Ed Whelan’s Idea of “Honest and Competent Debate” (UPDATED)
Ed Whelan ends his latest intervention into the debate about Koh by asking, “[c]an’t anyone out there engage in honest and competent debate?” A fair question — so I thought it might be useful to take a quick look at what Whelan seems to think qualifies:
I’ll take a brief break to respond to the vapid criticisms of my posts by Koh’s defenders. I haven’t seen anything yet that rises beyond the risible.
Now a quick survey of the folly of Koh’s defenders.
The hapless (but therefore aptly named) Charlie Brown.
Publius-Poseur doesn’t know up from down about Koh.
That’s a ludicrous mischaracterization, as any sentient being who reads Koh’s own words in my posts should immediately recognize.
And she doesn’t have the decency even to link to my posts (perhaps out of fear that her readers will discover how empty her responses are).
It shouldn’t be surprising that I responded to her attacks on me rather than bothering with her trivial “core point.”
I’ll readily acknowledge that in the zoo of modern legal academia, Harold Koh isn’t an especially exotic creature (especially to other animals in the zoo). But that says much more about the state of legal academia than anything else.
Incoherent academics for Koh.
It’s long been my experience that many liberal legal academics are surprisingly unable to engage in reasoned legal argument.
Those selections, by the way, come from three posts. Honest and competent debate indeed!
PS: The saddest thing about Whelan’s feverish and dismissive writing style is that, in his more temperate moments, he has offered well-reasoned criticisms of Koh that deserve proper rebuttal. I agree with him, for example, about the potential for transnationalism to undermine what I believe are important First Amendment restrictions on criminalizing hate speech. But it’s hard to blame Koh’s defenders for ignoring those criticisms, given that all of their previous attempts to respond to Whelan have been met by nothing more than insults.
UPDATED: As he notes in the comments, Whelan has modified his most recent post to eliminate much of the rhetoric I quote above. His posts are still too dismissive for my liking — something I am guilty of myself far too often — but he deserves credit for recognizing that he wasn’t helping his own cause. And I reiterate that I hope Koh’s defenders will address the points he makes in his substantive posts, such as here.