do you always engage in arguments with such energy after admitting that you are ignorant about the facts under discussion?
posted by peacay at 9:25 AM on May 9, 2007


warning: misogyny ahead. Extreme misogyny ahead.

from another Feministe post about AutoAdmit:

Am I a thin-skinned whiner for thinking those posts are beyond the pale? How about if several people wrote the following things about you, or your sister, wife, daughter or friend:

“I want to brutally rape that Jill slut”
“I’m 98% sure that she should be raped (if only in Internet Land)”
“Official Jill Filipovic RAPE Thread”


These are just the first three of a long list; I had copied the whole list but I couldn't quite stomach having my name that close to the festering lot of it.

These aren't minor moderation issues, or difficult questions about whether the board is getting too fractious. If the board is being moderated at all, these topics have no place in the discussion.
posted by felix grundy at 9:27 AM on May 9, 2007


peacay:

nah only when I don't know if the source(s) are reliable , don't want to spend energy collecting facts and think there could be a debate potential..it's not about the facts, it's about how we think about them.
posted by elpapacito at 9:29 AM on May 9, 2007


BitchPhD has the best answer to all the "but, but, what about free speech" whiners . . .

live by the sword, die by the sword, motherfucker.
posted by spitbull at 9:30 AM on May 9, 2007


What? You mean Internet Land rape is no longer a prerequisite for admission to law school?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:30 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


some time i'll tell you how many firms didn't like me! i ended up starting my own.

I can just imagine.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:31 AM on May 9, 2007


Sounds like the law firm wanted to hire people with good judgement. This guy obviously doesn't have any. Too bad.
posted by rtha at 9:41 AM on May 9, 2007


Now if you are working at a computer help desk, having your name attached to something controversial may not be a big deal.

I used to work at a help desk years back, and like most people in the service industry they get treated like shit for helping out snotty clients. It can be a tough job, I really empathize with them.

I've since moved on to some server administration and research programming. I don't know how professional those jobs are, but I was subjected to a typical background check, references etc. Lucky for me that my employer didn't ask me to pretend to be a lawyer at the time I applied for those jobs, so I guess I'll never have the opportunity to find out if I'm really a professional.

I'd ask, but it might result in one of those "if you have to ask" kind of answers, you know?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:41 AM on May 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


it's not about the facts, it's about how we think about them

I don't know whether to laugh or cry on this one. Future criminal prosecutors, listen up! It's not about whether the defendant killed that hobo, it's about how you think about the facts relating to the defendant who may or may not have killed that hobo.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:52 AM on May 9, 2007


it's not about the facts, it's about how we think about them

Give this man an op-ed column in a major daily newspaper!
posted by deanc at 9:55 AM on May 9, 2007


I am just glad you guys weren’t upset by
this post on autoadmit

So are the founders of Google responsible for linking to hate speech or providing information to an insurgency therefore making them an accessory to unlawful combatants? See ya’ in Gitmo!
posted by MapGuy at 9:56 AM on May 9, 2007


Yeah, dios, that was unnecessarily smacking of condescension - it reads that way even if you had other intentions. I know what you're saying, but in this day and age whether your occupation is described as a profession and took years of education or you are less educated and trying for a placement in the business world in any halfway decent job, it's equally likely that background checks will be run. I understand that losing the hard earned credentials is the crux of your thoughts here but for the great majority of people, their track record and employability are of equal importance to them. The consequences from net shenanigans can be devastating in either case.

And elpapacito, thanks. That comment is a monument to something.
posted by peacay at 10:01 AM on May 9, 2007


Late to the party, but oh hell:

Metafilter: In its heyday, though, I found it much more useful than LSD.
posted by Challahtronix at 10:06 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Now if you are working at a computer help desk, having your name attached to something controversial may not be a big deal. But if you are in the professional world....

Wow. As somebody who is right now working at a pathetic and lowly "computer help desk" I feel as if I just stepped into a cheesy eighties movie where you are William Zabka and I am just going about my work and you and a bunch of professionals pull up in an IROC and start pouring soda on me while high-fiving and laughing.

I'm not (usually) a fan of argumentum ad hominem , but you are a prick and I make more money then you.
posted by lattiboy at 10:08 AM on May 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


Comparing a search engine to a moderated message board is kind of a specious argument, isn't it? Accountability-wise?
posted by felix grundy at 10:13 AM on May 9, 2007


I took your comment, dios, along the lines of alt.sysadmin.recovery.

No one in that newsgroup would ever post the name of their employer, peer, or employee. Threats of spikey-clubbed, poisoned-edged, LARTs being used about on the PHB down the cube row were made all the time. But never was a client/co-worker/boss/company ever named.

Maybe us "help-desk" non-important folks are just a bit wiser than you lawyer types.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 10:13 AM on May 9, 2007


Yeah, dios, that was unnecessarily smacking of condescension - it reads that way even if you had other intentions.

Hmm. Well, I didn't intend it so. It's just the first computer job that popped into my head. If you are applying to a computer related job, I would think having lots of internet experience and running something like a forum would probably be a good thing. And those people hiring you would probably be understanding of that activities that occur on a forum.

I was contrasting that with the three professions: ministry, medicine and law. In those cases, the professionalism, ethical standards, and impeccability of the credentials are important not only getting the job, but in getting clients. And in those cases, you want to avoid any sort of negative reputation and involvement on the internet is only going to lead to problems because there is no good to come out of it.

I can tell you the first thing I do when I get a case with a new attorney is google them and find out everything I can about them. And I am sure that people looking for an attorney or a doctor google them as well.

