by john blevins (aka, publius)
And to be clear – the proximate cause was that Whelan got mad that I criticized him in a blog post. More specifically, he’s mad that Eugene Volokh made him look rather silly – and he’s lashing out at me for pointing that out, and publishing my name.
For background, Whelan and others have been harshly criticizing Sotomayor for her comment that courts are “where policy is made.” Whelan has repeatedly seized on this comment (in print and on TV), and is demagoguing it (much like he did with selective and inflammatory readings of Koh).
The problem, though, is that it’s not even controversial that courts consider policy, which Whelan knows full well. Volokh, responding to one of these Whelan posts, wrote an excellent and definitive blog post explaining in great detail why courts do consider policy (something Orin Kerr echoed a while back too). Volokh’s post embarrassed Whelan because it decimated his argument – and now he’s mad.
Whelan is now pretending that Volokh was responding to his single post about Sotomayor’s “Revealing Joke.” I can’t speak for Volokh, but I doubt he would have taken the time to write such a detailed and examining post if he were responding to a single post. I read Volokh’s post as frustration with the larger attack on “make policy,” in which Whelan has been front and center.
But anyway, he’s right – my name is John Blevins. I recently joined the faculty at South Texas College of Law in Houston (both of which I love) after practicing for years in DC. I’m also now a recent convert to the Houston Rockets, and am enraged that Chuck Hayes doesn’t shoot more.
I thought about ignoring the whole thing – but some of you have been with me for 5 years now, so I thought you all deserved an explanation.
As I told Ed (to no avail), I have blogged under a pseudonym largely for private and professional reasons. Professionally, I’ve heard that pre-tenure blogging (particularly on politics) can cause problems. And before that, I was a lawyer with real clients. I also believe that the classroom should be as nonpolitical as possible – and I don’t want conservative students to feel uncomfortable before they take a single class based on my posts. So I don’t tell them about this blog. Also, I write and research on telecom policy – and I consider blogging and academic research separate endeavors. This, frankly, is a hobby.
Privately, I don’t write under my own name for family reasons. I’m from a conservative Southern family – and there are certain family members who I’d prefer not to know about this blog (thanks Ed). Also, I have family members who are well known in my home state who have had political jobs with Republicans, and I don’t want my posts to jeopardize anything for them (thanks again).
All of these things I would have told Ed, if he had asked. Instead, I told him that I have family and professional reasons for not publishing under my own name, and he wrote back and called me an “idiot” and a “coward.” (I’ve posted the email exchange below).
So there you have it – I’ve been successfully pseudonymous since the Iowa caucuses in 2004. During that time, I’ve criticized hundreds of people – and been criticized myself by hundreds more. But this has never happened.
And yes – I criticized Whelan rather harshly. But that’s what the blogosphere is about. Blogging is not for the thin-skinned. And you would think that someone who spends their days trying to destroy other people’s reputations in dishonest and inflammatory ways wouldn’t be so childish and thin-skinned.
Anyway, I’m not sure whether I’ll start posting under my own name or not. And there were several people who already knew – it’s not like this is a state secret. But still, if I wanted my name out on this blog, I would have done so. It should have been my choice.
Oh – and one last point. In his outing post, Whelan makes a big deal of my so-called “second” pseudonym “Edward Winkleman.” That’s actually a real person – he was an early member of the group blog Obsidian Wings and initially set up the group email address (obsidianinfo@yahoo), which is listed in the “About” and "Email Me" sections. Scandalous, I know.
In other words, he’s criticizing me for replying on the Obsidian Wings institutional email to which he initially wrote. What’s funny is that Whelan and I have corresponded on this very address before.
In short, it’s misleading and without context. And sort of mean. And that’s how he rolls.
Anyway, here’s the email exchange below, which is more "revealing" than any of Sotomayor's jokes (click for the full view):
And here's his initial email: