Before my latest post this morning, more than a week had passed since I last checked on how many people had visited my blog — at last check, less than 200 people. Imagine my surprise this morning when I noticed that well over 8,000 people have now read my blog (in case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a counter in the upper left).
Naturally I was curious to find out why so many people had suddenly heard about my blog, which I had done little to promote (I did e-mail a couple bloggers about it, Ann Althouse and Steve Sailer, to let them know I’d mentioned their work).
As I’ve said, I’m not good with statistics, but I looked at the “StatCounter” website that collects information about visits to the blog, and it seemed to me that something happened on September 30 that drew attention to the blog. Here’s the bar chart of visits since September 16, when I launched the blog, that led me to that conclusion:
Digging deeper into the statistics, I found that almost all of the visitors were coming from a blog called “Above the Law,” which you can read here. I had never heard of it, but judging from the number of visits it triggered to my blog, apparently it is read by thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of lawyers and law students.
I did some research on it, and apparently the blog is run by David Lat, a Yale Law School alumnus who delights in attacking Harvard Law School, its students, and its alumni. According to a New York Times article which you can read here, after Lat’s employment with a New York law firm did not work out (“He always looked like he had tears coming out of his eyes,” a former colleague at the firm recalled), Lat got a summer job in the entertainment industry, but that didn’t work out either. Lat then got a job at the United States attorney’s office in Newark.
There, Lat spent part of his work days, on the taxpayer’s dime, on a blog in which he pretended to be a fashion-forward female attorney in San Francisco obsessed with gossip about federal judges. He called this persona “Article III Groupie.” He did so in secret, without getting permission from his boss, leading what he called a “double life.” He did it without getting permission because, as he put it, “I just didn’t see the perception issue involved with a federal prosecutor writing an irreverent blog” about federal judges.
Due to his clumsiness in covering his electronic tracks, Lat was eventually revealed as the author of the blog, leading to trouble at work. Lat decided to go into blogging full time and eventually started the “Above the Law” blog.
Many of Lat’s posts are made under his own name, but apparently Lat is still fond of creating fake personas that allow him to explore certain issues in what he evidently regards as interesting and/or absurd ways. Apparently he calls one of his personas “Elie Mystal.” This “Mr. Mystal” (perhaps that’s a pun on the “Mr. Misty” DQ frozen drink?; perhaps “Elie” is a pun on Lat’s attendance at Yale?) is said to be a black alumnus of Harvard Law School. It seems that Lat favors this persona for his frequent attacks on Harvard Law School (such attacks sound more credible coming from a purported alumnus), and especially for Lat’s frequent efforts to use his blog to stir up racial controversies. Lat, himself a good writer, when using this “Mr. Mystal” persona works diligently to dumb down the content, and make specious arguments and silly asides, all while using an awkward writing style. Apparently one aspect of Lat’s design in using the “Mr. Mystal” persona is to parody black Harvard Law School alumni as sloppy thinkers and poor writers.
This “Mr. Mystal” persona was the one Lat used in the September 30 post mentioning my blog, which drove many thousands of readers to my own blog. You can read the post here. I won’t delve into the details, but let me state for the record that I regard this as an especially clumsy effort by Lat to parody black Harvard Law alumni. He seizes on my blog to recap old stories on his own blog; to advance the simultaneously silly and hateful aside that “[a] white Harvard Law student could shoot Medgar Evers and there would be some professor or judge eager to defend the kid and give him or her a second chance.”; and to offer armchair psychoanalysis of me and the Harvard Law School administrators, and predictions about our likely future actions — and those of another blogger who has nothing to do with my blog, law professor Ann Althouse.
In line with the overall parody of “Mr. Mystal” as a stupid and ineffectual black Harvard Law alumnus, there’s no effort in the post to address the substance of my blog. A followup post by “Mr. Mystal” addresses various issues concerning affirmative action admissions in higher education in a similarly ineffectual way, and is focused mainly on spinning out further biographical details regarding the “Mr. Mystal” persona. You can read that post here.
Isn’t it surprising that someone like Lat, afforded an education at an elite law school, would spend so much time creating a fake persona for the purpose of parodying black Harvard Law alumni? Lat’s clumsy parody, as illustrated by these posts and others by “Mr. Mystal,” has amply earned him this Racism Alert!.