Anthony Ciolli should have known that having an internet presence was not going to help him get a job. It would only be a detriment. As beginning his career, he should have avoided anything that could have ethics or professionalism compromised. If you are a professional interested in progressing their career and you want to do stuff on the internet, then you ought to remain anonymous on things you do on the internet. You never know what will happen once you lose anonymity, and it will only be a negative.
posted by dios at 10:16 AM on May 9, 2007


Wow. They love their hate threads, don't they?
posted by jokeefe at 10:17 AM on May 9, 2007


My understanding is that there is no proof of Jarret Cohen's existence and that Ciolli invented him. He's widely seen as dellusional and has not been honest about the site since its conception. A number of people have told me that he runs the site by himself and has created this Cohen character to take the flak while reserving some title like Education Officer to himself. Furthermore, while he never posted terrible stuff under the GTO moniker (his public face) it seems pretty obvious to anyone who has followed the story that a significant number of other monikers are his. The site is essentially his racist playground and when he was caught he keeps referring to his imaginary friend (which he magically seems to know what he's thinking at any point in time).
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:24 AM on May 9, 2007


dios, I knew what you were driving at, and I apologize if I gave you the impression I was "retorting" to anything. I merely wanted to point out that, as an alternative to resorting to anonymity to avoid backlash for doing something one may regret, don't do anything regrettable to start with. IOW, yes, anonymity might work, but so too might civility. Clearer?
posted by pax digita at 10:26 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, while we have Ann Althouse here, I wonder if I can ask why she ended up not coming to the Harvard Law panel on this subject. I heard conflicting stories and am just curious (and a little peeved that she has a lower # than me).
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:31 AM on May 9, 2007


I was contrasting that with the three professions: ministry, medicine and law

First off, sorry about the attacks. Don't get me wrong, what you posted sounded terribly conceited and shitty, but I don't know you at all and shouldn't jump to conclusions off of one comment. Also, the money comment was shitty of me and I don't wish to sully any tiny rep I have on MF as I love this place.

Secondly, your view of professionalism seems totally tied to an almost classical view of the world. You seem to think that somehow those are the only professions (which OED perhaps says), and accordingly the only people capable of being professionals. Mortgage brokers, consulting firms, and many other careers depend just as much (if not more) on reputation and knowledge than the "holy trinity" of jobs you listed.
posted by lattiboy at 10:39 AM on May 9, 2007


allen.spaulding--Can you link to any of the speculation you're talking about? This post is the first I've heard of these guys, so I have no reason to believe that one of them is made up.
posted by OmieWise at 10:43 AM on May 9, 2007


The irony, of course, is that getting away with unprofessionalism requires anonymity.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:44 AM on May 9, 2007


allen.spaulding--Can you link to any of the speculation you're talking about?

I attended a forum hosted by Charles Nesson at Harvard Law School on Autoadmit. There was speculation among students and faculty after the event that Cohen was not real. People there seemed to know a lot more about the situation than most of the recent media coverage and it made sense at the time.
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:45 AM on May 9, 2007


MapGuy writes 'I am just glad you guys weren’t upset by ' this post on autoadmit

Whutchoo talkin' about Willis?

Nobody's preventing anybody from linking to anything, or sending anyone to Gitmo.

If you think Ciollo is so smart, there's nothing stopping *you* from paying his goddamned wages.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:45 AM on May 9, 2007


Well, I just spent a little while Googling combinations of jarret cohen allentown insurance, and I couldn't find any evidence of the guy that isn't an article about Autoadmit. But, I don't claim to have good skills in that department.
posted by OmieWise at 10:53 AM on May 9, 2007


I wanted to point out that, as an alternative to resorting to anonymity to avoid backlash for doing something one may regret, don't do anything regrettable to start with. IOW, yes, anonymity might work, but so too might civility. Clearer?
posted by pax digita at 12:26 PM on May 9


You are still missing my point. This guy could have been a saint. The problem is that his name was attached to a forum where bad stuff went down. In other words, no matter what he did, the actions of others could negatively impact upon him.

The anonymity I am talking about has nothing to do with being able to do thing regrettably without consequences. It is to avoid the actions of others which might impact you. You can't control other people on the internet, so being anonymous is imperative. There is another law student who got in hot water on autoadmit where the people went out and registered at sites like Stormfront with that person's name and made comments claiming to be him. So when he is googled, it pops up. There are vindictive assholes out there. By giving them your name and identity, you give them the power to mess with you and mess up your life.

I can tell you this: I maintain my anonymity on this site not because of anything I do or say, but because I don't want to be associated with other or give the group of pathetic littles shits on this site who are obsessed with me (it's pretty to spot) the ability to do something which would adversely effect me. As a general rule in all of life: if you can't control what other people do with information or the value of the people who get it, and the control of that information has any value, then you should not part with the information.
posted by dios at 11:01 AM on May 9, 2007


dios - Ciolli included his role at AutoAdmit on his resume. He really is nuts.
posted by allen.spaulding at 11:02 AM on May 9, 2007


Here's the summary from the Harvard panel. The wikipedia page for AA mentioned that:
"Also invited to attend, but later disinvited for uncertain reasons, were AutoAdmit's founder and owner, Jarret Cohen, and Anthony Ciolli, former Chief Education Director of AutoAdmit, as well as Professor Ann Althouse of University of Wisconsin Law School."
Yeah, OmieWise, I also had a bit of a look around. The lack of material seems odd but I didn't bring my strong foo to the task.
posted by peacay at 11:02 AM on May 9, 2007


dios - Ciolli included his role at AutoAdmit on his resume. He really is nuts.
posted by allen.spaulding at 1:02 PM on May 9


Yeah, he is an idiot. In what realm of reality is he under the assumption that having that on his resume would help him get a job at a law firm? It wouldn't. There are three options for things on a resume: help, hurt, or no effect. If you take off "help" as an option, it either is hurt or no effect. Not very good reasons to include it, then.
posted by dios at 11:06 AM on May 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Future criminal prosecutors, listen up! It's not about whether the defendant killed that hobo, it's about how you think about the facts relating to the defendant who may or may not have killed that hobo.

