THE MENTAL STATE OF M. TODD HENDERSON- by Elaine Ash PART TWO

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THE MENTAL STATE OF M. TODD HENDERSON- by Elaine Ashe

PART TWO

*Part one was published here.  I thought this installment was more appropriate to ATH than MGC. – SAH*

Todd Henderson is one of the only conservative law professors at the University of Chicago Law School. He’s the author of Mental State. This is an interview with freelance book editor, Elaine Ash.

 

 

They came like punches to the face. Message after message spitting hate, calling me vile names and wishing I were dead. Threats against me and my family—“You should die and your children too because you’ve probably polluted their minds with your racism.”

 

Elaine Ash: What’s it like being a conservative at the University of Chicago?

Todd Henderson: There are just a handful of professors at the top twenty law schools who would identify as conservative. Almost all of those are libertarians—pro-choice, for open borders, and pro-gay marriage. Social or religious conservatives on law faculties are like unicorns. Americans are split down the middle. So too are America’s judges and elected representatives—the people who make the law—and yet nearly every faculty member teaching future lawyers what the law is are far-left Democrats.

EA: That’s kind of shocking to me.

MTH: I’m not the only conservative here, but I am the most outspoken. I like and admire my colleagues, and almost all our students are extremely bright, hardworking, and decent people—but my habit of saying what I think has gotten me into trouble on more occasions than I’d like to recount.

EA: What’s the difference between you and a left-leaning professor?

MTH: I approach law very differently than a liberal does. I believe in individual liberty and view government actions under a presumption of error. When a liberal looks out the world and sees something falling short of Nirvana, they want to remake the world to fix it. They imagine remedies for it in their own mind—as if a single human can design a system to solve our social problems. Amazingly, these solutions always involve more government power. People are hungry—the government should feed them. People are ignorant—the government should educate them. People are sad—the government should make them happy. I am skeptical of government power, because at its core it relies on violence.

Liberal professors see the word as perfectible, while I think man’s ability to remake the world as largely a fool’s errand.

EA: Violence? Please explain.

MTH: Every law and every government action works only when people are threatened with the loss of their liberty or their life. If you don’t pay your taxes, you go to jail. Something as trivial as parking tickets are ultimately backed up by the violence of the state—we could ask Eric Garner, but he was choked to death by officers who found him allegedly violating a law against selling cigarettes without tax coupons required by New York. Laws ultimately rely on coercion and violence.

By contrast, I have more faith in families, associations, and markets. These things are more likely to capture all the information we need to make the world as good as it can be. And, most importantly, they are not based on threats of violence. Liberal professors see the word as perfectible, while I think man’s ability to remake the world as largely a fool’s errand. I think these instincts seep into my book, just as the instincts of liberals do when they write fiction. But, at the end of the day, the book is entertainment. People want to enjoy themselves not be lectured at.

EA: Ah yes, your novel, a political thriller. Any pressure from UChicago regarding that?

MTH: Yes. Many people told me not to publish the book, claiming it would hurt me and hurt the University. These requests came after people apparently received an electronic copy of the manuscript from others. They wanted me to change aspects of the plot and the details of characters and scenes, all as the book was about to go to press. The bad guys in the book are not straight from central casting—a female Democrat president, an ethnic minority nominated to the Supreme Court, and so on.

EA: That must have raised some eyebrows.

MTH: University administrators are scared. They were worried about the backlash from the PC police. Barbarians are at our gates. I’m still getting worried glances and expressions of concern about how people might freak out at a work of fiction. Publishers told me the book was too risky. Agents told me the book wouldn’t sell—not because of its quality but because of what it says. These days the bad guys can only be on one side.

EA: What side is that?

MTH: The side that’s not the left. Based on my tribulations, anyone who tries to push back against the cultural hegemony of cultural and political leftism is going to have a tough row to hoe.  Don’t challenge liberal dogma if you want positive attention from the media. But, at the end of the day, the book is entertainment. People want to enjoy themselves not be lectured at.

EA: Tell me about the death threats.

