No One Is Safe


“Honestly, I would be sick of reading another story about me,” says 3L Murad Kalam, a soon-to-be-published novelist. He is sitting in Starbucks in an unassuming button down shirt and gray slacks. Between abrupt gulps of coffee, he is animatedly attempting to explain his book, his life and even his future.

A Harvard English major, Kalam won the prestigious O. Henry award last year for his short story “Bow Down.” Yet unlike most aspiring authors, he maintains that he fully intends to practice law.

His explanation of his path to these somewhat incongruous destinations unfolds in a mishmash of tangents and analogies as he treads a fine line between cynicism and inspiration. A conversation with Kalam puts one squarely in the center of a tornado of publishers, agents, authors, lawyers, fictional characters and the specters of famous past novelists who seem constantly to peer over his shoulder. He seems aware of his potential position in the grand pedigree of literary tradition, invoking the names of great authors as regularly as breathing.

“Toni Morrison said: ‘If there’s a book you want to read that isn’t out there, you’re supposed to write it'” he said. “…so that’s exactly what I did.”

Kalam describes his book, “Night Journey,” as a coming-of-age novel about a boxer growing up in poverty in southern Phoenix, AZ and moving to the corruption and greed of Las Vegas – a far cry from modern detritus that he dismisses as about “fornicating in the suburbs.”

“It’s about facing yourself,” he said. “It’s about love and the value of people. It’s about disillusionment, innocence and obsession with the past.”

Though he speaks excitedly and fluidly of authors and fiction, Kalam’s brow furrows when he begins discussing the somewhat less esoteric world of publishing.

“As a first time author, it is very difficult to find an agent. [It is] very difficult to find some one who will really take the time to work with you,” he said.

The genesis of Kalam’s novel began with a thesis, advised by Robert Cohen and mentored by Jamaica Kincaid. The various twists and turns on his six-year journey to publication include quite a few fortuitous occurrences, such as his introduction to his agent and the discovery of a publisher willing to work extensively with him. Kalam’s appreciation for all those that have taken their time to work with him seems refreshing – he seems almost unaware of the role his own innate talent must have played in getting them to invest so heavily in his work.

Kalam pauses for a moment to emphasize the contribution of “One-L” author Scott Turow, whom he met while acting as the vice-president of the HLS Forum.

“He’s really been great,” Kalam said. “His involvement really helped me get my foot in the door. Turow even offered to “blurb” Kalam’s book for him – without asking.

After graduating from Harvard in 1996 and taking a year to work on his thesis, Kalam moved home to work on his novel. He researched extensively, reading books and using the Internet. He would drive through the area where the book was set to “notice the little things.”

His research must have paid off. Last summer, while working at a firm, Kalam gave a chapter of his book which took place in a crackhouse, to one of the partners to read. The partner returned it, looking deeply troubled. “He said that he had done some work in a crackhouse once, and that my writing was a very accurate description. I had to tell him that I had read a book about it.”

Indeed, Kalam seems pleasantly isolated from the situations about which he writes. As the son of a doctor who grew up in the suburbs of Mesa, AZ in what he describes as a, “conservative” community; what authority does he wield when writing about subjects such as poverty, prostitution, drugs and gangs?

“The thing is, there are so many fewer degrees of separation in the black community between someone who goes to Harvard and the people that I write about,” he said.

He will have many fewer degrees of separation from the subjects of his next novel. His face lights up when he talks about his new project: “It’s about Harvard Law School. It’s a subtle satire about the other side of prestige. About the many complex and interesting characters we have here with access to power.”

He breathlessly expounds upon the theme, calling his experience here “real, but it could have been a novel, everything just worked out so perfectly.” He reminisces for a minute on the built-in love story-Kalam is now married to a fellow 3L Rashann Duvall. He will write, he says, not only about the experience and the “mindgame” but about “these humongous walking egos we call professors.”

Indeed, as Kalam describes different personalities, Cambridge starts to seem more like a scene from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – and that’s just how he likes it. “There are so many great characters. [So many] are incredibly brilliant, but poorly adapted to reality.”

So, with all this talent, why law? “Writers hate each other,” he said. “I like lawyers better. I have every intention of practicing once I graduate. Writing is isolating. I wanted to be out there in the world. I want to have conversations around the water cooler.”

But he plans to write about HLS first. “It will be a catharsis, a gift to my class.” He raises and eyebrow and grins mischievously, “and absolutely no one is safe.”



Ripping open his mail, Fenno couldn’t believe his eyes, but there it was. He had managed to accumulate $140,000 in debt over his three years at HLS, and the first payment was due soon. After the bar, all those computer loans would catch up with him. Fenno looked around his room and turned to his only hope for salvation.

He had already traveled this route unsuccessfully a dozen times, but Fenno reasoned that luck was in the air this week. The planets were in alignment for last time for a century. Shaking his computer out of hibernation, Fenno clicked on the “Westlaw Rewards” icon on his “Favorites” toolbar. The computer failed. Fenno clicked again. Failure. Tears streamed down Fenno’s face as he tried to enter the site again. He heard a chime. The screen said “Congratulations! You are the winner of Westlaw Rewards for the month of April! Proceed to Dean Clark’s office to collect your prize.”

Fenno jumped up and grabbed his jacket. He wasn’t sure if this meant that he was going to get a measly $100 or three years of tuition paid off, but either way he’d be able to eat tonight. He sprinted to Griswold and knocked on the Dean’s door. Clark was behind his desk, wearing a top hat and tails. There was also a nun, a soldier, and a short Ku Klux Klansman in the office. Fenno squinted and refocused. It was actually Kelly Hartline, Sasha Volokh and Kiwi Camara. Something wicked was afoot.

“You’re just in time, Fenno,” said the top-hat donning Clark. “We’re about to head over to pick up everyone’s prizes!”

“Prizes? You mean all of them won, too?” asked Fenno. Everyone nodded. Clark hopped from his seat and danced toward the door, beckoning the four students to follow. When they reached the Griswold doors, Fenno gasped as he saw the vehicle parked in front of the building. It looked like a huge, modified golf cart, but it was unlike any golf cart Fenno had ever seen. Golden, trombone-like pipes ran through thing, which was painted the most grotesque shade of green that Fenno had ever seen.

“Hop on!” yelled Clark as he jubilantly climbed into the driver’s seat. Fenno and the other four students squeezed into the cart and watched as Clark turned a number of knobs and switches. Fenno could hear a strange bubbling around him.

“What’s all of that noise Dean?” asked Hartline. “I’ve never heard any engine sound like that.”

The Dean laughed as the car started to roll. “That’s because this engine is my own design. It runs entirely on greed!”