Nice spin, but I haven't suggested any prosecutor to discard facts in favour of their own opinions about the defendant. One should certainly look for facts, but I didn't bother this time (as announced) as I was looking for how we _think_ about facts (it's about how we think about )

For instance, some tought I was suggesting to dismiss facts _entirely_ ..see bitter-girl. I was expecting some snarky remarks and peacay seem to have produced nice ones..while still being somehow in doubt. I kind of expected some group attacking me for appearing to be on the side of some asshole, but so far so good.

As for the FACTS themselves, it seems they may deserve the attention of some competent prosecutor....what if among the bunch of assholes somebody isn't pranking ?

And elpapacito, thanks. That comment is a monument to something.

Cognitive dissonance, maybe.
posted by elpapacito at 11:07 AM on May 9, 2007


So basically don't participate, even civilly, as yourself lest you be unfairly painted with the same broad brush? If you can't be totally in control of what everybody's saying on any venue where you want to participate, than stay anonymous?

As we used to say where I grew up: I'll consider the source.
posted by pax digita at 11:13 AM on May 9, 2007


I think he's foolish for having such a central role at AutoAdmit, but I think it's courageous that Ciolli put his name out there, standing tall. You just don't see that kind of courage any more; it's a lot easier to hide behind a veil of anonymity and say something snide and insulting, than to man up and own to it with your own name.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:13 AM on May 9, 2007


As for the FACTS themselves, it seems they may deserve the attention of some competent prosecutor

Not really. The only significant fact in this "case" was stated succinctly upthread:

"[Most] Law firms will not risk their ability to attract valuable clients on a 23-year-old who endorses violently homophobic, racist, and sexist threats."

Feel free to argue that firms should, but the fact is, Mr. Ciolli's prospective firm won't.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:19 AM on May 9, 2007


Secondly, your view of professionalism seems totally tied to an almost classical view of the world. You seem to think that somehow those are the only professions (which OED perhaps says), and accordingly the only people capable of being professionals. Mortgage brokers, consulting firms, and many other careers depend just as much (if not more) on reputation and knowledge than the "holy trinity" of jobs you listed.

There are only three professions traditionally because the focus is not on the degree of skill or reputation need for the job, the focus is on the ethics attached thereto. Those three professions require that their members profess to be bound by their code of ethics and standards and understand why those standards are necessary, failing which they cannot practice at all. That is not true for mortgage brokers or consultants (or computer help desk works, or butchers or bakers or candlestick makers). If a doctor fails to meet the obligations of his practice, he may not be able to practice anymore. If a lawyer sleeps with his client, then he may not be able to practice anymore. If a mortgage broker does something bad, they just merely lose their job. It has nothing to do with pay. It has to do with the ethical obligations and the shared understanding of the necessity for those obligations.

Calling something a "profession: does not have a qualitative judgment attached to the word. It is purely descriptive. The word has been come to mean "job," but that is not the sense I was using it.
posted by dios at 11:21 AM on May 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Willis jumped the shark a long time ago.
posted by MapGuy at 11:24 AM on May 9, 2007


Here's the summary from the Harvard panel

More on the April 5th, 2007 Internet Speech Panel at Harvard Law - and a recording of the event.
posted by ericb at 11:32 AM on May 9, 2007


For IT professionals, accessing someone's private account data without permission and/or sharing it with the world also means that, in addition to getting fired, he or she will never work in that field again due to the violation of privacy. Nonetheless, despite the ethical considerations required for handling sensitive data anywhere in IT, I should inform my coworkers that this is not a profession in the sense we are permitted to use.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:33 AM on May 9, 2007


The anonymity I am talking about has nothing to do with being able to do thing regrettably without consequences. It is to avoid the actions of others which might impact you. You can't control other people on the internet, so being anonymous is imperative. There is another law student who got in hot water on autoadmit where the people went out and registered at sites like Stormfront with that person's name and made comments claiming to be him.

What Ciolli did is closer to being the administrator of the Stormfront board.
posted by transona5 at 11:38 AM on May 9, 2007


If a mortgage broker does something bad, they just merely lose their job.

Uh, no -- a mortgage can lose their license and be prohibited from practicing again -- as can stock brokers, investment bankers, etc. who breach the ethical and/or legal requirments of their licenses (see Henry Blodget, Frank Quattrone, etc.).
posted by ericb at 11:43 AM on May 9, 2007


*a mortgage broker*
posted by ericb at 11:43 AM on May 9, 2007


There are only three professions traditionally because the focus is not on the degree of skill or reputation need for the job, the focus is on the ethics attached thereto. Those three professions require that their members profess to be bound by their code of ethics and standards and understand why those standards are necessary, failing which they cannot practice at all......If a mortgage broker does something bad, they just merely lose their job. It has nothing to do with pay. It has to do with the ethical obligations and the shared understanding of the necessity for those obligations.

You must not be familiar with the the Mortgage Lending Divisions of most states. There are a plethora of murky ethical situations in the job (my sis is one and I worked in the business for a bit) and there is a state sanctioned board that deals with complaints and quite frequently does repeal the licenses of brokers, loan officers, and others.