MTH: On Twitter, I dared to compare Brett Kavanaugh, Supreme Court nominee, with Sonia Sotomayor, seated Supreme Court justice, in a discussion about how their personal lives and characteristics might be relevant. It didn’t go over well. I don’t get many voicemails at work anymore by virtue of email and mostly using my cell phone. And when the red light on my office phone is flashing, at most there are one or two messages—maybe from my mom or a reporter looking for a legal expert on a topic. So, when I went into my office a few weeks back and heard that I had nearly fifty messages, I knew something was afoot. I sat in my chair, pen in hand, and pressed play. They came like punches to the face. Message after message spitting hate, calling me vile names and wishing I were dead. Threats against me and my family—“You should die and your children too because you’ve probably polluted their minds with your racism.”

EA: Who were these people?

MTH: A Twitter-fueled mob so filled with hatred that they would try to rid the world of anyone who thinks differently than they do. Just imagine disagreeing with someone about something they said, then looking up that person’s phone number, calling them, and yelling obscenities at their answering machine. These are the minds of seriously disturbed people, and they are all ages, all walks of life, and all over the country, best I could tell from the messages.

EA: Are you going to shut up, then?

MTH: No.

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Reviews:

“Exciting and compulsively readable, Mental State marks the entrance of a striking new talent on the thriller scene. Todd Henderson’s confident debut draws the reader into the unfamiliar worlds of academia, the law, and backroom politics, while providing a fresh take on more familiar thriller ground like the world of law enforcement. The Professor’s murder mystery delivers the rough and tumble goods, and it will leave readers wanting more.” —Kurt Schlichter, lawyer and bestselling author

 

Mental State is fascinating, detailed, and a pure page-turner. It’s a must-read if you love the country, the Supreme Court, or just a book that will keep you up at night.” —Ben Shapiro, public intellectual, talk-show host, and bestselling author

 

“Todd Henderson has written a taut, suspenseful and powerfully entertaining legal thriller against the backdrop of a transformative Supreme Court nomination and baroque academic intrigue, which he describes with convincing details and an insider’s knowledge.  The novel moves at breakneck pace, as a rogue agent uses forensics, guile and not a little force to make sense of the mysterious murder of his brother.”

—Supreme Court Reporter, New York Times
“Try as I might, I could not put Mental State down. It’s terrific. At times hilarious, always interesting, and in parts truly disturbing. I loved it.” —Michael Seidman, Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center.

 

Elaine Ash edits the novels of career authors as well as emerging talent. A defender of the right to free expression, she serves writers of all political stripes. Her nonfiction book, Bestseller Metrics: How to Win the Novel Writing Game, is also a patent-pending software in development for the publishing industry.  http://www.bestsellermetrics.com

 

 

 

69 responses to “THE MENTAL STATE OF M. TODD HENDERSON- by Elaine Ash PART TWO

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Sorry Sarah but I can’t “like” this because what’s happening to him is extremely madding. 😦

  2. > told me not to publish the book, claiming it would hurt me and hurt the University.

    Asimov got the same treatment from Boston University; the fasculty found out he’d been selling science fiction stories to the pulps, and they weren’t going to have their school’s name besmirched by association with that kind of trash, no sir. Asimov, who was a tenured professor, chose to go back to New York and pursue his writing career.

    It wasn’t even political. They just didn’t like the genre he mostly wrote in.

    He never gave up his tenure. Years later, when he had made more than a million dollars as a writer (back when that was real money) and was internationally famous, the university tried to sleaze onto his coattails by telling everyone how he was one of their professors.

  3. Pingback: Booooooooooring | Mad Genius Club

  4. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Thank you. I am pleased to see that this continues.

  5. Christopher M Chupik

    The Left hates anyone who doesn’t tow the party line, but I’ve found they really, REALLY hate academics who aren’t left-wingers.

      • Academia has never lived up to the ‘search for the Truth’ ideal. Admittedly, right now things are worse than usual, but keep in mind the long period when the most respected Univesities in England would not accept students who would not sign a profession of the Faith of the Church of England.

        And many of the most revered thinkers of that day were ‘dissenters’; people like Joseph Priestly who did not go to University because they held a different (Christian, mind) Faith.

