Letter to the Editor: Applause to JLSA leaders, not Harvard

To the editor:

I want to applaud Jon Gartner, Jeremy Salinger, and Jacquie Wolpoe for their remarkable restraint and interest in comity by not publishing the name of the student responsible for the comments to Tzipi Livni this past Thursday. I hope that if the situation was reversed — and a slur (even if “only” an intentionally offensive and delegitimizing but not intentionally racist or sexist insult) was made, affected groups would show the same astounding level of restraint in the interest of furthering dialogue. As the comments were originally made (presumably?) in order to delegitimize the entire event without any substantive dialogue, I also hope that this example leads others to choose to engage in substantive dialogue rather than jumping to conclusions that do nothing to solve complicated and emotionally charged issues.

Having said that, the decision by the Harvard Law administration to release a full video of the event — yet to explicitly censor the obnoxious and senselessly immature comments — bodes poorly on our institution, and demands an explanation or justification.

While I fully believe that the comments were not a conscious anti-Semitic and sexist slur, they were at best still a public and personal insult on a foreign dignitary. The packed event was clearly public and clearly recorded. Harvard Law is sending a message that censorship may be appropriate if comments are embarrassing or offensive — a dangerous precedent and a signal that Harvard does not trust us to take responsibility for our own actions. While I recognize the unique and difficult situation that the administration has been facing over the last few months, I hope that in the future, the law school will entirely avoid this kind of censorship — or will at least be more transparent as to why they are engaging in it.

Brandon Levey is a 2L.

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