DAVE KOPEL ON THE ART OF "INSULTING UPWARD," as practiced by Ann Coulter and her disciples.--and wondered what the angle might be. I knew by "disciples" he had to mean liberals, as the Perfesser only mentions wingers who've worn out their welcome among his own, more upscale Republican faction as a means to attack the left. But the Perfesser is not usually so terse -- he tends to telegraph the punchlines with snide gags.
Also, he is seconded by Ann Althouse, albeit at greater and dottier length. So, old miner that I am, I got a tingle in my diggin' hand.
Sure enough, in the linked article Coulter is judged a terrible person -- not because of the many outrages that have brought her fame, but because she insults upward -- that is, makes fun of folks more famous that she is, thereby feeding off their fame. What cheek!
And by that logic, when someone less famous than Coulter attacks her for her universally-acknowledged viciousness, why, it's just the same as what Coulter does. It's worse, in fact, if the Coulter critic -- in this case, Paul Campos -- a.) uses swears ("which this newspaper won't print") and "lawyerly formulations," and b.) attacks other more-famous people upon whose jocks Kopel is strongly positioned.
Guess who they are?
[Campos'] column also insulted upward at University of Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse (bizarrely claiming that she is part of a conspiracy to protect Coulter). Althouse is far more famous than Campos on the Web and in academia; her record of scholarly publications in law journals is significantly larger than his. She responded to Campos on her blog, thus giving him more publicity.As the Perfesser's blog is "the most influential in the world," I guess Campos is guilty of Grand Insulting Upward in the First Degree, or Reputation Genocide, or some damn thing.
A couple of weeks ago, Campos also successfully insulted upward when he accused University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds of advocating murder, and urged that the school censor Reynolds. Reynolds too has a vastly larger record of scholarly publication than Campos, and Reynolds' Web log, InstaPundit, is the most influential in the world (based on incoming links statistics at truthlaidbear.com).
Althouse and the Perfesser, of course, built their empires by attacking Democrats and American Idol contestants, who might be considered more famous than they. But Althouse and the Perfesser never (well, hardly ever) use swears, and as for "lawyerly formulations," well, if these folks can actually win lawsuits with their style of argument, the homeless guy loudly denouncing black women who wear wigs on the A train the other night definitely missed his calling.
Spinning for rightwing asshole buddies with a Coulter and a fake moral equivalence! Best of all, by criticizing them I'm just like Coulter! This is as much fun as playing checkers with a badly-brought-up child who cheats.
BTW, here's some sober analysis from Glenn Greenwald -- he's pretty famous, so feel free to take him seriously.