        My Father believed, but ultimately was unable to prove, that the riots of July 1791, during which Priestly’s home was burned down, were instigated by the Church of England hierarchy.

        The ‘search for Truth’ narrative was used by the Progressive Left to defend their ‘scholarship’ when colleges and universities were controled by Conservative administrations. It should surprise nobody that they have largely abandoned it now that they are the ones in control.

        They’re still pillocks, but they sadly aren’t unusual in the history of higher education.

      • On the bright side, journalism isn’t absolutely DEAD. A WSJ journalist investigated this and discovered it somewhat earlier than they intended to end it.

    • Well, of course. One of their mandates is to brainwash/indoctrinate the next generation — can’t do that if there are any dissenting voices that the young people might listen to instead.

    • NOW you tell me??? 🙂

  6. They got brave AFTER my Father retired (no, I’m not claiming a causality, just a sequence of events). Father was an 18th Century Liberal, which is to say an Age of Reason type, and the Liberals on campus (both at CWRU and Iowa State) were scared to death of him.

    Of course, there were some incidents that reinforced that.

    Some time in the late 1970’s my Father was voluntold to be on the versight board for a new dorm for the enginering students. He discovered, to his slack-jawed incredulity, that the dorm was to be full of all kinds of fancy bells and whistles. Computer terminals in each common room (1970’s, remember, though late), both alternating AND direct current (not sure of the reasoning there), and spigots for oxygen and illuminating gas (which is used for bunsen burners).

    Father threw a fit until he found out that the whole idea was that if the building was just living quarters the Federal Government would only cover a small percentage of the cost, but if it was arguably ‘Lab’ space they would cover a lot more (90%? I think it went that high.).

    Father refused to sign the approval. He told them he had no intention of approving of the first college dorm to reach low earth orbit. He knew about engineering students. And he wouldn’t budge.

    The dorm got built without the ‘Lab’ accessories.

    • Wow, quite a story.

    • Take one bread wrapper, fill with oxygen, add a squirt of flamable gas, tie it off, tape a bit of paper to the outside, light paper, and run like hell. Roughly equivalent to one of the old time M-80 crackers they won’t sell any more.
      Do the same with a 30 gallon trash bag and you have the equivalent of a stick of dynamite.
      Or so I’ve been told. Nothing to see here, and besides, statute of limitations.

      • That was more or less where Fether thought the mischief would START.

        Engineering students. Ha!

        When I was on or about Homewood campus at Johns Hopkins, the City of Baltimore had begun to use the ‘Texas Boot’ to immobilize cars. They quickly learned to leave cars parked near the Engineering buildings on Homewood alone. The engineering students liked to take the ‘boots’ apart to see how they worked.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Well, they might not have had the internet to look up the drawings on. And seeing the pieces tells you stuff you can’t learn from drawings.

        • On what cars did they put the reassembled ones on?
          THAT is the important question!

          • The way I heard it, the cops came to the University and made a deal; they wouldn’t ask who was responsible and they’d leave the street (s?) near the Engineering buildings alone, if they could have the ‘boots’ back.

        • That’s mild. I heard about a group of MIT students who put Thermite under the wheels of a trolley while it was briefly stopped, and welded the wheels to the tracks.

          • Gee, when I was at Carnegie Mellon University (1980’s) I heard that same story about a trolley on Forbes Ave, which passes right in front of the university.

            • Good experiments can be repeated with the same results. So someone heard about University A doing it, and feels the need to confirm the research. 😉

              Or a lot of people wish they’d done it.

        • back when, in New Orleans, the city would boot cars on request of the property owners and often for ridiculous reasons on streets (this was in the 80’s) and it was getting ugly, with physical attacks on the city booters, etc.
          A guy pulled into a bank lot, looked in and saw a very long line so he walked over to the Burger King to purchase lunch first and walked out put the lunch into his truck and went into the now less busy bank but still with a line and really no additional people in front of him (iirc he was in line behind a lady he held the door for in his first attempt at entering).
          He got booted while in the bank or maybe while in BK but didn’t notice as he was on the passenger side.
          He walked back in the bank to complain, got a run around, removed his accounts (personal and business) and as they refused to unboot him, (pay city hall fine first or no unlock) he unbooted himself . . . it was a welding truck. He cut it into rather small pieces and drove off.
          Lawsuits were involved and the city stopped booting on request, the bank came out looking like the morons they were/are (BankAmerica) and the guy didn’t have to pay for his “vandalism”.