Fenno felt something strange in his pants and watched in amazement as the trombone-looking tube next to him sucked four crisp $20 bills out of his pocket. The cart started to move and soon Fenno saw that they were approaching Hauser. Clark ran into the building and the four students followed. When Fenno entered he couldn’t believe his eyes. The bottom floor of Hauser had been completely transformed. The classrooms were gone, and a river of chocolate ran past them. Lush vegetation grew everywhere.

“I’ve got to try it!” yelled Kiwi, running up to the river of chocolate. Clark mumbled something that sounded discouraging under his breath, but it was inaudible. Fenno thought it was strange that he didn’t smell chocolate. As Kiwi dipped his head into the river, Fenno heard a scream and looked over. Camera turned toward them and Fenno saw that his face was now shockingly black. He seemed catatonic and was yelling that his lips were burning. Immediately what looked like miniaturized versions of two of the other Deans ran up and dragged Kiwi away. Their faces were blue for some reason Fenno couldn’t decipher.

“What in God’s name kind of chocolate is that, Clark?” yelled Fenno.

“Who said anything about chocolate? The drinking fountain overflowed. That’s just Boston tap water. It is a bit grainy.”

They continued to walk through Hauser when Hartline demanded that they stop.

“I don’t know where we’re headed Dean, but this vegetation looks delicious,” she said. “I mean, it looks just the way I picture all of the good vegetables looking in the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve did that horrible, horrible thing.”

Clark mumbled something under his breath, but no one was listening. Hartline put some of the plants in her mouth. Almost immediately, she started twitching and yelling out about the taste of sin. She fell to the ground and began to insanely yell Madonna lyrics from the ’80s. Fenno thought he heard “Like A Prayer” as the two miniature deans dragged her in the direction they had taken Kiwi. One of the miniatures was rapping something about “oompas.”

“What kind of plants are you growing down here Clark?” yelled Fenno. “Technically, these aren’t plants, Fenno. Everyone knows that toxic mold is the only thing growing in Hauser,” replied Clark. He tipped his top hat towards Fenno.

“I guess it’s just the two of you left,” said Clark, looking at Fenno and Volokh. The Dean and Sasha started to laugh maniacally.

“Sasha! Think fast!” said Clark, as he whipped out a gun. Sasha reached for his, but before he could get to it, Clark had pulled the trigger and Sasha was lying on the floor dead. Fenno couldn’t believe his eyes.

“You shot him!” yelled Fenno.

“I always had a mild taste for irony,” said Clark, in a wooden tone. Fenno was in shock. Clark grabbed Fenno’s hand and pulled him towards the elevator.

“What are you going to do to me?” said Fenno, as the elevator doors shut.

“Oh Fenno, stop worrying. You’ll be fine. You won, just like I knew you would. Sasha and Kiwi and Kelly will all be fine too, as soon as the oompas finish with them. I needed to test you to see who would take my place and own all of this. Now I want to show you something.”

The Dean turned a key in the elevator and it began to move upward faster than Fenno had ever felt it travel. Twenty minutes later it burst through the Hauser roof, and Clark slid back a panel revealing a window. Fenno could see everything below. Langdell and Pound were visible, but the elevator was headed towards Allston. Below, Fenno could see construction on the new law school.

“This is where I’m building my new lawyer factory, Fenno. And I want you to run it. It will all be yours. Over there is where we’ll add the cynicism, and right there we’ll pump in B

Fenno covered up his ears and screamed.

“But I don’t want a factory! We’re not supposed to be mechanically making lawyers like so many automobiles, or bars of chocolate. Education is supposed to expand the mind, not stifle it!”

Just as he was building to a crescendo, Fenno stopped ranting, realizing Clark was lying on the elevator floor, laughing. Fenno stared at him for a monent, finally seeing the truth. He helped Clark off the floor.

“So where do I put the apathy?” asked Fenno

Finding your summer soundtrack


Ah…summer. You don’t have to be too much of a starry-eyed dreamer to instinctually associate the glitter-kissed rays of sunlight that fill long days of summer with the familiar caress of a favorite song, or give a pulse to the long warm nights with the gut-level jump of a catchy beat. The season basically begs a soundtrack….

As such, in my last piece for the RECORD this year, I wanted to leave y’all with a few leads in assembling your own summer soundtrack: a few websites, albums, tours and other sources for broadening your musical horizons. In the humble hopes that one of these avenues might turn up a song or a rhythm that propels your own musical memories, here is a quick-and-dirty blueprint for musical exploration in the months ahead:

The Web

While many people this summer might not have the same hot-and-cold-running-T1-access that we take for granted on campus, there’s no reason not to check out the following hot music websites in between Westlaw sessions at the firm: Imagine a program that basically ferrets out the preferences that undergird your overall musical tastes, and then uses those preferences to introduce you to a realm of stuff that you are almost guaranteed to like. Well, as it turns out, the demo available on this website does exactly that. Participants fill out an extensive survey, ranking different songs against one another, entering the names of artists who they enjoy, and commenting on the types of things they like in a song. Then the program generates a playlist featuring both familiar favorites and new finds. On the first try I was determined to beat the thing with the sheer depth and eclecticism of my musical tastes – confuse it by rating country crooners, ska bands, gangster rappers and operatic tenors with the same high marks. But, like the chess playing computer, it beat me at my own game – not only did I really like just about everything it suggested, but I ended up with a playlist with a varied, yet fluid tapestry of styles that even college radio at its best can barely pull off. While it scares me that there is some algorithm out there that can predict musical taste with eerie accuracy, I’m also pretty psyched that it has given me a few hints at what to look for next time I’m at the record store. One of the best, most eclectic legal MP3 sites. Aside from having an excellent collection of electronica, epitonic also features an extensive and cross-referenced array of indie rock, punk and folk listings. Just a few hours on this site will give you a great survey of a lot of music you might never hear on all but the most cutting-edge radio stations. Ever wondered whether you could be the next Paul van Dyk, John Digweed or BT? For those with a hankering to test their mixing and composing skills, acidplanet provides an interactive electronica production experience that may well be a harbinger of things to come. The site gives users the tools to remix favorite songs or compose new ones using a variety of loops and samples in conjunction with their free downloadable software. New wave phenoms New Order were so taken with it that they recently hosted a contest to see which users could create the best remixes of songs from their most recent album. After a few addictive hours putting your best tracks together, you’ll see why. A treasure trove of cutting edge hip-hop, Chuck D’s rapstation is another free, legal source of an amazing variety of MP3’s, with offerings from established artists and up-and-coming groups. With a healthy selection of hip-hop styles, this site is yet another revelation for those seeking a new groove or two. While it won’t turn you into Ken Walczak overnight, this site is quite possibly the best way to stay abreast of all the happenings in the indie rock world. Thoughtful interviews, thorough reviews and extensive coverage of some of the genre’s best bands make this an indispensable site for any music lover.


