The life of the mind in American law

When I visit the doctor I usually catch up on mass culture a bit by reading the magazines in the waiting room. Most of it’s flashy junk and nothing more, but yesterday at the eye doctor’s I ran into something worth reading, an article in New York Magazine about a distinguished professor at New York Law School who was an obsessive collector of kiddie porn.

The piece isn’t about the professor or what he did so much as the reaction at the law school. The non-academic staff thought he should go right away, but they don’t run the place. The academics were mostly upset by worries about their own privacy, and by a basic sense that pornography of any kind—even violent kiddie porn—is OK, and that distinguished law professors have a right to be treated with kid gloves. The upshot was that the two computer technicians who turned the guy in to the school got fired, the dean who turned him in to the cops without talking with him first found himself in disfavor with his colleagues, and the professor himself stuck it out long enough to negotiate a large financial settlement as his price for resigning. All in all, an interesting look at the moral world in which the ideologists of our public order live.

Leave a Comment