The academic. Sequestered in an ivory tower. Alone with his books. Deep in thought. Tome to his left, pipe in hand, Abyssinian in lap.
While this does describe me to a T, I’m trying to change. I’ve already removed some of the elbow patches from my tweed jackets in hopes of better feeling the world and I’m thinking over my policy about responding to the public.
In truth, I write a fair number of op-eds and short commentaries for popular markets and one of the issues that arises is whether to write back to people who read my work and pen a response. Many newspapers like to post your email address these days and as I tend to address controversial topics, I often get notes back. They vary from insightful questioning of the data I rely on to ALL-CAPS RANTS ABOUT MY CORRUPTED SOUL AND MY PC B*LLSH*T NONESENSE!!!
As a result of time limitations and a fear of further engaging certain ever-so-slightly threatening individuals, I’ve settled on a policy of carefully reading every email I’m sent and thinking about the contents, but almost never writing back a personal note.
I wonder if that’s the best approach. And I wonder why I don’t employ it to the same degree when I blog.
On a certain level, it would seem prudent to have a more rigorous procedure for my blogging. After all, the emails I get after writing an op-ed are private, whereas anyone can read the feedback I receive on a blog post.
Isn’t the worst policy of all to respond in a haphazard and inconsistent manner? Aren’t people liable to think that since I respond sometimes, my not responding in a particular instance is a signal that I must find the argument of the commenter compelling?
Should I have a policy of only responding to friends? Or only responding to other legal academics? Is not responding a dereliction of duty given the purported merits of “scholarly debate”?
Hmm . . . maybe the answer is to retreat back to the cat, pipe, and tower.