As far as medical, legal, and civil service careers.... perhaps historically these positions carry some kind of ethical structure that supersedes personal gain, but anymore it seems almost anachronistic to say that lawyers, doctors, and bureaucrats have any sort of elevated sense of ethics or a body which would enforce them with any real vigor.

Think of the legal community and of the people within it that day in and day out abuse and misuse the law. Now think of how many people actually get disbarred....
posted by lattiboy at 11:45 AM on May 9, 2007


For IT professionals ... I should inform my coworkers that this is not a profession

Blazecock Pileon, you know perfectly well what dios means by the word professional, and yet you continue to try and bait him. As the OED says, "profession" (in the sense that dios is using) is "Applied spec[ifically] to the three learned professions of divinity, law, and medicine; also to the military profession."

Saying that other careers aren't professions is not pejorative — it's just a descriptive term. It doesn't imply people in IT aren't professional, or anything like that.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 11:48 AM on May 9, 2007


"Also, while we have Ann Althouse here, I wonder if I can ask why she ended up not coming to the Harvard Law panel on this subject."

I was initially invited and given a choice whether to attend in person or via web conferencing (as Glenn Reynolds had done for the Berkman Center conference in 2006, which I attended in person). I was on spring break and already in the middle of a trip, so I opted for the long-distance participation. Then a few days before the conference, they told me that somehow they didn't have the technology to do it. Make what you will of it.
posted by Alizaria at 11:49 AM on May 9, 2007


Even heads of international lending institutions are held to ethical standards.
posted by ericb at 11:50 AM on May 9, 2007


Thanks Professor Althouse. My understanding is that the Berkman people wanted Cohen and Ciolli there until they realized that they may not be dealing with two people. Apparently, Ciolli had a whole slew of interesting excuses why Cohen couldn't make it and so on, only to turn around and claim they were excluded. To this day, Cohen has never made a public appearance of any sort, nor can anyone point to proof of his existence.
posted by allen.spaulding at 11:54 AM on May 9, 2007


I should add that apparently Jarret Cohen was invited and then disinvited. That's what made it odd.
posted by Alizaria at 11:55 AM on May 9, 2007


I'm only pointing out that IT professionals must conduct business in an ethical manner or lose their livelihoods. Apparently others are noting the same is true in a few other professions.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:55 AM on May 9, 2007


I've communicated with both Cohen and Ciolli by email, if that means anything. They have different email addresses for what it's worth (nothing, I guess).
posted by Alizaria at 11:58 AM on May 9, 2007


Apparently, Ciolli had a whole slew of interesting excuses why Cohen couldn't make it and so on, only to turn around and claim they were excluded.

apparently Jarret Cohen was invited and then disinvited.

Which one was it?
posted by octobersurprise at 11:59 AM on May 9, 2007


You mean what Jr. Law Prick Collio didn't do, like censoring morons. I am sure this guy had time to go to law school and read 5,000 to 6,000 posts a day. Somebitch, let's lynch 'em.
Words have no power.
“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” – Wittgenstein Thanks Lisa your so hot.
Remember we are talking about lawyer on lawyer wolf packing here, besides they will be the first to go when the revolution comes. "Viva la.." [a shot rings out another idiot dies] no, no that's all wrong.

"Viva la.." [A car door slams; a summons is issued for defamation. DHS is called in to assess the threat]

Oh, and if IT peeps can get a L-1 visa they are professionals.
posted by MapGuy at 11:59 AM on May 9, 2007


Since the subject of the conference was the suppression of speech and those who were excluded favored free speech, it's pretty significant. But I never listened to the recording of the conference, so I don't know how well my side of the argument was represented.
posted by Alizaria at 12:01 PM on May 9, 2007


...a few other professions.

And there you go again. IT is not a profession, in the sense of the word that dios used. Once again, in the hope that it'll be understood, it's not a pejorative.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 12:02 PM on May 9, 2007


Cohen was interviewed by WaPo and the WSJ as well, but once again, through email. I'd be interested in seeing Cohen come forward, insteda of letting Ciolli blame everything on him (he's really in charge, I couldn't delete things without his permission, he sets the rules, etc).

At the panel, the HLS administration made it clear that Ciolli was not uninvited, but that he kept insisting that Cohen couldn't make it to the point where it fell apart. I think I'll trust the Dean of Students at HLS over some 3L with a persecution complex who creates elaborate fake identities. It really does make the whole thing much more intricate and tragic in an almost literary sense (while not excusing Ciolli in any way).
posted by allen.spaulding at 12:03 PM on May 9, 2007


Hmm, anyone for a good, old fashioned MeFi sleuthing party on this Jarret Cohen?

Cohen, a 23-year-old insurance broker in Allentown, Pa., who says he founded AutoAdmit and currently runs the site, told the Law Blog: “It was me. I created the message board. I exercised ultimate authority. Anthony didn’t endorse any of this stuff. He doesn’t deserve this. This is guilt by association.”

The idea that Cohen doesn't exist makes this a lot more interesting. It's certainly unusual for someone to take the blame à la "It was me" and even: "he doesn't deserve this". It sounds suspiciously like a fictional character taking the blame.

Anyone have friends at Law Blog to ascertain that mr. Cohen made these statements in person or by phone? A "whois" search on autoadmit didn't yield any interesting info, but maybe it's my whois foo that's failing me.
posted by NekulturnY at 12:07 PM on May 9, 2007


Aloysius, I'm simply going by what is written here: "Those three professions require that their members profess to be bound by their code of ethics and standards and understand why those standards are necessary, failing which they cannot practice at all."

