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Blair Hornestine An Exceptional Case

Letter to the Editors

By Jonah M. Knobler

To the editors:

This letter is in reference to Zachary S. Podolsky’s column on Harvard’s reaction to Blair Hornstine (“The Blair Witch Hunts,” May 16). Unexpectedly finding myself mentioned as a signer of a petition that supposedly represents “arrogance and hypocrisy,” I feel the need to question Podolsky’s quickness to judge me (and the others who have spoken out against her lawsuit).

Podolsky notes that “when [rotten apples] rear their ugly heads,” we must “deal with them appropriately and give them their just desserts.” But then, he says that because Harvard is “already crawling with Blair Hornstines,” it’s “hypocritical” to react to her lawsuit with shock and abhorrence.

First of all, just because some students of questionable character are already present among us, why should we lose the right to express moral indignation at an act that, Podolsky admits, “turns [his] stomach?” Is it truly “hypocrisy” to acknowledge that Harvard has some undesirably selfish people, yet simultaneously desire to avoid perpetuating or worsening this state of affairs?

Also, while there are certainly many competitive people at Harvard, it’s drastically inappropriate to equate their actions with those of Blair Hornstine, who is single-handedly attempting to bankrupt her entire public school district just to assure that no one shares the title of “valedictorian” with her. This displays a ruthless disregard for her entire community and a level of selfishness far deeper than that of most any competitive Harvard student. Unlike Podolsky, I and many others do find this act “uniquely outrageous.”

Lastly, while the “introspection” and self-questioning Mr. Podolsky recommends in the aftermath of the Hornstine incident are no doubt beneficial, they do not address the issue of Hornstine herself. How would Podolsky suggest “deal[ing] with [her]” and giving Hornstine her “just desserts,” but in a less “hypocritical” fashion?

I notice that he doesn’t offer any suggestions.

Jonah M. Knobler ’03

May 16, 2003

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