Stephen Glass is the serial fabulist who worked for Andrew Sullivan at The New Republic in the 1990s. He made up sources, their quotes, even complete stories. You can read this Vanity Fair piece or watch the movie Shattered Glass for more details. I hear that Glass' "novel" is a rather self-serving explanation of the events surrounding his downfall.
Anyway, he went to law school and passed the New York bar exam. He withdrew his application to practice law in New York, however, when he realized he was going to be denied on moral considerations. Now he's trying to gain entrance to the California bar. And facing a little bit of trouble.
Joe Nocera opines in the New York Times:
He is 39 now, nearly 14 years removed from the events that made him infamous. You remember those events, don’t you? In his early 20s, as a staff writer for The New Republic, Glass committed one of the most egregious journalistic hoaxes of all time, writing an astonishing 42 articles over a two-and-a-half-year span that were either partially or entirely fabricated. For The New Republic, Rolling Stone, Harper’s and others, he turned in articles that had made-up characters, invented dialogue and imaginary scenes. When the truth came out, it was a huge scandal; Glass’s journalism career was, quite properly, destroyed.
But should the rest of his life also be destroyed? That, apparently, is the view of the Committee of Bar Examiners, which vets bar applicants for the State Bar of California. Given how Glass has turned his life around (more about that in a minute), it is a little hard to understand its resistance. So far, the committee has lost in two separate judicial proceedings, but it continues to press on, making this last-ditch appeal to the California State Supreme Court. I e-mailed John P. McNicholas III, the committee chairman, to ask him why his group was being so petty and vindictive.
I'm curious what you all think. Were Glass' crimes so bad that the shouldn't be allowed to practice law? How do we know if he's demonstrated contrition? What's the evidence? What's the harm in permitting a serial fabulist to practice law?
I really bristle against the notion that Glass' life would be destroyed, as Nocera put it, if he weren't permitted to practice law. Come on. There are countless other things he could do.
And I remember the people -- the conservatives -- that Glass' lies hurt. I remember the lies about conservative functions and events he spread. I am not even satisfied that he's actually contrite. On the other hand, I am permitted to write even though I plagiarized something significant in high school.
What should be the guiding principles for determining how to proceed here?