Although a revamped Lolapalooza will be MIA for at least another year, this summer still features a host of interesting road shows:

Queens of the Stone Age – In between battling Courtney Love in court and fronting the Foo Fighters, ex-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl likes to relax… with some brutal, crunchy, bone-rattling stoner rock. Having produced Queens of the Stone Age’s newest album, Grohl plans to tour with them this summer behind the drum kit, an addition which promises to add just a little more octane to what is already one of the most kinetic outfits in rock today.

Elvis Costello – The word on the street is that his new album is his most gritty and propulsive since My Aim Is True. A big statement to be sure, but looking at the set-list from his NYC expo the other day, it seems that Costello has announced his intentions to return to guitar-rattling, brain-punk form, pulling out such favorites as “Watching the Detectives,” and “Oliver’s Army.” Touring a variety of large-and-mid-sized venues this summer, Costello and the Imposters will likely replicate the earnesty and magic that has made him one of rock’s most hallowed cult figures.

Warped Tour – Of all the festival tours, the Warped Tour has quietly been one of the most successful and best. This year’s lineup remains strong, featuring the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones, NOFX, Reel Big Fish, Bad Religion, No Use for A Name, the Damned and more.

From the Vaults

While you’re checking out new sounds on the web and catching shows at your favorite venues, don’t forget to catch that classic album you might have missed:

The Day the Earth Met the Rocket from the Tombs – The lost Rosetta stone of late 70s American rock, Cleveland’s Rocket from the Tombs (not to be confused with Rocket from the Crypt, who named themselves in tribute) was not just the launching pad for such luminary punk and new wave bands as Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys, but it was also the place where Dylan and the Ramones first met in grit and beauty. This recently released collection provides the only document available on CD of the group’s largely unrecorded career, including early versions of what would become Ubu’s “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo,” and Peter Laughner’s chilling “Amphetamine.”

Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers – There’s blues and then there is blues, and on his 1971 debut, the eccentric six-fingered (I’m not joking) slide guitar player Hound Dog Taylor managed to cut some the greasiest, skronkiest, most godawfully rockin’ roots music ever put to wax. A forgotten classic if there ever was one, this album is quite simply a boozy rollickin’ party in every track.

So there you go – just a few off-the-cuff suggestions for the musical season ahead. Enjoy.

Super Furry Animals rock the Paradise


An absolute thicket of gear onstage, video screens playing an endless loop of spiraling, colorful images, the constant rumble of waves and walls and wedges of sound turning the room into a giant reverb tank – it’s the type of stuff that makes critics want to start throwing around terms like “space rock” and make off-the-cuff comparisons to Kid A.

But if Monday night’s show at the Paradise Rock Club taught me anything, it is that there are very few genres that could even hope to contain the staggering phenomenon that is Wales’ Super Furry Animals. Swirling happily from balls-out rawk (replete with headbanging Sabbath members on the big screen) to the lushest of post-Lennon-sunny-day-Penny-Lane-British-Isles-on-a-postcard pop to dense, dense grinding electronica and back again, the Animals are wit, ambition, kitsch and abandon all rolled up into one.

In a set spanning their catalogue (with the exception of their Welsh-language release, Mwng), SFA counterpointed new songs like the chimey “(Drawing) Rings Around the World” with older whirlwinds like “The International Language of Screaming,” with the effect of knitting it all into one thick, heady tapestry.

Contrasted with the “Hey look, I’m not just rapping to myself in the shower anymore” antics of opener Cex (who did at least pull off two impromptu freestyles about college and mashed potatoes), one gets the impression that the average SFA gig, at least on this side of the ocean, might well be akin to stumbling across Bach in the corner at Jake Ivory’s.

What pains me now is that I’m going to have to buy all their albums, put my ear up to the speakers, and stare at a florescent light until all I can see is floaters to even begin to approximate the experience. Even then, it would be hard to replicate the last 10 minutes of the set, in which keyboardist/DJ/programmer Cian Ciaran created a beautiful din that sounded something like the Death Star stuck on spin cycle. And all through it, a video image of Arnold Schwarzenegger kept appearing on the screen uttering the words “best mindfuck yet.” I couldn’t agree more.

Director of “Bringing Down A Dictator” discusses Making of Movie, Fall of Slovodan Milosevic


Though today’s headlines are filled with stories of violence in the Middle East, many Americans may not remember that one of history’s bloodiest recent waves of violence was finally ended by students who never fired a shot. Although most Americans probably credit the fall of Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic to international military efforts, they fail to realize that Milosevic persisted in his role as dictator of Serbia after those efforts ended, and even further solidified his power.

What finally brought him down were the efforts of a student movement called Otpor, which are chronicled in the forthcoming PBS special “Bringing Down A Dictator.” The film will be screened at Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy tonight at 6:30 p.m., followed by a panel discussion with the film’s executive producer and director, as well as student leader Ivan Marovic, one of the founders of Otpor.

“It’s a story that is not well known in the United States,” said executive producer Peter Ackerman. “When you ask people why Milosevic was taken from power, people say it was because of the bombing over Kosovo. That ended in June of 1999. He did not leave power until October of 2000. The story we tell is what happened in between.”

Once Ackerman conceived the basic thesis for the project, award-winning writer/director Steve York went to Serbia to shoot. What he discovered was a student resistance movement that used humor, rock music and a bilingual web site to successfully depose one of the world’s worst dictators. The group held sidewalk birthday parties for Milosevic, with cakes carved up like the nation of Yugoslavia. They toilet papered the Electoral Commission building and plastered solid surfaces everywhere with anti-Milosevic stickers. When Milosevic’s administration cited a mosquito infestation as an excuse not to convene the legislature, Otpor activists armed with cans of insecticide stormed the building.

“[The humor] was pretty unique to them, but not unusual. It was a strike at the sense of invincibility and terror Milosevic carried among the population,” Ackerman said.

The film’s footage reflects the efficacy of the movement’s tactics. Ackerman said he is particularly proud of footage showing police refusing to fire on demonstrators and refusing to support blockades.

“This movement succeeded because it distributed its resistance throughout all of Serbia, involved every strata of population,” Ackerman said. Though he said many of Otpor’s tactics mirrored those of other groups, Ackerman said he was surprised by the students’ sophistication. “I didn’t expect the sophistication, and their ability to manage a movement that required a sequencing of behaviors over time to keep ratcheting up the pressure against Milosevic. These are very, very smart young people.”

“Bringing Down A Dictator” represents Ackerman’s second film collaboration with York, who also produced a three-hour TV series based around Ackerman’s 1994 book, “A Force More Powerful.”

“The difficulty was in the editing room,” Ackerman said. “We had to give seven years of history of what happened in Yugoslavia in a way that was both comprehensive and was also not so long-winded that people would lose interest.”

Along with his long history of scholarship on strategic non-violent conflict, Ackerman currently serves as chair of the Fletcher School’s Board of Overseers, as well as other foundations. For his next project, he said he and York are hoping to work on a CD-ROM war-game about nonviolent conflict.

