January 13, 2014

Feminist Law Professors | Above the Law | myShingle.com | Pacific Standard

Nancy Leong, a visiting law professor at UCLA, wrote in late December she had filed an ethics complaint with the bars that licensed a public defender who “commented about me approximately 70 times on at least five different websites, frequently remarking on my physical appearance.”

The commenter used the alias “Dybbuk.”

I don’t see how it’s workable to sanction lawyers who say disgusting things online,” Elie Mystal writes. “Lawyers say racist, sexist things all time. Are only the ones who say it online in ethical violation?”

Carolyn Elefant writes that “Professor Leong claims that Dybbuk’s comments would constitute harassment in the workplace.” Elefant continues:

But even if that were true, the blogosphere is not the workplace. While Dybbuk may have mocked Professor Leong’s scholarship, that’s his First-Amendment protected opinion.

But as Amanda Hess noted recently, for many people “steering clear of the Internet isn’t an option.”

We use our devices to find supportive communities, make a living, and construct safety nets. For a woman like me, who lives alone, the Internet isn’t a fun diversion—it is a necessary resource for work and interfacing with friends, family, and, sometimes, law enforcement officers in an effort to feel safer from both online and offline violence.

Women by far receive the majority of vile Web communications, Hess writes, noting that civil rights law might conceivably be applied to cases of online abuse: “Because Internet harassment affects the employment and educational opportunities of women, laws could conceivably be amended to allow women to bring claims against individuals.”

Related: Assistant U.S. Attorney Sal Perricone resigned after his boss, Jim Letten, revealed Perricone had been commenting on Nola.com under an alias. Letten later resigned as well.

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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