You have to go to the links; I can’t do justice to this story without giggling. Primarily, I want to highlight this epic mess because it’s the best example of the Streisand Effect ever, a situation where an attempt to seek redress for an alleged smear brings more publicity to negative details about the supposed victim far beyond anything the original conduct could have. To make the fiasco more juicy still, here is a Harvard Law professor revealing himself as an utter fool, and engaging in a frivolous—that is, unethical— attempt to use “sexual harassment” to apply to “you used your feminine whiles to manipulate me, and I fell for it.”
Sexual harassment doesn’t mean that.
The hilariously baroque story involves…
- Bruce Hay, a prominent professor at Harvard Law School who has instantly confirmed public prejudices about how weird professors are,
- His lawsuit, filed last week in the Southern District of New York, alleging that New York Magazine reporter Kera Bolonik portrayed him as a “credulous, hapless victim” of two women he was involved with—
- Two married lesbian women, one of them transgender…
- …in a July 2019 article titled, “The Most Gullible Man in Cambridge: A Harvard law professor who teaches a class on judgment wouldn’t seem like an obvious mark, would he?,“
- …for which Hay says he was a source, a fact-checker and a legal consultant.
This sentence from the ABA story tips you off to what’s ahead:
Hay was embroiled in an “escalating legal conflict” with the women, “facilitated by individuals who had an interest in driving them apart,” according to Hay’s suit. Although he came to think that he was a victim of the women, Hay says, he later realized that he was mistaken.
A few thoughts:
- The professor has brought public embarrassment on his employers, not that Harvard University doesn’t deserve it.
- Americans pay immense amounts of money to have their offspring educated by strange people like Hay. If they knew how strange, they would be more careful. Thanks to Hay, many of them will be enlightened.
- Think about Hay the next time someone appeals to authority by quoting a Harvard professor.
- To be fair and kind, it seems quite possible that the professor is in the midst or some kind of breakdown, or one of the great mid-life crises of all time.
- A digression: why do the photos of people who do irrational things so frequently look like photos of people who do irrational things? Does it just seem that way because of confirmation bias? Would I have looked at the photo of Hay above and thought, “Yeah, I’d move away from that guy on the subway” if I hadn’t read about him? Do crazy people tend to look crazy? Is it unethical to give credence to a little voice in your brain that says, “Oh-oh…I don’t like the look in her eye”? Our first Jack Russell, Dickens, had a diabolical, crazy streak. He had a look, and when my wife or I saw it, we were wary. It wasn’t our imagination.