“The idea is to let people who are dissidents against dictators actually play out the game in their own circumstances. Just like violent resistance has strategy and tactics, so does non-violent resistance,” he said.

Ackerman added that despite the violence plaguing the Middle East, there are places there where non-violent movements can gain a foothold.

“In Iran, we’ve already seen a variety of mass protests among students and people under 30,” he said. “There are all sorts of opportunities in Iran to put pressure on clerics. Iraq is much more problematic. But just because [Saddam Hussein] is totally brutal doesn’t mean he has full control of his own military and his own police.”

Of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Ackerman said that although he declined to take a stand on the issue, he did believe the Palestinians’ tactics were counter-productive. “At the end, the Palestinians are making a mistake trying to improve their position with suicide bombers,” Ackerman said. “They need to give traction to the moderate/left wing in Israel…. The suicide bombing has pushed the entire Israeli population to the right.”

Adversaries win Willston Contract Competition


Someday 1Ls Patrick Chung, Aman Kapadia, Jonathan Rotter and Dean John Sauer will have their names on the wall of Langdell Library. It just might not happen anytime soon.

As the winners of the 2002 Williston Contracts Competition, the four won a modest cash prize and the much more august award of immortal celebrity on a plaque in the library. However, since the BSA (who runs the competition) only updates the plaque once they have enough names to fill it up, it can take a decade or more before winners see their names in gold. Still, none of the winners said that they were in competition for the plaque.

This year, both winning teams were drawn from the same set of negotiations. In the mock contract negotiation and drafting competition, Chung and Kapadia (both JD/MBA students) represented a failing airline while Sauer and Rotter represented the flight attendants’ union.

The teams were awarded first place based on the drafting of the final agreement and the substantive outcomes that they managed to negotiate for their side. While the drafting score is the same for both teams, the two sides are theoretically trying to get the best deal for their constituency.

3L Rachel Valente, who chaired the committee that organized the event, said that it was not surprising that two teams negotiating with each other would end up walking away with the first prize. “More balanced agreements that expanded the size of the pie did better than agreements where one side got everything and the other only eked out,” she said.

“I think we were successful because we all realized that working together rather than as adversaries was the best way to proceed. We challenged each other to think of the bargain from the perspective of the other side. I think the other team understood our proposals a lot better when they thought that way, and so did we,” Kapadia told the RECORD.

Professor Roger Fisher, who spoke to all of teams before the competition, said that whether negotiators are in a competition or a civil war, they will both be more successful if they can understand the other sides’ interests.

“It’s like you can’t dance very well unless you both know how to dance. So the fact that the two sides that won the Williston Competition were negotiating opposite each other is great from my point of view, because I believe [if] negotiators learn to work together they will do much better,” he said.

While agreeing that the collaborative effort was important to their success, Rotter emphasized that it was important not to forget the interests of their client. “We were always cognizant of the interests that we represented, which were in conflict with the interests of the other team. By combining a creative approach with a firm grounding in our duty to our client, we were able to both produce an innovative and equitable document that met the needs of both parties,” he said.

While both teams said they subscribed to Fisher’s philosophy, trying to work together did not prevent there being tense moments. “By the end there were times we were just yelling at each other,” Chung said.

“We had to bicker forever before we could agree on anything,” Sauer added.

A six-day contract negotiation may not sound like a lot of fun to most people, but the two teams did manage to find some time to not talk about the airline and its union.

“We were able to wear down the opposing team at our opening meeting by refusing to talk seriously about the competition. These guys were all business before we taught them how to have fun at law school, so it just killed then,” Rotter joked.

For the winners, the competition will live on in its own way – in resumes, someday on the wall of Langdell, and in the way they understand both negotiation and flight attendants.

“These days, whenever I see a flight attendant, I think to myself: ‘I represented a flight attendants’ union in a fictional contract negotiation.’ I haven’t mentioned it to any flight attendants, probably because I feel the fictional part makes the connection seem less conversation-worthy,” Rotter said.

Race controversy explodes, BLSA makes demands of administration

The problems that began with the posting of racially offensive outlines on the HL Central outline bank by a Section IV student in early March have now grown into a widespread controversy involving a series of incidents that implicate students, professors and at least one student organization. More than a month after the outlines appeared, responses have come from the highest levels of the Law School and University administrations.

Frustration at administrative responses to the incidents prompted the submission of a series of demands by the Black Law Students’ Association (BLSA) to the administration, which appear in an open letter printed in today’s Record. BLSA’s demands include the creation of an office of multicultural affairs with a full-time staff member, as well as a direct response from Deans Clark and Rakoff to BLSA. The group also requested a public disciplining of Professors David Rosenberg and Charles Nesson, which would include reprimands printed in the Harvard Law Bulletin and the Harvard Crimson and removal of both professors from the teaching of 1L courses. BLSA also asked that incoming students, faculty and administrators be required to attend sensitivity training sessions at the start of next year.”We’d like for this school to come up with a policy of addressing these issues quickly and substantively,” said 2L BLSA member Joshua Bloodworth. “They need to come up with a racial harassment policy that lets the whole community know that they condemn these kinds of actions and they they will condemn them when they happen.”

Beyond Section IV – The Controversy Spreads

Less than one week after outlines using the term “nig” were posted to the HL Central web site by 1L Kiwi Camara, a separate controversy erupted in Rosenberg’s Section II torts class. In a class discussion, Rosenberg said that, “Feminism, Marxism and the blacks have contributed nothing to the scientific pursuit of legal discourse.” When 1L Tel Cary-Sadler asked for a clarification, Rosenberg repeated the statement two times. Cary-Sadler met with Dean Todd Rakoff and subsequently received a personal e-mail from Rosenberg that denied that his statement intended to denigrate black scholars or their work. However, in class the next day, Rosenberg offered a “clarification” that Cary-Sadler claims did not include an apology for the use of the term “the blacks.”

“The statement conflated ideology with race,” Cary-Sadler said. “I asked Rosenberg what he meant by that, since it might be interpreted as offensive, and he repeated the statement three times.” After further complaints from Section II students to the administration, Rosenberg agreed to bring in other professors to teach additional torts perspectives. The class will also be videotaped for the remainder of the semester so that students who feel “uncomfortable” attending will not be required to.

“It was clear that Rosenberg should apologize for what he said, and he agreed to do so,” Rakoff told The Record. “I wasn’t there to hear what was expressed, so I can’t judge his comments.”Rosenberg declined to comment for this story.

Section IV – The Controversy Continues

Problems did not abate in Section IV, either. On April 1, 1L F. Michelle Simpson – the student who had originally complained about Camara’s outlines – received an anonymous e-mail, later discovered by students to be sectionmate 1L Matthias Scholl, in which Scholl defended Camara’s use of the word “nig” and added that, “I have actually begun using the ‘nigger’ word more often than before the incident.”

