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June 26, 2016


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Nat Turner was a murderous thug, and you should be ashamed of yourself for celebrating him. (As much as you may try to dusguise it as innocent academic inquiry, it is clear that you view Turner as a hero.). Your work is an argument against the very concept of tenure.


Prof Brophy

I agree in the main with your response to Anon, and, certainly, with the notion that you should not be fired!

And, I believe that you are capable of working up history with a view toward relating the law as it was effected in past days.

However, I cannot agree that you do not reveal bias in your summaries on this site. These days, we are constantly bombarded by lawyers posing as psychiatrists, misusing terms of art and throwing around notions of "bias" that is undiscovered in the individual himself.

Although I find most of these assertions risible, I do note that you probably do not. Therefore, take a page from your own book, so to speak, and examine your pov.

You and I debated at length the trials of an individual afforded extraordinary measures of due process, in an era when that due process was often denied to black men, to correct injustices at the trial court level.

But, you could not bring yourself to admit it. YOu could only see the injustice, not the efforts of the "all white" appellate courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States, on behalf of this man. And, despite three convictions, the last of these after two reversed convictions, you could not even admit the POSSIBLITY of the man's guilt.

In this dialogue, you were biased. And, your post above does portray this man as a hero. Perhaps, then, you would find some individuals who commit heinous acts today heroes as well based on race, ethnicity or political motivations with which you agree?

This would be a fertile self-examination, I think. Professor, perhaps you might test the bounds of your own prejudices! And, perhaps, rather than dismissing others perceptions of your biases so quickly, however ill informed or inartfully stated, you might examine the possible truth in this assertion.

Alfred L. Brophy


Thanks for the kind words about my job security. Of all the reasons to fire me, that I write on Nat Turner is pretty far down the list!

Regarding the great Jess Hollins debate. If anyone other than you and me cares about this (highly unlikely, I know), I want to remind them that you were focused at least initially on what crime Hollins committed and how he could be convicted several times (once he pled guilty because of fear of a lynching):

The most salient lesson of the Hollins case isn't that sometimes the legal system *eventually* worked after laughably biased treatment. Recall that Jess Hollins died in prison because after he received a life sentence he didn't want to appeal and risk a retrial and a death sentence. What an outcome. And I'd add what an indictment of the Jim Crow Oklahoma legal system.

I want to say that your asking about this led me to look more deeply at it. And that's what led me to the NAACP papers and then to find Karl Llewellyn's "lost" foreword to the NAACP's brief urging prosecution of lynchers:

Thanks for pushing that issue. We obviously disagree dramatically about how to interpret Jess Hollins, but I learned a lot from our exchange and it improved my thinking and work.

To return to the issue of Nat Turner, I have often wondered (though not in print that I recall) how the Turner rebellion altered the trajectory of the slave south. I think it's entirely possible the rebellion made further anti-slavery action harder in the short term. I've written some about violence by slaves in regard to Sarah Roth's book on anti-slavery and pro-slavery thought

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