April 27, 2007

Why does Judge Kozinski hate blogs? (And does he, really?)

Everyone's blogging about Judge Kozinski saying -- joking? -- that he hates blogs:
ERIC GOLDMAN: So but what about blogs? . . .

JUDGE ALEX KOZINSKI: I hate them, hateful things.

ERIC GOLDMAN: Why do you hate blogs? . . . .

JUDGE ALEX KOZINSKI: I just think it's so self-indulgent, you know. "Oh, I'm so proud of what I'm saying, I think the world instantly wants to know what I'm thinking today." People wake up thinking, . . . . "I wonder what great thoughts have come into his mind this morning that I can feel myself edified by. I can't really have breakfast — really enjoy my day — until I hear the great thoughts of Howard Bashman!" I don't think so. I go for months without ever knowing what Howard has to say. So I don't know. I find it sort of self-indulgent. And I find it grandiloquent. And I find it annoying, particularly if I'm in an audience and people are sitting there typing in their computers.
My first thought was: he's kidding. "I hate them, hateful things" -- that sounds so diva-ish. I'm reading the text and hearing -- oh, I don't know -- the voice of Camille Paglia? Or, I think of "The Pillow Book" of Sei Shonagon which has that great chapter "Hateful Things." Did you know that "The Pillow Book" is said to be "what blogs were like 1000 years ago"? Some of her hateful things actually sound like she was complaining about blogs 1000 years in advance:
A man who has nothing in particular to recommend him discusses all sorts of subjects at random as though he knew everything.

To envy others and to complain about one's own lot; to speak badly about people; to be inquisitive about the most trivial matters and to resent and abuse people for not telling one, or, if one does manage to worm out some facts, to inform everyone n the most detailed fashion as if one had known all from the beginning -- oh, how hateful!...

One is in the middle of a story when someone butts in and tries to show that he is the only clever person in the room. Such a person is hateful, and so, indeed, is anyone, child or adult, who tries to push himself forward.

One is telling a story about old times when someone breaks in with a little detail that he happens to know, implying that one's own version is inaccurate -- disgusting behavior!

Very hateful is a mouse that scurries all over the place.
But the second thing I, your scurrying mouse, thought was: Kozinski is jealous because he wants to blog. Over at Above the Law, they're talking in the comments, and I see that someone agrees with me: "Methinks he's jealous that his judgeiness means he can't blog." Someone else says: "Koz could blog if he wanted to, Posner does." But that misses the point. For a judge to blog, he has to blog in the stolid, somber, serious Becker-Posner Blog style. That's not the "hateful" thing described in Kozinski's quote. All that fun stuff, that "self-indulgent" stuff, that's what he wants to do.

You know, many years ago, about 20 years ago, I was at a conference with Judge Kozinski, and one night at dinner, he told me his formula for becoming a federal judge. Like he was clueing me in so I could get there too. I told him I thought it was better to be a law professor, and my reason was personal freedom. You have to be so sober and decorous all the time if you're a judge. So, see, Alex. I was right! Look at meeeee.... I'm blooooggggginggggg and you're not!

29 comments:

AJD said...

Yes, we know you're blogging.

We also know: people actually respect Judge K.

peter hoh said...

Look at meeeee.... I'm blooooggggginggggg

And look at me, I'm looking, and making note of looking. I know why I'm looking, but why is AJD? In the hope that tsking will somehow make Althouse more somber?

Smilin' Jack said...

I told him I thought it was better to be a law professor, and my reason was personal freedom. You have to be so sober and decorous all the time if you're a judge.

Whereas in the classroom all you have to worry about is giving the slightest offense to any student's sensitivities...and students' sensitivities are getting more sensitive all the time. The days of "sifting and winnowing" at UW are long past.

SippicanCottage said...
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Kirby Olson said...

What was his formula for becoming a judge?

Simon said...

I think the answer to him has to be "Sure, it's self indulgent. And your point is?" The silly punk-inspired fear that self-expression might teeter over into self-indulgence seems akin to the grim, prissy puritanism one expects to see criticized on this most self-indulgent blog. Of course blogging is self-indulgent. It's also enriching, because you discover when you allow yourself to share more than you thought was appropriately modest that others actually - shock, horror - like the self that you're indulging, and do want to know what self-indulgent thoughts you've shared this morning. In a manner of speaking, I spend time over coffee every morning with Howard Bashman, Ann Althouse, Eugene Volokh, Orin Kerr, Ethan Leib, Dan Solove and a few others, finding out what's on their mind. And mine and so many other lives are richer for their self indulgence.

Simon said...

Kirby Olson said...
"What was his formula for becoming a judge?"

Good connections and balls of solid brass. My recollection of the story is that Kozinski was an enthusiastic and upwardly mobile cog in Reagan's DoJ, and when the administration created the Court of Federal Claims, he made clear that he wanted to be not only a Judge of, but Chief Judge. Ask and thou shalt receive, and he duly was appointed; from there he leapfrogged onto the Ninth Circuit, where he has generally done sterling work (and magnificent writing) ever since.

As I have before, "I should say ... regarding Alex: ... on a personal note, I think that he gives great hope to all of us who suffer under the weight of a funny accent and European teeth, hope that we can make it in American legal circles if we work hard and can make good arguments." I think he's a genuinely inspirational guy, a great judge, should have been on the Supreme Court, even, but in this instance, he's off the mark,IMO.

XWL said...

His anti-blogging comments only show what a good blogger he would be if he weren't a federal judge with notions of a possible Supreme future.