The following day, Section IV students received anonymous fliers in their Hark boxes that read, “F– Jews” at the top beside a crudely drawn swastika. The flier repeated the text of Scholl’s e-mail, and stated at the bottom that, “I bet you they will respond to this leaflet because Jews, unlike blacks, are a politically and economically favored group at this University.”

On April 3, Professor Charles Nesson accompanied Scholl into Section IV’s criminal law class and requested five minutes for Scholl to apologize. Nesson then gave a speech in which he suggested that the class hold a mock trial in which he would serve as Scholl’s attorney.

In an interview with the Harvard Crimson, Scholl defended his use of the word, saying, “I would use the word to show people I have the right to use it, but I don’t condone it…. I’m not a racist.”

Trouble At Legal Aid

The BLSA letter also describes a lesser-known incident that occurred in the Legal Aid Bureau this March, when a Bureau member mistook a black 1L for a potential client. The letter claims that although the student and BLSA received an apology, the Bureau has “failed to institute any significant internal changes,” to help to avoid such incidents.

When contacted for comment, Legal Aid President and 2L Dan Gluck described a list of changes the organization plans to implement, including ongoing sensitivity and diversity training throughout the year, sending members to a diversity conference, considering strengthening the organization’s affirmative action program and developing a diversity task force separate from the group’s executive board. The organization also held a roundtable discussion among the entire membership where members discussed race-related issues.

“We’re working very hard to implement lasting changes,” Gluck said. “There is no quick fix – these are national problems – but we are going to do everything we possibly can to be sure the Bureau is a safe place for our clients and our members.”

2L Jasleen Kohli, who has been working on diversity issues at the Bureau since the beginning of the year, said, “Quite honestly, a few days ago, I was completely ready to drop out of the Bureau. Right now, though, I have seen a lot of people who have come to a lot of very difficult realizations about themselves.” She added that in order to adequately represent its diverse clientele, the Bureau must be sensitive to racial issues. “What keeps me going is that I am doing good for my clients.”

News of the problems in Section IV spread far beyond the Law School, spawning coverage in major national news organs including The New York Times, Boston Globe, and CNN.

As the story spread, HLS and University administrators scrambled to respond. The student body first heard from Deans Rakoff and Clark in an e-mail Monday, which read, in part: “We emphatically condemn these acts as contrary to both the spirit and the mission of the Harvard Law School.” In the message, the Deans also promised to explore, “strategies for ensuring that the conversations so badly needed can occur within a framework of respect for every member of the community.”

That response was followed by an open letter to the Law School community by University President Lawrence Summers. Summers repeated the Deans’ condemnation, calling the incidents, “deeply inimical to the values of our academic community.”BLSA members say they are not impressed.

“Dean Clark and Dean Rakoff have not done anything,” said 2L Lacey Schwartz, a BLSA member. “There are institutional issues that need addressing.” She pointed to what she called “an institutional climate of apathy and complicity in issues of racial insensitivity and harassment.”

Schwartz and Bloodworth said that BLSA is planning a media blitz that will include press releases to local and national TV stations, radio stations and newspapers, as well as mailings to alumni, politicians, civil rights leaders, donors and affinity groups at other schools.

“We’re going to reach out and really show the administration that this isn’t just a BLSA issue,” Schwartz said. “A lot of students across races, across cultures, have made it known that they are pretty outraged by what’s going on.”

In its own missive to the HLS community, the Law School Council echoed many of BLSA’s concerns, and advanced its own list of solutions that includes creating a formal discrimination policy, installing a full-time administrator to handle racial issues, making information available to students about the resources for reporting and responding to racial incidents and, most surprisingly, factoring a history of racial incidents into considerations of tenure for faculty.

Though he declined to offer specific solutions, Rakoff called for students and administrators alike to work to move forward. “This is an issue on which the administration must work, but calls for constructive efforts must go to the entire Law School community,” he said. Rakoff added that the problem is felt not only at HLS, but nationally. “The history of race relations is a curse that this country is still feeling – problems of how people get along are present everywhere,” he said. “But then, this country is also the first to deal with a tremendous number of different cultures and races living together. It is both one of our greatest strengths and one of our greatest weaknesses.”

Auction promises festivities, fundraising


Tonight, you can make the 2002 Class Marshals spend a day in your service or have an HLS professor take notes in one of your classes. You can buy guitar lessons, a weekend in Alaska or a night of clubbing with Prof. Brewer. Or, simply watch your classmates bid recklessly indulgent amounts of money on luxuries they wouldn’t dream of buying somewhere else. This is the 2002 OPIA Auction, after all. Everything – even buying an oh-so-unnecessary foot massage – happens for a good cause.

Over the past nine years, the Auction has raised more than $500,000 to fund student summer public interest work. More than $120,000 was raised last year alone. This year promises a similar windfall.

Though relatively new at HLS, the Auction has already become a tradition, with broad student attendance (more than 600 are expected this year), humorous live auction “themes” (audience members will be asked to figure out a mystery using clues given during the auction) and a good bit of partying. There will be an open beer-and-wine bar (donated, of course), as well as a live band to keep things lively.

“We have over 500 items, which is pretty similar to last year,” said 1L James Gignac, one of the Auction’s four co-chairs. “In terms of volunteers, initially we had like 280, which is a lot more than last year because so many more people were wanting to do public interest this year.”

One-Ls must volunteer a minimum of six hours to the auction to receive summer funding; many have given more.

As the Auction has grown, so has its reputation, with increasingly bizarre items donated by an ever-widening cast of students, faculty, parents and corporations. Although a majority of items are sold in the silent auction, which begins at 5:30 p.m. in Austin, the main event is the live auction in Ames Courtroom at 7:30 p.m., where Profs. Kagan and Barron will auction off the most unusual and highest-ticket items.

In the past, some items have sold for astronomical sums. Yearly classics like Prof. Kagan’s poker game and Prof. Warren’s “Champagne and Compliments” have netted thousands of dollars. Last year, Kagan agreed to hold two poker games after two different groups bid $1,900 for the privilege at the live auction.

“I’ve been surprised how easygoing and sociable the professors have been,” said 1L Mike Wernke, the auction co-chair responsible for submissions from students, parents, staff and faculty. “It’s refreshing.”

Wernke added that he was also impressed by parent participation this year – one family even donated an acupuncture session.

The list of hot-ticket items extends far beyond dinners with professors. Students can bid on sports memorabilia signed by the likes of Mickey Mantle and Michael Jordan, fancy dinners at Boston and Cambridge’s finest restaurants, rides to the airport and a signed “West Wing” script. Fame-seekers will be thrilled by a walk-on role in next year’s Parody, or the opportunity to be on a mock cover of the HLS Bulletin. And whether it’s learning how to make homemade fortune cookies, or having real Southern barbecue shipped straight from Alabama, the Auction has food that will interest everyone.

