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(2,992 posts)
Sun Jan 19, 2020, 09:21 AM Jan 2020

Why I think Alan Dershowitz is a contrarian. [View all]

A lot is being said of Alan Dershowitz serving on the Orange One's defense team for the impeachment trial. There are lots of reasons why this is odd, not least of which Dershowitz's previous alliances with the Democratic Party. So a lot of people are saying things like "he's lost his marbles" or "he's lost it."

I don't necessarily think so, and there's a reason I think that way.

First - yes, he was on the defense teams that let OJ walk and got Epstein a scandalously light sentence. Assuming he played a major role in those defenses, that doesn't necessarily mean he's nuts. It means he's amoral, but it also means he's a good defense attorney, and that he did his job well. That being said, these were defense teams. Dershowitz wasn't the lone defense attorney, and I've never seen an accounting of who on these teams did what. So he might have been present as window dressing, for all I know.

I think he's a contrarian. I'm an academic, and I encounter such people all the time. These are people who adopt positions contrary to the consensus. They don't necessarily believe them, but they like the notoriety and attention that comes from being a lone voice in a crowd. Almost every academic field has them.

There's a difference between a contrarian and a denialist. Most of the academics or think tank inhabitants claiming that human-driven climate change has stopped, or that human activity isn't to blame, are doing it for the money, political bias, or both. They may also like the attention, but the main motivators are either financial or political. Contrarians may make money from public appearances and whatnot, but it's all about the attention.

Anyway - why do I think Dershowitz is a contrarian?

I decided this when I saw him comment on the Amanda Knox case.

Ms Knox was an American college student who was studying in Italy when her British roommate was murdered. The local police decided that Ms Knox and her Italian boyfriend were involved in some sort of sex orgy gone wrong. Ms Knox was arrested, interrogated with neither a defense attorney nor interpreter, and eventually convicted of the crime. Her conviction was overturned on appeal and she came back to the US, but the Italian system lets the prosecution appeal acquittals (something they initially did to deal with corrupt judges); her acquittal was overturned, she was convicted again, and the second conviction was also overturned. So she's been cleared, but it took a long time.

The media - especially, though not exclusively, the Italian and British tabloids - went nuts over this. They published all sorts of salacious stories about Mx Knox and/or the crime, most of which were either bullshit, misinterpreted beyond all resemblance to reality, or taken way, way out of context.

If one actually looks at the facts of the case, it becomes very, very clear that the crime was committed by a lone intruder. Every bit of forensic evidence used against Ms Knox or her boyfriend was later shown to be misinterpreted or contaminated. Her "incriminating statements" and "odd behavior" were only incriminating or odd in the tabloids; in reality, they were perfectly normal given the circumstances.

Eventually, almost every legal expert in the US agreed that Ms Knox had been railroaded - that this was a classic case of tunnel vision in which law enforcement decided what happened and framed everything they saw in that context. Mx Knox was obviously innocent of this crime, and the police and prosecutors involved in the case gave a textbook example of how not to investigate a violent crime.

I say "almost" because one American lawyer took the opposite view - Alan Dershowitz.

This is when I decided he wasn't just an amoral defense attorney, but a contrarian. He wasn't involved with the case. He didn't have to open his yap about it. And yet, open his yap he did - and what came forth were claims that the evidence against Ms Knox was very strong. Given his defense of OJ Simpson, where the evidence against his client was pretty solid, this struck me as flat-out absurd. It was like claiming that ghost pepper sauce is as mild as milk, but that strawberry jam is a fiery condiment sure to cauterize your taste buds.

Then I remembered that he works at a university, and it all fell into place. He's a contrarian academic. He may or many not have thought Ms Knox was guilty (just as he may or may not have thought OJ was innocent), but he adopted his position based on his perception of consensus and desire to move in the opposite direction.

Anyway - my tuppence. I think it's worth considering as we watch him on cable news.

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Dershowitz is a attention monger, grandstander and showboater, democratisphere Jan 2020 #1
Agreed, but he's a particular type of attention monger, grandstander, and showboater. cab67 Jan 2020 #4
Is Jonathan Turley a contrarian? dewsgirl Jan 2020 #2
I think so, to some extent. cab67 Jan 2020 #3
He came to my mind too. Mike 03 Jan 2020 #13
for all his bombast, he is not a constitutionalist. hlthe2b Jan 2020 #5
I agree with you in part. cab67 Jan 2020 #6
Deluded & poorly informed on the constitution. I said he earned his reputation on criminal defense/ hlthe2b Jan 2020 #7
righto. cab67 Jan 2020 #8
He says he opposes impeachment no matter who it is or what they do bluedye33139 Jan 2020 #9
He moved far right after 9-11. Voltaire2 Jan 2020 #10
Contrarians can be assholes. cab67 Jan 2020 #26
Sure, but he is primarily a rightwing asshole. Voltaire2 Jan 2020 #41
Correct greenjar_01 Jan 2020 #29
Dersh may be a contrarian, and love the sound of his own voice FM123 Jan 2020 #11
Yes and no. cab67 Jan 2020 #25
I think it's simpler than that. His *true* involvement w/ Epstein is known to Bill Barr. Dennis Donovan Jan 2020 #12
Also, he might think that participating in this trial will change the subject from the Epstein case Mike 03 Jan 2020 #20
Why think Alan Dershowitz is a piece of shit. denbot Jan 2020 #14
In no way am I excusing anything. cab67 Jan 2020 #48
FBI Profiler John Douglas was also one of the first people to ridicule the prosecution's theory Mike 03 Jan 2020 #15
Contrarian, perhaps, but equipped with the flimsiest, paper-thin arguments and evidence Mr. Ected Jan 2020 #16
This is something denialists, contrarians, and crackpots all share in common. cab67 Jan 2020 #24
Just for clarification Mike 03 Jan 2020 #17
Dershowitz thought Knox was guilty. cab67 Jan 2020 #22
My bad! I see what you are saying. Mike 03 Jan 2020 #28
In most cases, sociopathy. cab67 Jan 2020 #47
Even worse, he thought the US should not interfere in her behalf MaryMagdaline Jan 2020 #37
But at least snowybirdie Jan 2020 #18
Is that fancy talk for "nobber" ? OnDoutside Jan 2020 #19
We used to have a phrase. Mike 03 Jan 2020 #21
This isn't mutually exclusive of being a contrarian. cab67 Jan 2020 #23
I appreciate what you are getting at. Mike 03 Jan 2020 #31
Much appreciated. cab67 Jan 2020 #38
Lots of people continue to believe Knox and Sollecito involved greenjar_01 Jan 2020 #27
This is indeed unfortunate. cab67 Jan 2020 #44
People certainly believe all kinds of things greenjar_01 Jan 2020 #49
Ego, at some level, often involved? empedocles Jan 2020 #30
Usually. cab67 Jan 2020 #45
Dersch is giving the GOP an excuse to acquit. aeromanKC Jan 2020 #32
Good point-- he knows being contrary is what gets attention. dawg day Jan 2020 #33
On the other hand, Ken Starr is just a Republican house painter. rickford66 Jan 2020 #34
If by "contrarian" you mean a danger to democracy, scrabblequeen40 Jan 2020 #35
Most contrarians are intellectually dishonest. cab67 Jan 2020 #46
This is a good explanation for his behavior MaryMagdaline Jan 2020 #36
This is a very good point. cab67 Jan 2020 #43
Occam's razor .... rufus dog Jan 2020 #39
I'm reminded of an old Far Side cartoon. cab67 Jan 2020 #42
But he is a consistent contrarian... kentuck Jan 2020 #40
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