I wasn’t going to post on this, because I figured there had been enough publicity for him already. But now that I see (via Instapundit and TaxProf) that the controversy has made its way into Forbes and many major websites, I’ll weigh in on the case of Todd Henderson, the University of Chicago law professor and blogger.
The details are at TaxProf, but the short version is that Henderson wrote a blog post coming out against a tax raise for the so-called “super rich.” Henderson’s point was that a family like his, living in a big city, were not all that rich just because they made $250k as a family
For that sin, Henderson has been subjected to vicious hate mail and personal attacks in the media, but particularly at left-wing blogs. Henderson has decided to withdraw from further blogging because of the strain the attacks have placed on his family, which recently brought home a pre-term baby.
I feel his pain, so to speak.
There are vile people out there. As I’ve pointed out before, soon after I started this blog the Obama supporters started attacking me via e-mail and at times it has been vicious. The e-mails are sent not only to me, but to others who know me in an attempt to interfere with my employment. It doesn’t work, but it is not a pleasant experience the first few times it happens, although now it is something of a joke. So I feel for Mr. Henderson.
But I wondered, how many law professors will come to his defense either privately or publicly?
There currently is circulating among law faculties around the country a fundraising letter in support of the Corboda mosque. The letter has been signed by over two hundred law professors. Here is the text, in pertinent part:
As law professors who spend our working lives trying to ensure that each succeeding generation can meet Benjamin Franklin’s challenge–“We have given you a republic, if you can keep it”–we have decided to put our money where our principles are.
You continue to be asked where your funding is coming from. We would be proud to have you say that part of it comes from us, a group of academics from across this nation dedicated to the spirit of freedom embodied in the First Amendment, to a nation in which every religious group is as free to worship, where and how they see fit, as every other.
We hope that our gesture, however small in absolute terms, encourages others who cherish our Constitutional principles to follow our lead.
I think a similar gesture of support for Mr. Henderson is in order.
Update: Ann Althouse says I’m “babying this man.” Okay, I’ll never defend another blogger against unjustified attacks ever again, and neither should anyone else. Except that the issue is more serious, and has nothing to do with whether one agrees with Henderson’s assessment of his reality. Criticizing someone’s views is one thing, reaching out and touching him is something else, as are deliberate attempts to damage his reputation based on false or misleading characterizations, which we all know takes place in the blogosphere.
And by the way, I don’t have a big problem with Henderson’s original post. To those who criticize him I say, What Don’t You Understand About “It’s Not Your Money”.
And, having returned from a two-hour class, I see Ann Althouse has updated her argument with a new post taking credit for “tweaking” me. Althouse really misses the issue. The issue is not whether Henderson could be criticized, whether he is “rich,” or even whether he made a mistake in putting some personal details in a blog post. Snark aside, it is a serious issue whether blogging on a subject then makes one legitimately a target for the sort of venom many of us receive outside of the blog. Althouse demands that Henderson produce the e-mails he has received (“Okay, show me!”) but she surely knows that publishing hateful e-mails often stokes the fire and encourages others. It is a blogger’s dilemna whether to go pubic with such e-mails or not. It is a serious issue even if Althouse is not treating it as such, or at least not treating it as seriously as she treated Ezra Klein’s tweet about her.