But the auction is about more than simply bidding.

“The Auction serves two purposes,” said Gignac. “One is to raise money, but it’s just a portion of [the total funding] the Law School provides. The other purpose is to be a celebration of public interest – to build community.”

Gignac stressed that students should be sure to attend the silent auction, where most items are sold. Unlike the live auction, no public competition takes place – students write their bids on sheets of paper and put them in boxes for each item. The highest bid submitted for each donation wins.

“If you really want something, you have to bid high,” Gignac said.

But organizers’ most potent Auction message is simple: It’s supposed to be fun. “Of course, it’s for a good cause,” said Wernke. “But aside from that, it’s going to be a lot of fun. Even if this wasn’t being held as a Law School event, it’d still be a fun thing to go to.”

Dershowitz expolres Terrorism and Arafat


In a lecture Tuesday on the roots of terrorism, Professor Alan Dershowitz argued that terrorism stems not from desperation or dispossession but from the simple fact that it works.

Tracing the history of modern terrorism and the world’s response to it, with particular focus on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Professor Dershowitz made the case that “global terror is a problem of our own making” due to America’s historical practice of rewarding its perpetrators.

In the speech, entitled “Struggle Against Terrorism: From New York to Jerusalem,” Dershowitz argued that the tragic events of September 11 were a “function of the success of terrorism,” especially as employed by Yasser Arafat in his campaign against Israel. Commending the U.S. campaign against al Qaeda and the Taliban as the first serious effort by a major world power to make terrorists pay for their crimes, Dershowitz argued that Israel should be given the same freedom to act against the Palestinian Authority and other organizations that harbor or support terrorists.

Speaking to a packed audience of students, visitors, and police officers in Austin West, Dershowitz noted that Palestinian terrorism began in 1968 with the hijacking of a jetliner, and subsequently escalated to blowing up the airplanes. At the Munich Olympics in 1972, Palestinian terrorists murdered 11 Israeli players and coaches, under direct orders from Arafat. According to Dershowitz, these atrocities were brutally effective in their goal of placing the Palestinian cause into the world’s consciousness.

Dershowitz argued that Arafat’s terrorism was rewarded by the world community. Shortly after one hijacking, he noted that the United Nations gave the Palestinians observer status. After Arafat ordered the murder of the American Ambassador to Sudan – the highest ranking African-American in the U.S. diplomatic corps – Arafat was welcomed to the U.N for a speech to the General Assembly. After four synagogues were attacked, Dershowitz said, the Pope welcomed Arafat to the Vatican.

Dershowitz went on to note that the world pays little heed to the national aspirations of the Kurds and Armenians, who he claimed have greater claims to statehood and have undergone greater suffering than the Palestinians, but who choose not to engage in terrorism. Arguing that Palestinians waged terrorism against Israelis even between 1948 and 1967, when Israel was not occupying the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Dershowitz insisted that the Palestinians’ real goal was not simply a state of their own but an end to any Jewish presence in Palestine.

Claiming that Arafat is a man who “can’t take ‘yes’ for an answer,” Dershowitz noted that the Palestinian leader passed up repeated opportunities to win statehood on reasonable terms, up to and including the proposals made by President Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David and Taba in 2000. When Arafat discovered that even European sentiment was turning against him, Dershowitz said he decided to “play the terrorism card.”

Dershowitz went on to argue that Arafat made the brutal calculation that every death benefited his cause: If an Israeli dies, it increases the cost of occupation, and if a Palestinian dies, it generates world sympathy. Rejecting the contention that Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount “provoked” the second intifada, Dershowitz said he believes that it was a planned operation waiting for an excuse to begin.

Noting a recent poll that found that 87 percent of Palestinians supported the use of suicide bombers against Israeli civilians, Dershowitz argued that collective punishment is justified when a vast majority of the population is complicit in the criminal activity. He concluded that the only way to prevent future attacks like the ones in New York and Israel is to stop rewarding the perpetrators of terrorism, whomever they target, and start punishing them.



Call To Conscience: An Open Letter to Dean Clark and Dean Rakoff

Belief in the ideals of Harvard Law School – the power of rules, reason, persuasion, diversity, and equity – has endowed BLSA with patience during these recent and previous eruptions of anti-Black harassment. However, in the face of your administration’s inadequate response to these events and this systemic problem in the HLS community, BLSA has lost its patience. We now express our frustration with your indifference to the needs of Black law students in crisis. Both of you have communicated with the Law School and the media by press release, but have not once reached out to BLSA directly. Racial harassment is not a matter of damage control or public relations, but a call for leadership. It is the duty of this administration to set a responsible institutional tone of civility, decency, and respect for minorities. No more racial harassment. No more intimidation.

We also write to preserve a record of these incidents and the administration’s willful inaction.

Individual students have met with Dean of Students Richardson on several occasions to discuss this crisis. She is genuine, concerned, and perhaps a friend to BLSA. However, we fear that you, as the ultimate leadership of the Law School, have been fugitives in this crisis, exploiting Richardson as a gatekeeper for the concerns of disconcerted Black students. BLSA students have grown tired of waiting at the gate. Enough of the hypocrisy, public contrition, and private insensitivity. It is time for you to speak directly to the Black community at HLS.

BLSA demands that you fulfill the responsibilities of your offices and take meaningful action with respect to the following disturbing incidents of racial harassment.

  • March 7: In an outline posted on HL Central, a 1L described Shelley v. Kraemer, which helped end restrictive racial covenants, as follows: “Nigs buy land w/ no nig covenant; Q: Enforceable?” The student attached the disclaimer: “offensive racial shorthand is used.” After a Black 1L complained, the administration confronted the author of the outline, who claimed that he was unaware that the material was offensive. Black students who complained about the outline received angry, intimidating emails from other students. One email from a user named “gcrocodile” read:

    We are at the Harvard Law School, a free, private community where any member wishing to use the word “nigger” in any form should not be prevented from doing so…. Shame on you! You have done a great disservice both to HLS and to the African-American community. If you, as a race, want to prove that you do not deserve to be called by that word, work hard and you will be recognized…. as a result of your complaint I have actually began [sic] using the “nigger” word more often than before the incident.

  • March 13: Professor David Rosenberg told his torts class: “Feminism, Marxism, and the Blacks” have contributed nothing to torts, and (to him) torts is the world. Noting that Rosenberg mentioned two ideologies and a race as contributing nothing to the world, a Black 1L asked him to clarify his point. Rosenberg repeated the statement twice to the class. Rosenberg has never apologized.

