Why Ken White Matters

Unlike the doll my sister left naked on the floor, this Ken has balls. Big, bright, shiny brass ones.  When  Marco Randazza described them the other day, he cautioned not to stare, as “we would be blinded by the reflection from their shiny brass surface.” 

His background isn’t quite what one would expect.  Stanford undergrad. Harvard law. Judicial clerkship leading to Assistant United States Attorney.  Smart, for sure, but more natural that he travels the path to big money at Biglaw, or embraces the sanitized world of government service, where his soft, clean hands would never have to touch the dirty hands of those accused of evil.

Ken remained hidden from view for quite a while, allowing him to straddle the world of political opinion without consequence while doing the work asked of him when he made the decision to walk away from the safe hallways of the government;’s wing of the courthouse.  Unlike others who hid because they lacked the guts to own up to their opinions, Ken hid to avoid the appearance of using his opinions to curry favor or seek business.  It gave him the freedom to be critical without suffering the idiots’ reaction that it was a ploy for self-aggrandizement. 

He has since chosen to out himself, meaning I’m now free to write about him.  He deserves it.

The blawgosphere is filled with people who talk tough.  Talking tough is easy, especially when its the sort of thing readers like to hear, beating up on the expected enemies, placing blame on the people we love to hate.  Even the insipid and self-promoting inhabitants of the Happysphere beat up on those listed in the approved enemies list.  But here’s the shocker:  Few, when push comes to shove, have the guts to be the tough guy in real life that they play on the internet.

There are only a handful of bloggers I would want behind me in a knife fight.  Ken White is one.  He’s the real thing.  When someone was needed to stand up, pro bono, for the cause he believes in, Ken was there.  When it was impractical because of distance, Ken was still there.

He may not wear his superhero cape out in public, nor have a pony tail to prove he’s special.  But if the measure of a man is his actions, then Ken White is one damn fine looking fellow.  Robert Redford, eat your heart out.

The end of the year is a wonderful time to look back and give some thought to things that stood out over the past year, perhaps in the hope that it will provide some inspiration to others to follow the path that’s more difficult, more demanding, and serves a greater good than collecting twitter followers and authentically engaging with self-proclaimed thought leaders who might toss you a case.  Ironically, Ken White is as much a thought leader as you will ever find in the blogosphere, though his thoughts aren’t likely to spur any celebrations from social media experts.  The end of the year is a good time to think about Ken White.

There are some very real, very bold, people to be found among the tepid and insipid who feign worthiness in both the courtroom and the internet.  You ought to know who they are.  If you need someone who lives the words he taps on the glowing screen, then look to Ken White.  He’s easy enough to find.  Just send out the Popehat signal.


The Popehat Signal

Ken White stands for something.  He’s someone who matters.  Is anyone blinded by the reflection off your shiny brass balls? 

Addendum: An orthogonal point, as my pal J-Dog used to say.  In an otherwise interesting post, Heather Morse wrote:


How will ANYONE know what great work you are doing if you won’t promote it?

Perhaps this post answers the question.  Be worthy of recognition, do great work, and others will sing your praises.  If no one else does, perhaps that’s an accurate reflection of your work. If you’re left to promote yourself, chances are exceptionally good that you do nothing worthy of promotion. Sorry if this hurts your feelings, but you are not Ken White.

10 comments on “Why Ken White Matters

  1. Ken

    This is terrifically kind, undeserved, and touching, Scott, particularly from someone who has contributed so much to the art of good law blogging (not to mention the deserved calling-out of bad law blogging) and who remains the type of blogger I want to emulate. Thank you.

    I could do without the discussion of my balls, though. Unless you think I’m missing a marketing opportunity. I could always check with a marketeer and see how my balls’ SEO is looking.

  2. SHG

    The “balls” part was a metaphor, unless there’s a literal connection about which I’m unaware.  And if you have any decency, you will allow me to remain blissfully ignorant.

  3. SHG

    I bet it’s more successful than, “but your honor, my client was a product of the public school system and doesn’t know how to convert to the metric system.”

  4. Frank

    Please share with us your secret to walking into a courtroom without clanging. :)

    The praise is well-deserved. Popehat and SJ are the only law blogs that are on my daily read list. There’s a reason for that.

  5. Sam Devol

    You guys are hilarious ;’) Go get a room! Seriously though, I would like learn a little more about Ken, read some of his stuff, but I don’t see any attribution/links…

  6. NLP

    Ken’s alter ego is KenatPopehat. Popehat is a great blog, and (provided the writers don’t disappear into a Skyrim fog) always worth reading.

  7. SHG

    If you’re going to take it upon yourself to answer insipid questions on my blawg, do a better job of it, please. I prefer not to encourage the lazy, lame and halt.

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