      • Probably how they invented the fuel air bomb.

    • He told them he had no intention of approving of the first college dorm to reach low earth orbit. He knew about engineering students.

      Hahahahahaha! Girl Genius Sparks, except RL, came to mind.

      Though, perhaps, the reality would be more… ‘hold my beer!’

    • “Father refused to sign the approval. He told them he had no intention of approving of the first college dorm to reach low earth orbit. He knew about engineering students.”

      That just made my day! In my experience, almost no Boy Scout escapes without a spot of pyromania, and few things delight engineers (civil, military, or other) quite like a good explosion. Unless it’s a stupendously awful one.

      • “almost no Boy Scout escapes without a spot of pyromania”

        😉 How to control fire builders once you have taught them the survival skill. Legal & fun challenging options to build one. One of the most fun were soaked wood, not only because it was pouring down rain, but materials were explicitly put in buckets of water & or the entire round (have to split & make all the material), then they & adults, had to race to build their fire to burn the string (yes, like Survivor, but scouts have been doing it a LOT longer & scouts don’t start with made material). Sometimes the scouts had two matches, sometimes just flint & steel …

    • So your Dad was to blame for setting your country’s space program back?

      LEO or Bust!

  7. I believe that for many of today’s SJW’s, the motivation is not so much a set of specific beliefs as it is the warped pleasures of persecution and the release of unhinged rage. Specific belief content is almost incidental. Many of those today denounce a woman for staying home with her kids and not pursuing a career would have been equally happy, 60 years ago, to denounce a woman for who *did* pursue a career.

    In Goethe’s Faust: after Gretchen becomes pregnant, her awful friend Lieschen, who (still unaware of Gretchen’s situation) is licking her chops about the prospect of humiliating another girl (Barbara) who has also become pregnant outside of marriage. Here’s Gretchen, reflecting on her own past complicity in such viciousness:

    How readily I used to blame
    Some poor young soul that came to shame!
    Never found sharp enough words like pins
    To stick into other people’s sins
    Black as it seemed, I tarred it to boot
    And never black enough to suit
    Would cross myself, exclaim and preen–
    Now I myself am bared to sin!
    Yet all of it that drove me here
    God! ws so innocent, was so dear!

    There are an awful lot of people in America today who love to find “sharp enough words like pins to stick in other people’s sins” and are very good at Preening…and the vast majority of them are on the Left.

    • Oh, there are more than a few on the Right, too. What keeps them from being anywhere near as much of a plague is that most of them are Christians and a lot of Christ’s teachings run aganst the Sister Bertha Better-Than-You types. A good Pastor (and there are more of those than the Liberal Left would credit) will pull them up short.

      But they still cause trouble. See Lawdog’s posts about the local sect of what he calls Shia Baptists.

      The Progressive Left has always had this streak, though, and they apply it to their own with the same degree of glee. One of the dark secrets of the so-called Anti-Communist Witch Hunt is that many of the Hollwood types who got ‘named’ to the HUAC were named because they had backstabbed to namer in the name of Ideological Purity.

      • Holier-than-thou is a recognized personality type at church that doesn’t get a lot of sympathy. It exists but is usually discouraged rather than encouraged and likely to have people roll their eyes at you.

        The SJW sorts encourage it rather than discourage it because it’s all “call out” culture and showing how “woke” you are. Plus, who even needs to look out for holier-than-thou tendencies when you’re in opposition to religion?

      • One of the dark secrets of the so-called Anti-Communist Witch Hunt is that many of the Hollwood types who got ‘named’ to the HUAC were named because they had backstabbed to namer in the name of Ideological Purity.

        See good ol’ Dalton Trumbo. He was perfectly happy to use the FBI and the HUAC against Trotskyites and others who opposed Stalin. The reason he got in trouble with them was not because he was standing up for free speech and freedom of association but because he refused to betray fellow Stalinists.