  • March 13: A Black 1L entered the Legal Aid Bureau to request a membership application. A Bureau member, mistaking her for a client, proclaimed: “This is not how we work here! This is not the process if you need legal aid!” An accompanying friend explained that the Black 1L was a student seeking an application, but the Bureau member stormed off. Humiliated, the 1L left the building. The Bureau sent apologies to BLSA members and the individual student. Nevertheless, members of Legal Aid claim that the Bureau has failed to institute any significant internal changes. Several Bureau members, including students of color, intend to quit in frustration.

  • April 2: Someone deposited copies of a flyer containing hate speech in Section 4 Hark boxes. In an email to his entire section, a student publicly claimed that Black students should be considered prime suspects. He volunteered his fingerprints to the Harvard Police and asked that “any students in our section, AS WELL AS THE BLSA MEMBERS, interested in clearing themselves … should do the same” (emphasis in original email).

  • April 3: When concerned students uncovered gcrocodile’s identity as a fellow Section 4 student, Professor Charles Nesson announced, in another professor’s class, that he would represent the student in a mock trial to be held during his Torts class. Students responded with outrage that a professor would choose to take sides, even if only in the interest of the “adversarial process,” and make a public spectacle of such a sensitive issue. The administration has taken no action with regards to Nesson’s conduct. (Last semester, Nesson cast a student version of “The West Wing at Harvard Law School” in his Evidence class, a parody of the NBC drama. Nesson suggested having a white student play Dean Clark in Blackface, as a joke. “Bob Clark,” he wrote in an email to the class, “is miscast as Bartlett. Ogletree plays Bartlett, Bob plays Charley in Blackface. Now that’s getting to be parody.”)

This is not a free speech issue. Racial harassment has everything to do with basic human decency and little to do with free speech or feel-good political correctness. BLSA supports free speech. Indeed, we are now making use of it.

Several progressive professors and students of all races have expressed outrage at these incidents and the administration’s apathy. This is to the credit of the Harvard Law School community. Unfortunately, it does not appear that the administration shares this moral outrage to the extent that meaningful action, and not just public statements, is warranted.

BLSA therefore finds it necessary to inform alumni, media, donors, incoming students, politicians, and members of the Civil Rights Movement of these shocking incidents at Harvard Law School. BLSA believes that only grass-roots pressure and national public scrutiny – if not embarrassment – will make this administration accountable to its Black students.

We demand that Dean Clark and Dean Rakoff do the following:

1. Address BLSA, in person, about these issues.

2. Allow BLSA representatives to present our demands, in person, at the faculty meeting on May 8, 2002.

3. Institute a policy, applying to both students and professors, banning racial harassment analogous to the School’s sexual harassment policy.

4. Create an Office of Multicultural Aff-airs, with a full-time staff person, solely dedicated to dealing with issues of racial harassment and providing diversity training.

5. Form a committee that includes BLSA and other affinity group representatives, faculty, a diversity consultant, trained negotiators, and Deans Clark and Rakoff to devise a plan for the creation of this office.

6. Prevent Professors Nesson and Ros-enberg from teaching first-year classes and publicly reprimand them in the Harvard Law Bulletin and Harvard Crimson.

7. Take appropriate administrative act-ion against the authors of the offensive outline and the flyer containing hate speech.

8. Require professors, Deans, and incoming students to attend training addressing tolerance in the classroom and academic debate without racial insensitivity.

9. Require Legal Aid to publicize their strategy for remedying their diversity problems and for respectful treatment of their clients of color.

-The membership of the Black Law Students’ Association

Narrow debate worse than no debate at all

In a March 20, 2002 meeting, Justice for Palestine considered Professor Dershowitz’s invitation to debate the merits of the proposal he laid out in his Jerusalem Post article, which prompted JFP to protest outside Dershowitz’s class. At that meeting, the group reached a consensus that such a debate would be both misguided and un

We believe that a debate regarding the merits of destroying entire Palestinian villages frames the question in a narrow and dehumanizing way. The question would be too narrow because it does not address larger issues of Israeli occupation and Palestinian dispossession. The question would be dehumanizing because the very act of questioning whether entire villages should be destroyed starts, we believe, from a premise that Palestinian life is less important than other lives. We believe that it is unthinkable for a Harvard Law professor to call for the destruction of Irish, Basque, Philippine or Kurdish villages. That a debate regarding the destruction of Palestinian villages is suggested indicates that Palestin-ians, once again, are not afforded the same dignity as other humans.

We understand that Prof. Dershowitz believes that there is more to his proposal than a call for the destruction of villages; however, it is undeniable that the driving force behind his proposal, and the reason for our protests, is the unethical call for the destruction of villages. (We do offer to individually discuss the matter with Prof. Dershowitz or any other interested party.)

We decided not to debate Dershowitz’s proposal in large part because affording a public forum for his extremist proposal would lend it a legitimacy it does not deserve. It saddens and shocks us that, only days after this decision, the present government in Israel is following an equally destructive course of action.

Najeeb KhouryPresident, Justice for Palestineand the membership of Justice for Palestine

The Tribulations of Taxation


This weekend, I took part in that most aggravating of annual rituals and filled out my 1040 form. The experience brought to mind my favorite conservative pipe dream (aside from the naughty ones), the one where tax day comes right before election day. One year of that would guarantee us a streamlined system of calculating taxes, a minimal amount of paperwork and a lot more of our income left in our pockets.

But alas, I am stuck with our current system. The worst thing about it is that I’m supposed to be grateful for a refund. While a refund is certainly better than the government keeping my money, I’d be a whole lot happier if they hadn’t taken it to begin with and spared me their accursed forms.

I admire the efforts of the President and Congress to give us a portion of our money back. But if they don’t need it, why do they take it to begin with? It’s not their money to be distributed at their convenience; it’s our money that they should take only when necessary.

I’m not going to argue that all taxation is theft and therefore we ought to run off to our bunkers and declare the sovereign state of New Freeland; taxes are a necessary evil, and the good that comes from paying them is sometimes worthwhile. Without taxes, we wouldn’t have policemen to violate the Fourth Amendment rights of criminals, and then I’d have nobody to root for in criminal law. In addition, we would lack a military, an efficient infrastructure, national parks and other services essential to America’s well-being.

The thing about necessary evils is that they’re only supposed to be tolerated so far as they are necessary. We need not look at the necessity of supporting essential government functions and jump to the conclusion that Rawls was right and disparities in wealth should exist only so far as the government allows them to exist for social utility.

Each working person puts in hard hours to earn his or her paycheck. Every cent the government takes it obtains by virtue of its monopoly on violence – its ability to summon force against an individual citizen to compel payment. Each time this happens, each time the government tells a working person that the fruits of her labor do not belong to her, the government demeans her labor and by implication her time and her abilities, the very essence of her personhood. This sort of activity should obviously be limited as strictly as possible.

