Jews, Law Professors, Law Schools

Is There A Talmudic Masekhet On Sock-Puppets? There’s A Law Professor Who Needs To Know

Sock-Puppets are a scourge of our time. How annoying does a person have to be create a fake, online persona specifically for the purpose of touting their own real life views?

We usually think of the most annoying commenter creating a fake persona, or “sock puppet,” to promote their “real” online persona. Occasionally, oversensitive journalists or bloggers will create an internet identity for the express purpose of pimping their articles on social media.

But today we’ve got a law professor who just got busted for creating a fake online handle to promote his scholarship. That the law professor is also a rabbi who got busted by “The Jewish Channel” just heightens the embarrassment….

Professor Michael J. Broyde teaches at Emory Law and is also a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University. He also apparently has a very high opinion of himself. As the Chronicle for Higher Education reports:

Emory University is reviewing allegations by a Jewish-oriented television channel that a prominent professor at the university’s law school created a fake identity to join a rabbinical group and apparently used that persona to tout his own scholarship, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Those allegations stemmed from an investigation by the Jewish Channel, a cable-television channel that is distributed throughout the United States. According to a report the channel posted online last week, the investigation accused Michael J. Broyde, an Orthodox rabbi and Emory law professor who is a senior fellow at the university’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion, of creating a fake persona to publish letters in well-regarded journals that frequently praised his own work.

Professor Broyde initially denied the reports. But later, he seemed to admit to his transgressions in a letter to a past president of the International Rabbinic Fellowship. The Jewish Channel published the letter. Broyde said that he first created the pseudonym years ago, but that “somebody else” started using it again recently and that prompted the investigation:

I realize that being an IRF member through a pseudonym was inappropriate. I am sorry. Please understand that no malice was intended and my participation was not intended to interfere with the growth or success of the IRF.

I said and did nothing after I stopped using this name as I thought that silence was simply better for all of us. But it is clear to me that my conduct was inappropriate and I have regretted it for a while. I hope you and the other members of the IRF will forgive me for this error on my part.

Now we need to wait and see how Emory responds. What’s the proper punishment for a professor sock-puppeting his own scholarship? Something tells me that it should be something more than “embarrassment,” but this shouldn’t be a career ending transgression.

Emory Law Professor Is Accused of Creating a Fake Identity to Tout His Work [Chronicle for Higher Education]
The Rabbi Behind the Screen [The Jewish Channel]
Investigation Update: Rabbinical Court Judge Apologizes for “Error of Judgment” [The Jewish Channel]

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