        • The ‘fully Red’ branch of Progressive Leftism is full of nasty squabbles like that, which is one of many reasons I confidently expect our current crop of idiots to auto-cannibalize.

    • Well said. This has become a national pastime for many miserable people.

  8. They imagine remedies for it in their own mind—as if a single human can design a system to solve our social problems. Amazingly, these solutions always involve more government power. People are hungry—the government should feed them. People are ignorant—the government should educate them. People are sad—the government should make them happy. I am skeptical of government power, because at its core it relies on violence.

    THIS.

  9. People are sad—the government should make them happy. I am skeptical of government power, because at its core it relies on violence.

    In other words, beatings will continue until morale improves : – )

    In all seriousness, though, I’m surprised at how few people understand this. I remember a few years ago, some politicians said something similar, and it turned out to be a “controversial statement” rather simply stating the obvious. A law works not by “changing the culture” or whatever magic people are going for these days, but because if you don’t obey it, eventually people with guns will show up and make you obey it. But apparently the idea of government as benevolent kumbaya multicultural Santa Claus has gotten too much traction for people to accept that idea.

    • I’m reminded of that Doctor Who episode with the seventh doctor and its “Happiness Patrol”

      • Christopher M Chupik

        That episode was supposed to be a satire of the Right, but it really doesn’t come off as intended. I guess the truth always leaks through somehow.

        • Sylvester McCoy and Ace were my favorite team, but they didn’t have a lot to work with given that script…

          • Christopher M Chupik

            Yeah, they were a lot of fun. Too bad the show got too political and then got cancelled. Hope history isn’t about to repeat itself . . .

    • Humans banded together when we figured out that multiple people could stop predators better than going it alone. We quickly figured out that also worked to control single predatory humans. The real trouble started when one group went up against another group and we found it usually worked better if we had the group being lead by a someone; and the better that someone was at leading us, the better off we did against the other group. Hurrah! We just invented simple government. Now whether the groups of humans figured out they could push around singular members of their own group, or the leader figured he (or she in rare cases) could get them to do so, the end result was corruption of the government (Pournelle’s Iron Law), and its use to parasitize the members of the group.

      And yes, that’s the thing that either none of the anti-gun crowd understand, or the ones that do understand and are deliberately trying to make people defenseless against the government.

  10. People are hungry—the government should feed them. People are ignorant—the government should educate them. People are sad—the government should make them happy.
    THERE OUGHTA BE A LAW!

    A firm conservative principle should be what Jonah Goldberg stated a couple of decades ago:
    Don’t just do something, stand there!

    • (That is, as in relation to legislatures, courts, presidents, governors, etc.)

    • Yep. SC governor or candidate posted condolences on the recent active shooter. Of course the first comment was calling for gun control. No. Stop, see what failed, fix it. Don’t just pull out the same bill as you did over the last one that had in common that a brass cartridge was used.

      If reports of 5 LE injured, one fatally are correct I’m suspicious of targeting that no control would have slowed.

      • Article I saw was “in response to shots fired” – so an ambush and/or attempted suicide-by-cop.
        The Moms Are Idiots* doofus was jumping on the gun control angle within a half hour.

        (* No, moms aren’t all idiots, but I can’t remember the name of Watts’ anti-gun group and thought that was close enough. (I couldn’t remember Watts’ name until I started typing that last sentence. Oy vey.))

        • Is my first guess. An active shooter would have had non LE victims.

          And it was one if the standard platitudes ‘thoughts with you’. First reply was call for gun control.

        • I also didn’t see any descriptions or photos or name of the suspect…. which means it probably isn’t a Trump voter.

      • One thing I haven’t seen yet is a terrorist, gang, or other criminal group deliberately set up a cop impersonation attack to get them shooting at each other. But I expect to in the next few years.

    • Goldberg was quoting Reagan.

  11. Henderson repeats a leftist myth: Garner (who was grossly obese and diabetic) died of a heart attack, not the chokehold that was briefly applied to subdue him – after he resisted arrest for illegal acts committed in the plain view of police.

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