While ethics may characterize those three specific professions, the requirement of ethics itself is demonstrably not limited to them and thereby doesn't mean other professions cannot exist.

Further, if we are to go by the OED (Second Edition 1989) as scripture, it binds that specific classical usage to definitions from 1300 to the mid-1800s. It also includes a more general definition of "profession" which specifies, so that you can check for yourself, III. 6. b. In wider sense: Any calling or occupation by which a person habitually earns his living.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:15 PM on May 9, 2007


You are so 3L. Try this site if you are hunting a particular pecker wad. Oh and you can reverse search urls and emails, good luck. Wouldn't it be funny if this was a study on the state of our understanding and fear of NPC free speech? Those HLS Lampooners at it again.
posted by MapGuy at 12:17 PM on May 9, 2007


ericb and lattiboy: try to read my comments and understand how they are offered instead of getting reflexively defensive. Hell hath no fury like a mortgage broker scorned, I guess. Look, if you can't divine what I was saying, then just ignore it. I did not say that no other jobs have licensing organizations and requirements. I did not say that there are no other jobs that require ethics. What I did say is that the word profession as it was derived and has always been traditionally applied, refers to three professions that have extremely strong codes of ethics componenets. That is a fact. I guess in the future I should appeal to the dictionary lest someone think that a descriptive term is meant as an insult. But instead, I would think that the people here--especially the ones who are desperate to lay claim to the term professional--had the requisite reading comprehension and ethical and person self-confidence to be able to understand when something is used in a descriptive sense and not a pejorative sense.
posted by dios at 12:18 PM on May 9, 2007


As I understand it, a profession is any career that requires a special set of skills/training, and has a governing or certification board that grants the ability to practice in said field. Certainly, lawyers, physicians and accountants are professions in this sense, but so are healthcare professionals of many stripes (nurses, therapists, social workers), engineers, pilots, teachers, finance pros other than accountants (traders, financial analysts, etc.), architects, pharmacists, etc. And at least in the Netherlands, certainly sex workers would also qualityf.

Not sure where someone got there idea that there were only three such rarified fields.
posted by psmealey at 12:21 PM on May 9, 2007


The word "professional" has been quite legitimately extended beyond the original "professions" as other fields have professionalized on the same model of "professing" a code of ethics and conduct greater than the individual professional, and subjecting the individual to the governance of the profession's association(s). It is also perfectly normal and legitimate English usage to use "professional" as an antonym for "unpaid" or "amateur" (in the sense of does it for love, not money). On either score, there are of course IT professionals, and plenty of unprofessional members of the professions. This is a silly argument. What this schmuck (or pair of schmucks) did would be grounds for censure in many professions, and certainly a reason no employer with a concern for reputation and a client base that might be insulted by AutoAdmit's content would want to hire this person as the face of her business.

Or like I said: good.
posted by spitbull at 12:22 PM on May 9, 2007


Autoadmit looks like bizarro 4-chan for lawyers, which is... frightening in the extreme.
posted by boo_radley at 12:24 PM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jarret Cohen exists and is a licensed insurance producer in Pennsylvania. Go here and search for license # 404255.
posted by ND¢ at 12:26 PM on May 9, 2007


I agree that dios hasn't produced a 100%-convincing argument for what, exactly, differentiates medics, lawyers and priests from everyone else.

But that's separate from whether or not they are considered professions, and the unavoidable truth is that profession, in the sense that dios used it, clearly means law, medicine and divinity (and perhaps officers, but not men, in the military) — and nothing else. He unequivocally says "The word has been come to mean "job," but that is not the sense I was using it."

Further, if we are to go by the OED (Second Edition 1989) as scripture, it binds that specific classical usage to definitions from 1300 to the mid-1800s.

That's a load of nonsense, and just shows you don't know how to use the OED. The fact that its citations are from 1300 to the 1800s has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not the sense is in current usage or not (which it is). The OED does not necessarily aim to produce recent quotations for words which are in current use if they have not changed in meaning since the old citations. It's not a "specific classical usage" or anything like that.

You'll note that for your alternative sense, the quotations are from 1576 to 1898. Of course, the fact that there's another sense of the word profession is entirely irrelevant, since dios indicated above "the word has been come to mean "job," but that is not the sense I was using it."
posted by Aloysius Bear at 12:27 PM on May 9, 2007


Chief Education Director of AutoAdmit

These are some mighty big-sounding titles for what is just a website with discussion threads.
posted by deanc at 12:28 PM on May 9, 2007


On non-preview...
I agree that dios hasn't produced a 100%-convincing argument for what, exactly, differentiates medics, lawyers and priests from everyone else.
Er, I wrote that before his most recent comment.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 12:29 PM on May 9, 2007


The fact that its citations are from 1300 to the 1800s has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not the sense is in current usage or not (which it is).

