Dave Hoffman at Concurring Opinions has published the first of what he says will be a series of posts about XOXOHTH, the (in)famous discussion board supposedly aimed at law school applicants, law students, and new law firm associates. Messages are anonymous, and some of the content is not, shall we say, edifying. Putting aside the racist and misogynistic diatribes and (sometimes even worse) casual asides, much of the remainder still displays distorted values and priorities, and incredible arrogance, such that it can be depressing reading.
On the other hand
(or “OTOH,” as posters there surely would say), it might not be such a big deal:
- To the extent that this stuff is representative of actual thinking by some minority of jerks in our midst, maybe it is better to air it (Volokh suggests that may be so);
- Some threads seem at least potentially valuable (e.g.: who has advice about which 1L elective I should take?);
- Much of the bad stuff appears to be less than serious and some of it is clearly pulling your leg, Borat-style.
Not surprisingly, the post spurred a lengthy thread on XOXOHTH itself, featuring a wide variety of points of view, interspersed with some more of those icky posts.
It is an interesting issue, fueled, of course, by anonymity that allows posters to say frank and sometimes outrageous things, or perhaps to strike a pose. I tend to think that the potential outlet provided by online anonymity is a good thing. I will be curious to see what Hoffman says, and also how others respond. (Hoffman closed comments on his post.
I will leave mine open — for now.)
[UPDATE: I have now closed comments. I think the 53 that are there are fairly representative and I will leave them up, even though personally I find most of them puerile, offensive, or both. Hoffman is continuing his series of posts; today’s offering explains the history of XOXOHTH. I believe in online anonymity and I still think, as I indicated in the original post, that it provides breathing room for speech, even though often I don’t like how people use it. Now, if you choose to click through to the comments, don’t say I didn’t warn you…]