(he'd still make a great Supreme Court Justice, also)

(and Scalia would be a great blogging Justice, if Justices could blog)

Balfegor said...

You have to be so sober and decorous all the time if you're a judge.

. . . you say this about Judge Kozinski? Am I thinking of the wrong man? Is this not the Kozinski who reviews videogames? The Kozinski who spent an entire opinion alluding to movie titles? I mean, not to say he is lacking in sobriety and decorum. But he's not what one thinks when one thinks "sober and decorous."

Ann Althouse said...

Sippican: I swear I didn't steal that from you. I've been a "Pillow Book" fan since my college days, and I always remembered "Hateful Things," so it sprang naturally to mind. From there I tracked down the text and excerpted the apt things. I would have left that one off if I'd remembered it from you.

Ann Althouse said...

They may all be blogging anonymously.

Bissage said...

Pseudonymous blogging or commenting is exactly the sort of harmless frolic I’d expect from the computer literate, broad-minded, mischievous judge.

Judges have plenty of spare moments during the work day. And when the work day’s done a little early, not every judge plays golf or has a little going on the side.

Although, truth be told, when the work’s all done and the sun sets low, quite a few judges pull out the fiddle and a-rosin up the bow.

Bissage said...

Ann, I swear I didn't steal that from you.

Ha!

(No, really.)

GeorgeH said...

Pure jealousy.
Judges publish opinions and you had damned well better read them. It must be killing him now that everyone can publish their opinions, and if they are good, people read them for pleasure.

ricpic said...

Screw that Kozinski! (Who's Kozinski?)

SippicanCottage said...
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Galvanized said...

Let me also understand this...the Esteemed Koz, as a judge, is entitled to opinions while the rest of us everymen are supposed to stifle our opinions and commentary.

As a nonpretentious blogger, I don't get up in the mornings expecting people to even care about what I have to say or what I think. My blog is a sort of online journal with which others might identify or find affirming. My opinions are subject to change at any given notice. It's a hobby to have a vehicle to vent, rant, share as one would in a conversation with friends.

I think that you're right -- perhaps the judge is implying that, unless one's beliefs are stodgily set in stone and formed by a supreme knowledge of facts and by the cream of learned society, they shouldn't be voiced or given words. Wow, that's the pinnacle of pride and snobbery, two things that I find quite hateful.

I really hope that maybe his statements were contextually relevant or deadpan joshing. I can't imagine anyone actually meaning those words and delivering them with a straight face.

Joe said...

Isn't the fact that many bloggers are acting so hysterically, kind of support his point, no?

Maxine Weiss said...

Althouse just said last night that she finds most people boring.

Maxine Weiss said...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/femail/article.html?in_article_id=450995&in_page_id=1879

Douglas said...

I'm blooooggggginggggg and you're not!

I can so see you running around the family room wearing pigtails screaming that at him.

and, oooof, don't get me started on the schoolgirl outfit.

The partisan moderate said...

While I enjoy some blogs, I can seem why other people dislike bloggers. Many bloggers are geeks who act like bullies when they are sitting behind a computer maintaining anonymity. This allows them to believe that they have carte blanche to say vitriolic comments. This especially applies to politics but can even apply to law school. Check out autoadmit, which has recently gotten in trouble for some of the posts allowed.

The discourse on politics has degenerated even though greater information has been disseminated. The dailykos is extremely hate filled and arguably has played a negative role in politics as have other blogs on the right.

Ann Althouse said...

"Why would you do that?"

To avoid the appearance of stealing.

Galvanized said...

Just so long as one thing is understood -- that just because the little guys (miscellaneous bloggers) have discourse on politics does not necessarily mean that the discourse has degenerated. True, more information is disseminated but, also true, more sharing of ideas and attitudes, and brainstorming take place between blogs/readers. Sorry if the big guys can't handle that slight loss of influence. I call it accountability, a media-centered revolution if you will. And there will always be hate-filled bloggers, flamers, trolls just as there is trash everywhere in media. There are also many objective, knowledgeable, and thoughtful bloggers. It's a whole new information-sharing vehicle for the masses. I've seen just as much nonsense, fluff, and stupidity in newspapers and television as I have in blogs.

boston70 said...

Hey did you guys hear that Bush's AID's Czar, who promotes Abstinence Only, resigned today.

Yea, he was visiting a prostitute service. But he said he was just getting a "massage". Kind of sounds like Ted Haggard. His name was Randall Tobias and is a religious right freak.

I thought I would post this because 1) the hypocrisy is outrageous and 2) you won't see this from our independent blogger as this doesn't speak to kindly on another hypocrital Bush lackey.

Kirk said...

"'I hate them, hateful things' -- that sounds so diva-ish. "

Not after you take out the reporter's rewording of what Kozinski actually said:

"we hates them, nasty hateful things!"

Johnny Nucleo said...

Is this dude talking about blogs or art?

Here is the danger, elite fools of the world! Elitism breeds snobbery, which breeds prudery, which breeds lame-o rocking-chair banality, unless one is anchored by religion or booze or drugs.

(Though I am still young and sexy, I myself indulge in rocking-chair banality at times. But when I do it is true and apt because I am anchored by religion and booze and drugs.)

Mickey said...

ann- I`d of liked to have seen his expression when you said that thing about freedom.

"I wonder what great thoughts have come into his mind this morning that I can feel myself ed

Geez, he must of read mine...

M said...

Why wouldn't you provide some sort of citation?