Apparently, that (current usage) is in dispute by those who use the language, as some others have already pointed out.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:31 PM on May 9, 2007


Hmmm. I guess my reading comprehension is off. Let me re-read the prior comment:
"Those three professions require that their members profess to be bound by their code of ethics and standards and understand why those standards are necessary, failing which they cannot practice at all. That is not true for mortgage brokers or consultants (or computer help desk works, or butchers or bakers or candlestick makers). If a doctor fails to meet the obligations of his practice, he may not be able to practice anymore. If a lawyer sleeps with his client, then he may not be able to practice anymore. If a mortgage broker does something bad, they just merely lose their job. It has nothing to do with pay. It has to do with the ethical obligations and the shared understanding of the necessity for those obligations."
Hmmm. Maybe trying to revise one's original words is evidence of "getting reflexively defensive?"
posted by ericb at 12:35 PM on May 9, 2007


MapGuy - your coherence, it is not there.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:36 PM on May 9, 2007


There certainly are other professions, in the narrow sense being used by dios: chartered accountancy, architecture and professional engineering to name three. All are governed and accredited by professional societies and all have boards of ethics which govern them. The IT field in general and "software engineers" in particular have rejected professional certification. It's disingenuous to argue that the requirements of passing the bar and getting a job as a systems analyst are equivalent.
posted by bonehead at 12:40 PM on May 9, 2007


dios was absolutely clear about what sense he was using the word profession, so the people who are arguing that 'my job is a profession too' are missing the point, and (in some cases) not in an entirely ingenuous manner, I may add.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 12:42 PM on May 9, 2007


ericb: fair enough. I misspoke there. That was after I was frustratingly trying to explain a point that did not need explaining. If I offended your career, then my apologies because that was not my intent. I readily admit not being an expert on the licensing requirements of them. But that comment was in response to the reaction to my original point which was clearly a reference to the traditional professions and was just trying to make a quick explanation of the distinction before this asinine idea grew that I was trying to be insulting to everyone except doctors and lawyers and clergy. I wasn't.

God this is a stupid and artificial argument. I was not besmirching YOUR job by using a word to indicate that THIS GUY was trying to join a PROFESSION as opposed to getting a job at a help desk or McDonalds or some other position that didn't have a strong emphasis on ethical obligations.

I guess I should get angry retorts from people who not tell me that when you graduate from McDonalds University to work on fries, there is a code of ethics or you lose your fry privileges.
posted by dios at 12:44 PM on May 9, 2007


Jarret Cohen shows up on this list of insurance brokers, and this one. Looks like there is a real person with that name, in that place, doing that business.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:46 PM on May 9, 2007


Sorry to interrupt the diosity. Carry on.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:47 PM on May 9, 2007


dios -- fair enough | coming back at 'ya.
posted by ericb at 12:48 PM on May 9, 2007


If I offended your career, then my apologies because that was not my intent.

You haven't offended my career at all.
posted by ericb at 12:49 PM on May 9, 2007


The IT field in general and "software engineers" in particular have rejected professional certification.

The IEEE and ACM have worked together to codify ethical behavior within the field. If I remember correctly, ACM began this process in the early 1970s and worked with IEEE on a final draft released in 1999.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:55 PM on May 9, 2007


when you graduate from McDonalds University to work on fries, there is a code of ethics or you lose your fry privileges

There is. Call them "freedom fries" and you'll find your ass tout de suite out front wiping baby puke off of the plastic chairs!
posted by ericb at 12:56 PM on May 9, 2007


"...I am sure this guy had time to go to law school and read 5,000 to 6,000 posts a day. Somebitch, let's lynch 'em."

Oh bullll-shit. They created a forum in which it was considered acceptable to anonymously harass and threaten women. They had the power to moderate those blatantly offensive threads, and chose not to. Now, they are being held responsible for that choice.

Words have no power.

Double bullshit. These weren't private correspondences. They are akin to any public speech. If I stood on a street corner and yelled such things to any woman that walked by, you can be sure as hell I would be punished, whether by the woman herself, her family, her friends, or a policeman. If a business found out I was such a crackpot, they wouldn't even let me in the door. And yet, because it's the internet, the rest of the world is supposed to ignore it?

Remember we are talking about lawyer on lawyer wolf packing here

As I've said, we're talking about public expressions that denigrate and humiliate other people. These expressions have consequences, whether online or off.

Remember, the price of our freedoms is the responsibility to self-police them.
posted by muddgirl at 12:57 PM on May 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Also: Note that the address given for Jarret Cohen's insurance practice is also given as the address of a an attorney with the same last name.
posted by muddgirl at 1:11 PM on May 9, 2007


It isn't just that this guy shows up on a forum filled with racist, sexist language. He's not a passerby, he's a leader, he's in management. Big difference.
posted by etaoin at 1:26 PM on May 9, 2007


Ciolli should become Pud's lawyer. Problem solved.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:26 PM on May 9, 2007


I guess I should get angry retorts from people who not tell me that when you graduate from McDonalds University to work on fries, there is a code of ethics or you lose your fry privileges.
posted by dios at 3:44 PM on May 9


Actually, it is called Hamburger University, and apparently they do teach ethics there, so it does seem fit in with your definition of "profession" in this case.
posted by ducksauce at 1:30 PM on May 9, 2007


Jarret Cohen's insurance practice is also given as the address of a an attorney with the same last name.

OUR SATELLITES R SPYIN ON UR BLDG.
posted by ericb at 1:32 PM on May 9, 2007


Sure the IEEE and the ACM have a proposed standard, but still there's no requirement in law that a piece of software has to be signed off on by an accredited "software engineer" before it can be sold. Bridges have to be certified by an engineer; audits have to be signed off by an accountant. There's no professional liablility for software designers. Most software licences explicity deny any responsability for behaviour or fitness for use. Professionals cannot do that.

Until that liability barrier is crossed, until you can sue someone for delivering faulty software, IT will not be a profession in the sense used above.
posted by bonehead at 1:38 PM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jarret Cohen's insurance practice is also given as the address of a an attorney with the same last name.

One who had his license suspended a year by the Supreme Court of PA. I was going to tie this into the dios threadjack, but I just wanted to point out that something funny is going on here. Until I see a real person step forward and say "I am Jarret Cohen and I am solely responsible for AutoAdmit" I'm going to have a hard time believing that Ciolli is not responsible for the whole thing.
posted by allen.spaulding at 2:12 PM on May 9, 2007


Also, Leighton Cohen claims here to be Jarret Cohen's father. For those who don't know, Caitlin Hall was a well-known poster (and target) of AA, going by the name prestigious bitch.

So we know Leighton Cohen is real becaused his unethical and unprofessional behaviors led the Supreme Court to revoke his law license. Someone claiming to be him claims to be Jarret Cohen's father. Jarret Cohen seems to be registered as an agent operating out of Leighton Cohen's office. I think we're getting somewhere.
posted by allen.spaulding at 2:15 PM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Until that liability barrier is crossed, until you can sue someone for delivering faulty software, IT will not be a profession in the sense used above.

I share your concern to some degree, but would note that the existence of limited tort, for example, does not change or somehow "lessen" the profession of medicine. So it's not clear that the extent of liability must necessarily separate forms of profession. The software industry seems to consider product liability lawsuits as inevitable: by instituting standardization, certification, and hierarchical safety testing procedures they already aim to minimize future exposure. I am only indicating that there indeed exists a code of behavior for the profession of software engineering.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:17 PM on May 9, 2007


Excuse me while I look that up.... Coherence……Satire......Metaphor......Allusion.
Som’bitch yer right.
Let the record show conclusive cohesive incoherence heretofore regarding my statements and that they herewithin shall therefore be considered wholly without merit.

muddgirl your so hawt when you get angry. I’ll ride vendetta posse with you any day.
posted by MapGuy at 2:24 PM on May 9, 2007


MapGuy - I'm not angry. I just like internet nitwits. For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?
posted by muddgirl at 2:32 PM on May 9, 2007


Ah, Sweet Jane
posted by MapGuy at 2:37 PM on May 9, 2007


Senior Cohen was charged with a number of things; one of them was "Uttering a forged instrument." could one of the lawyer types here tell me what that means? It's a great phrase.
posted by rtha at 2:48 PM on May 9, 2007


Forging a signature.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 2:52 PM on May 9, 2007


Thank you.
posted by rtha at 3:00 PM on May 9, 2007


Usually, it's paperhanging.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:55 PM on May 9, 2007


Forgery is defined as the "making or altering of a false writing with intent to defraud". This is related to the crime of uttering a forged instrument, defined to be "offering as genuine an instrument that may be the subject of forgery and is false with intent to defraud"
posted by elpapacito at 4:29 PM on May 9, 2007


Uttering a forged instrument

Talking about a sword?
posted by staggernation at 4:36 PM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Please don't further confuse the lawyers, staggernation
posted by elpapacito at 4:57 PM on May 9, 2007


On professionalism: I like using the "Hitler test" to determine whether a job is a "profession" in the strictest sense of that word.

If you are a public defender and assigned to represent Hitler, you must represent him to the best of your ability. If you don't, by definition you are a bad lawyer.

If you are an emergency room physician, and Hitler arrives in an ambulance, you must treat him to the best of your ability. If you don't, by definition you are a bad doctor.

If you are a priest, and Hitler arrives in your church, you must minister to him to the best of your ability. If you don't, by definition you are a bad priest.

By contrast, if you are a CEO, you don't have to contract with Hitler or sell him your products.

Note that the distinction is between ordinary morality that all of us use and certain well-defined exceptions to that morality. We recognize that doctors, lawyers and priests must associate with assholes/jerks/genocidal maniacs, and in fact require them to do so "professionally." Why anyone else would want to be a professional in this strict sense is beyond my comprehension.
posted by ferdydurke at 5:04 PM on May 9, 2007 [5 favorites]


You know who else judged the world on the basis of how it treated Hitler?

That's right.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:16 PM on May 9, 2007 [6 favorites]


Ok so where does that leave the Mail Man?
posted by MapGuy at 5:32 PM on May 9, 2007


George Spiggott, that's the funniest that's been in a long time.
posted by drezdn at 6:05 PM on May 9, 2007


So we know Leighton Cohen is real becaused his unethical and unprofessional behaviors led the Supreme Court to revoke his law license. Someone claiming to be him claims to be Jarret Cohen's father. Jarret Cohen seems to be registered as an agent operating out of Leighton Cohen's office. I think we're getting somewhere.

Please don't let go of my hand just yet, allen.spaulding-- I can't quite seem to get my bearings.

Leighton Cohen's license is suspended for forgery(?) and he is just fortunate enough to have a son who can step forward and be able to work in his office as a licensed mortgage broker, thereby ameliorating the suspension and allowing at least some income from the business to continue to be generated, possibly merely by signing off on documents his father is no longer empowered to sign.

Your son has developed a little website on the side, but is perennially reluctant to actually appear in person, but does give interviews by e-mail. Hmmm.

My faith in Jarrett's existence (or at least my faith in his participation in either of the activities under discussion here) is unaccountably weaker than Leighton Cohen and Anthony Ciolli might like it to be.
posted by jamjam at 6:38 PM on May 9, 2007


My God Magnum I think you've got something!
posted by MapGuy at 6:47 PM on May 9, 2007


Slow down there, Hardy Boys. I'm not entirely convinced yet that young Mr. J. Cohen does not exist. A quick Googling turns up this interesting bit on a Torah study website: Google cache here (scroll to the bottom):

High Tide at Tiferes
by Mr. Leighton Cohen, Esq.

That special weekend three weeks ago that my son and I spent in Crown Heights and in Sea Gate at Yeshiva Tiferes Menachem was one weekend we will never forget. I can say without hesitation that the wonderful people who I met and the places that my son and I visited during those few days resulted in a life altering experience.


