The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent




The Gorsuch story reminded me of a law professor friend of mine noting, a few years ago, that pressure for ideological conformity often comes through the threat of disdain: Go along with liberal positions on these various issues, or feel your colleagues' contempt and hostility.

Of course, the threat of disdain can be good, and can keep us honest and careful, if it's a threat of disdain for factual errors or logical fallacies. But if the threat is just motivated by ideological disagreement, that can stultify serious debate. And if you give in, and trim your sails to the prevailing winds in order to avoid the disdain, …

That is called paying disdain-geld;
But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid the disdain-geld
You never get rid of disdain.

(The original poem is here.)