Letters to the Editor

BY

Defending Dewey

After my 2L year, I worked as a summer associate in Dewey Ballantine’s D.C. office. Although I ultimately decided on a path that did not include accepting an offer from the firm, I found Dewey Ballantine to be a great place to work. That is why, while I second the comments made by Angela Chan and Prof. Jerry Kang about Mr. Getter’s offensive e-mail, I feel a responsibility to speak up for the individuals I came to know at Dewey Ballantine.

Simply put, Mr. Getter’s comments in no way mirror my experience at Dewey Ballantine. As The Record reports, the firm had already confronted the effects of racial insensitivity arising out of a firm function that included the performance of an offensive parody song about the closing of the firm’s Hong Kong office. I recognize the summer associate gloss that inevitably covers a student’s experience at a firm. With that said, my discussions with associates and partners left me convinced that the people at Dewey Ballantine genuinely cared about fixing whatever element of the firm’s culture allowed for the breakdown in respect that the parody revealed. I also admit that my interaction with those in the firm was limited to the D.C. office. However, firm-wide action seemed to back up the resolve that I witnessed in D.C.

Mr. Getter’s comments serve as reminder that Dewey Ballantine’s work is unfinished. In a firm of over five-hundred lawyers, the work may never end. Perhaps it is best that it never does. That APALSA is now working with the firm is a welcome development, and I applaud the programs that the firm announced in recent weeks. As Dewey Ballantine deals with these issues, I hope observers will not evaluate the firm solely on the basis of the racially insensitive remarks of a few in its ranks, but also on the basis of what the firm has done, and will do, in response. These latter developments, I believe, are a more accurate reflection of the culture at Dewey Ballantine – certainly, they represent the combined character of the people with whom I worked.

Damon Rahbar-Daniels, 3L

Kerry’s conscience

I believe presidential candidate John Kerry and some members of the media have distorted the Catholic Church’s stance on Senator John Kerry and its teaching on conscience. I would like to take just a moment to preface the following with the proviso that this is my understanding of the teachings of the Catholic Church, and I cannot claim to speak definitively. That said, first, just because the Catholic Church chastises a Catholic politician for his public stance and votes on issues such as abortion, gay marriage and stem cells does not mean that it condemns Catholic voters who vote for him. Neither President George Bush nor Senator Kerry is perfectly in line with Catholic moral and social teachings. As such, voters have to weigh the pros and cons of each candidate in light of the Church’s teaching and their informed conscience. The Church does, however, note that abortion is a particularly great evil that corrupts society at its very root, the defenseless child.

Second, the Catholic Church has a moral duty to publicly chastise Senator Kerry and other Catholic politicians who flout the value of life. Senator Kerry claims to be Catholic, but he is, in the eyes of the Church, committing grave sin by his public support and legislative votes for abortion, among other issues. Allowing Senator Kerry to make the claim of being a committed Catholic while publicly holding these views and voting as he does is scandalous. By scandal, I mean that it tends to lead others to sin. His claims and actions, made unchallenged, encourage others to believe that it is morally acceptable for a Catholic to believe and vote as Senator Kerry does. It is the proper place of the Church to protect its faithful by condemning scandal when it occurs.

Finally, Senator Kerry has attempted to attack those who would fault him by claiming that Vatican II enshrined the principle of following one’s conscience. This is true, but this must be understood in the context of the following two points. First, a Catholic has a duty to inform his conscience. Just because an individual believes something does not mean that he can claim he is acting on an informed conscience. Informing one’s conscience requires prayer, effort, and an attempt to understand and accept the Church’s teaching. I do not know if Senator Kerry has made this attempt, and it is not my place to judge. Second, just because a Catholic conscientiously believes something does not mean that the Church should not condemn scandalous conduct when it occurs. Even if Senator Kerry conscientiously believes he must follow his stated position, his conduct is still morally wrong in the eyes of the Church. A Catholic who publicly commits objectively wrong actions commits scandal.

Mark Leen, 3L

Don’t joke about Springsteen

I write with a mixture of outrage and disappointment about the unsigned editorial that appeared in your April Fools issue and discussed the relative merits of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty (“Bruce Springsteen kicks ass”).It has always been my understanding that the April Fools issue – including each of the articles appearing therein – is a parody. But your Bruce Springsteen editorial cannot under any conceivable theory be considered to be a parody. To the contrary, it is difficult to find a single word with which to disagree in the entire piece (though I confess to completely failing to understand the reference to “Vic Mackie” and “the Farmington District”).I hope that the Record works to improve its quality control procedures so that egregious errors like this cannot occur in the future.

Samuel BagenstosAssistant Professor of Law

Editor’s Note: Vic Mackie is the no-nonsense ass-kicker on “The Shield,” an informative depiction of learned and effective police work. Watch it Tuesday nights, on FX.

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