Now maybe it's the same dude, maybe not. But supposing it is...what kind of fellow is going to maintain such a charade knowing the Rabbi's watching?
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:04 PM on May 9, 2007


What kind of fellow is going to maintain such a charade knowing the Oprah's watching?
posted by ericb at 7:26 PM on May 9, 2007


jamjam - I agree, something is up.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:37 PM on May 9, 2007


I was busy reading the rail so I missed the derail. Was dios claiming that lawyering was the "oldest profession"? I say good on him.
posted by pointilist at 8:10 PM on May 9, 2007


My understanding is that there is no proof of Jarret Cohen's existence and that Ciolli invented him...The site is essentially his racist playground and when he was caught he keeps referring to his imaginary friend (which he magically seems to know what he's thinking at any point in time).

Fascinating, I'd love to know if this was true. Though I'd watch what you say about a new lawyer with some spare time on his hands, especially if someone might believe you're acting with reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of the statements. But you probably knew that.
posted by jaysus chris at 10:01 PM on May 9, 2007


Now I am curious about Jarrett Cohen. I guess someone could just call the listed number and ask - anyone have a landline with *69?
posted by lalex at 11:24 PM on May 9, 2007


if you're a cannibal and find hitler on your plate, do you have to eat him?
posted by pyramid termite at 12:59 AM on May 10, 2007


I'm no legal expert, but since you seem to be desperate to hide your activities, here's some free advice on how the internet works: when you keep running into message boards whining, for example, "will you all stop talking about how I killed that hobo," odds are Google will very shortly experience an uptick in the search phrase "Althouse hobo murder." Are we learning yet?

This is a terrible meme to spread. I hate to think that from a simple messageboard post that people started linking Ann Althouse to hobo murder, or possibly, murders. This is how rumours start, and I thoroughly condemn it. The Ann Althouse Hobo Murders, indeed.
posted by Neale at 1:05 AM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


if you're a cannibal and find hitler on your plate, do you have to eat him?

You open him up and taste him first. If he's vinegary, send him back.
posted by Neale at 1:07 AM on May 10, 2007


Oh, yes, all the talk about Ann Althouse hobo murders should absolutely end. It would be truly despicable if an Ann Althouse hobo murder meme were to take hold. It could seriously harm her reputation if it were common to see Ann Althouse linked to hobo murder.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:48 AM on May 10, 2007


I agree, Kirth Gerson. Recklessly throwing around the phrases "Ann Althouse" and "hobo murder" is bound to end in some tears. For the hoboes.

And because this, too, is irresistable...

Metafilter: Slow down there, Hardy Boys

(perhaps mathowie should build sleuth.metafilter.com and we can take on internet mysteries! I've got the vintage Nancy Drew backlist, let's get on it!)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:51 AM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


As much as turn-about-is-fair-play seems really, really tempting (seriously, I'm tempted, and was tempted before the first comment in this thread that wandered in that direction), I don't think it actually goes far in supporting the basic premise that internet mob violence/justice/comeuppance is wrong and abusive. Real facts are one thing, but googlebombing isn't cool (I've turned to this opinion, after once thinking that scum deserve it, by realizing that pretty much everyone will be identified as "scum" by someone else), and invasive public sleuthing of people who only may deserve it, is very, very creepy. Don't stop looking for the facts, but be professional about it (if I may borrow a derail), and use an excess of care to make sure that you aren't maligning a hapless party or practicing lazy vigilante justice.
posted by taz at 7:10 AM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


taz is, as usual, right.
posted by OmieWise at 7:30 AM on May 10, 2007


What XQ said. I'm watching that Bloggingheads video now, and Ann Althouse comes off as a complete nut, obsessed with a silhouette used on a blog (it's a silhouette of a woman and it has breasts!!!) and trying to use that to justify her obsession with the woman in the picture's breasts and alleged posing to emphasize them and rolling her eyes and interrupting every time her interlocutor tries to say two sentences in a row (typical for professors and senators, who are used to going on for an hour without anyone else having the temerity to talk). What she should have said was "Look, I overinterpreted a picture to make a point I thought was cute at the time but now see was pretty ridiculous, and I regret it. Let's move on." That would have been classy. Instead, she stonewalls and insists on blatantly false interpretations and then backtracks while trying not to admit she was wrong (she was arching her back "just a little") and in general behaves exactly like a president caught in naughty behavior. Someone should tell her the coverup is always worse than the crime.

Hey, she's here and I'm here, so I'll be that person! Ann, the coverup is always worse than the crime. And so far, you appear to be the kind of feminist who makes me embarrassed to call myself a feminist (not that that stops me).
posted by languagehat at 8:30 AM on May 10, 2007


Heh. Sorry about this, but I was surprised to hear that Ann Althouse is supposed to be a feminist, and googled a bit, to come right to Who cares about feminism?, in which the main theme is, believe it or not, Janet Jackson's Superbowl breast. It proves nothing, but did make me laugh... how many breast posts are there in this blog?
posted by taz at 9:26 AM on May 10, 2007


if you're a cannibal and find hitler on your plate, do you have to eat him?
You open him up and taste him first. If he's vinegary, send him back.


Diet Snapple hurts when you blow it out your nose.
posted by found dog one eye at 1:55 PM on May 10, 2007


Google results for hobo murder ann althouse. Why is this significant?
posted by davy at 12:21 AM on May 11, 2007


Because somebody posted it on MetaFilter?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:00 AM on May 11, 2007


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