Free Speech: Priceless


To The Editor:

I was disappointed, but not surprised, to read your article “Undergrads Silenced by College Administrators.” It is sad to see the price students have to pay for “free” speech at Harvard, particularly when the shake-down order comes from the faculty.

Mr. Lamberson writes that “our own school’s commitment to these ideals can be debated.” I don’t think the debate would last long. Current students may be aware of HLS’ censure of Profs. Rosenberg and Nesson under the guise of “racial sensitivity”; and those with a little institutional memory are aware of HLS’ efforts to impose a “speech code.”

Current students may be less familiar with the efforts by Prof. Nesson and other faculty members to silence Fenno’s rantings. Ad Board charges were filed against me and other RECORD editors five years ago when we refused to identify the student author behind Fenno. Nesson even threatened us with a libel suit! We refused and the charges were quietly dropped.

The year before, Prof. Miller took offense to comments made in a RECORD article by 1L Section Reps. Apparently, Miller was not happy that his students revealed the fact that he frequently failed to show up for class, often without notice. The day after the article appeared, Miller proceeded to berate these students in his Civ. Pro. class under the guise of a “hypothetical” libel suit that a “Civ. Pro. professor” might bring against two students. It was quite an impressive shake-down by the master of the Socratic Method. Cha-ching!

There are, of course, strong advocates for free speech among the HSL faculty, most notably Prof. Dershowitz; but the free speech witch hunt can easily overrun the Law School, particularly when a faculty member’s fragile ego is bruised. To borrow from William Congreve: Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor Hell a fury like a Professor scorned.

-Rob Friedman ’98

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