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Denise Howell is a seasoned appellate and intellectual property litigator based in Los Angeles. Denise writes one of the first and most popular law-related blogs, Bag and Baggage, coined the term "blawg" and helped pioneer podcasting for lawyers. Microcontent obsessed since 2001, she is frequently quoted in the media on legal issues involving intellectual property and technology law. "Sound Policy" is Denise's show at IT Conversations, and it's also what she hopes results from the briefs she submits to court. Email Denise at dhowell@gmail.com.

Dennis Kennedy is a computer lawyer and legal technology expert based in St. Louis, Missouri. An award-winning author, a frequent speaker and a widely-read blogger, he has more than 300 publications on legal, technology and Internet topics, many of which are collected in his e-books. Dennis has been described as someone who knows almost every rock song in existence and, more importantly, how they apply to technology and law. Email Dennis at his gmail address.

Tom Mighell is Senior Counsel and Litigation Technology Support Coordinator at Cowles & Thompson in Dallas. He has published the Internet Legal Research Weekly newsletter since 2000 and blogged about the Internet and legal technology at Inter Alia since August of 2002. With Tom's singing, Ernie on guitar and Dennis' encylopedic knowledge of rock music, we may have the beginnings of a good band, if this whole blog thing doesn't work out. Email Tom at tmighell@swbell.net.

Marty Schwimmer left a partnership in the largest trademark practice in the world and founded Schwimmer Mitchell, a full-service IP micro-boutique in Westchester County, New York, where he represents owners of famous and not yet famous trademarks. He founded The Trademark Blog, the first IP law blog and the one with the most pictures. He is the first to come in and the last to leave in his firm. Email Marty at marty@schwimmerlegal.com.

Ernest Svenson practices law with a mid-sized law firm in New Orleans, specializing in business-related lawsuits. Most of his practice takes place in federal court, especially the Eastern District. He is best known for his weblog Ernie the Attorney, which he started as an experiment. Like many experiments it got out of control. Nevertheless, he continues to practice law and, occasionally, to seek enlightenment. Email Ernest at esvenson@gmail.com.
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July 22, 2005
Anatomy of A Rumor, WIth Links Intact For NowEmail This EntryPrint This Entry
Posted by Marty Schwimmer

Wikipedia's bio of John Roberts indicated that he went to an all-male boarding school, and was on the wrestling team.

Manhattan Offender, which appears to be a small personal blog, points this out, along with the fact that he took French and sang in the choir, and jokes that he might be gay. At least it is my conjecture that in this context, it was intended as an ironic remark, and that readers of a Manhattan gossip blog will perceive it as such.

Wonkette cites the Manhattan Offender joke and adds that Roberts must be a flame-thrower because he edited the school paper, The Torch. To add to the joke, she cited a NY Times piece entitled 'Court Nominee's Life Is Rooted in Faith and Respect for Law' for the bit that Roberts had played 'Peppermint Patty' in a high school play.

Ann Althouse a law professor, reads Wonkette's piece, notes that she had come to the same 'conclusion' that Wonkette did, and therefore she concludes that the NY Times had intentionally placed the bits about Peppermint Patty (and a photo of Roberts in a 'all-male wedding photograph' (as in photo of the groomsmen)) to plant the notion that Roberts was closeted.

Charmaine Yoest, an author and policy consultant, cites Manhattan Offender, Wonkette and Althouse's posts for the proposition that the 'left' has begun a whisper campaign against Roberts. She suggests that the left are homophobic.

Powerline , a high-profile conservative blog, in a piece entitled 'They Were Already Beneath Contempt,' cites Charmain Yost for the proposition that the 'Democrats' are hinting that Roberts is gay. He also adds that the Democrats were in favor of slavery.

Gordon Allport, in the 'The Psychology of Rumor' describes the manner in which rumors are transmitted (I'm using Malcolm Gladwell's summary of Allport from his book 'The Tipping Point'): The story is leveled - details essential for understanding (such as the fact that Wonkette is a humorist) are removed. The story is sharpened - the source of the 'facts' are no longer Wikipedia and the NY Times but 'the left' and 'Democrats.' The story is assimilated - the story is changed to make sense to those spreading the rumor. The Democrats are spreading a scandolous rumor about the innocent nominee for their own purposes.

That story will more sense then that someone would make a not particularly funny joke about Roberts being on the wrestling team, at least to those who will link to the Powerline without checking the links back to Manhattan Offender and Wonkette.

Category: Provocations


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