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Thomas’ Letter Mischaracterizes Debate

Letter to the Editors

By Adam A. Sofen

To the editors:

For Professor of Latin and Greek Richard F. Thomas to imply that Frankfurter Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz’s criticism of Winthrop House Master Paul D. Hanson is akin to a McCarthy-era witch hunt is both inaccurate and insulting (Letters, “Dershowitz Devises One-Sided Debate,” Sept. 27). Thomas ignores a key distinction: Dershowitz has proposed a debate between tenured equals in an academic forum, whereas the McCarthy investigations were inherently unequal and backed up by the coercive power of the law.

Debate and dialogue are bedrock principles of this University. It troubles me that a Harvard professor would view such a challenge, no matter how brashly issued, as even remotely comparable to a “Star Chamber”—another analogy founded on suspect historical reasoning.

Adam A. Sofen ’01

New Haven, Conn.

Sept. 27, 2002

The writer was an executive editor of The Crimson in 2000.

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