This being Harvard Law School, I expect at least a thousand students will rise to the defense of our Federal government and the high taxes required to fund all those great programs (except of course the Department of Defense, the CIA and the criminal division of the Department of Justice). Or maybe taxes are just our most straightforward method of redistribution, and any reduction in them reinforces the power of the evil straight white patriarchy that delights in the misery of others. In either case, these students believe we must fight hard to ensure we are taxed enough.

Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, responding to such concerns, created a discretionary tax for those who wanted to pay more. None of us should be surprised that the fund’s income to date is barely enough to fund a decent night on the town. Apparently the high-tax types in Arkansas are all hat, no cattle. Their concern is less with how they live their lives and more with how they want to force others to live.

I wonder how HLS students would react if they were given a similar option. I doubt they’d put their money where their mouths are. By this time next year, I expect almost all of the big government lefties will be looking for every deduction they can take from their fat corporate salaries – and if that’s what they do, good for them. It’s their money and they should keep what they can to do with as they choose.

Any justification for our current tax regime hinges on the idea that somehow the government’s right to your money supercedes your own. This is not an abstract point of political philosophy; the current conceptual framework we let our government get away with impacts you every hour you work and every dollar you earn. Consider carefully how you want the government to treat you and your earnings, and remember April 15 when November rolls around again.

When should three strikes put you out?


Leandro Andrade was spotted stuffing his pants with “Snow White,” “Cinderella” and a few other videos at a local Kmart. He later found himself locked up for 50 years to life.

Gary Ewing managed to slide three golf clubs down his pants and was caught leaving a store with a mysterious new limp. He was sentenced for 25 years to life.

The source of these incongruous punishments is California’s “three strikes” law, a rule that was challenged by a recent Ninth Circuit decision and is slated to be reviewed by the Supreme Court. “Three strikes, you’re out” was the result of a 1994 referendum organized by a seething California electorate hungry for tougher sentencing of recidivist criminals. After the brutal 1993 murder of young Polly Klaas by a repeat-offender on parole, the state enacted Proposition 184, which hands down an automatic 25 year to life sentence for a third felony conviction. The Federal government and 24 other states have similar laws.

The problem with such laws lies in the severity of the punishment relative to the gravity of the third strike that triggers it. While it may be appropriate to mandate tougher punishments for repeat serious and violent offenders, only in California can a person be locked up for life for a petty theft of children’s movies. I believe in tough crime laws for my home state, but “three strikes” has gone too far.

Fifty-seven percent of the 7,000 inmates currently in California jails under this rule committed a nonviolent felony as their third strike. Many of these offenders have been sentenced to multiple consecutive terms of 25 years to life. Six-hundred-forty-four of these last-straw violations involved drug possession. Worse, 340 of these prisoners have been incarcerated for up to life on third-strike convictions for petty theft. This is because California’s law incorporates more than just violent crimes. Its harshness is also due to a peculiar state law that raises misdemeanors to felonies for people with previous property convictions. Thus, somebody like Ewing could spend an inordinate length of time in jail for what would otherwise have been treated as a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of one year. In essence, he is being punished twice for previous acts – a policy that is supposed to be unconstitutional. Suffering from AIDS and not eligible for parole until 2025 at the age of 63, Ewing looks to be the non-violent victim of a poorly executed effort to reduce violent crime levels. I sincerely doubt that voters supporting Proposition 184 intended such outcomes.

Beyond arguments of equity, there are logical problems with California’s law. Andrade’s third strike, for example, only counted as such because of two earlier burglary convictions that forced his third crime, a misdemeanor, to be counted as a felony. If those two previous convictions were for violent non-property crimes, he would have been spared the iron fist of three strikes. Secondly, Andrade would have avoided the penalty had he committed the video theft first and the burglaries later, since his video theft would not have been boosted to a felony.

An additional effect of the rule has been to incarcerate a much older population of offenders, since they tend to have a longer criminal histories. The cost to incarcerate one such inmate for up for 25 years is approximately half a million dollars. These offenders are usually past the pinnacle of their criminal careers, yet they are left to waste away on the public’s dime while helping to jam jails even more tightly. Comparing the $500,000 cost of incarceration to the $153.54 worth of kid’s flicks that Andrade stole, it is clear that the state can use the money for more constructive purposes.

It is hard to guess what the Supreme Court’s final decision will be. The Court has a history of rebuffing the Ninth Circuit whenever given the chance, but Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Scalia have said before that they fail to see a requirement in the Eighth Amendment to seek proportion between the crime committed and the punishment applied. Among the more liberal justices, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Stevens have indicated before that the three strikes rule could “raise serious Constitutional issues.” It seems that, yet again, this will come down to the middle-of-the-roaders: Justices Kennedy and O’Connor.

The impact of the Court’s decision could be far-reaching. The immediate question is whether the Ninth Circuit was correct in finding that Ewing and Andrade were subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. That ruling will only be based on the particular extent of California’s three strikes law and not that of other states. The argument for three strikes generally is deterrence – that there has been a significant decrease in violent crimes since their enactment.

Thus, anti-crime advocates might be comforted to know that upholding the Ninth Circuit might not invalidate the entire policy, but only smooth the rough edges. Whatever deterrent effects the policy has would still be felt – repeat violent and serious offenders would still be subject to long prison terms. The original spirit of the law would thus be maintained while casting the net less broadly. Yet affirming will mean that people who shoplift and possess drugs will not be thrown behind bars unfairly for decades too long. Sixty-five percent of Californians were recently found to be in favor of amending the policy, so let us hope their wishes are met again.

Unsolicited Opinions Column


Please consider the following opinion column (650 words) for publication. Thank you. Jacob Appel, Class of 2003.

STEM CELL RESEARCH UPROOTED Fifteen months have elapsed since President Bush called a halt to federal funding for research on new lines of pluripotent stem cells. That decision, which placed him squarely at odds with the majority of Americans and many of the most respected leaders in his own party, rested upon a highly misguided approach to the ethical questions involved. Subsequent developments in the availability of pre-existing stem cell lines have revealed that his decision rested upon several highly flawed factual assumptions as well. At the times of the President’s decision, an ABCNEWS/Beliefnet poll revealed that Americans supported federal funding for stem cell research by a margin of more than two-to-one. Supporters included not only traditional liberal constituencies, but also a majority of Roman Catholics and Evangelical White Protestants. Some of the nation’s staunchest opponents of abortion are among the strongest supporters of such research, including Senators Orinn Hatch of Utah, Trent Lott of Mississippi, Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, Gordon Smith of Oregon, former Senator Connie Mack of Florida, former President Gerald Ford and former First Lady Nancy Reagan. These prominent conservatives have joined the growing chorus of leading scientists who believe that research on pluripotent stem cells may hold the clues to curing such scourges as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and leukemia, and may help victims of spinal cord injuries to walk again. They also understand that these breakthroughs–if the appropriate research is properly funded–may be only a few years away. But most importantly they recognize that stem cell research has nothing at all to do with the destruction of human life: Small cell clusters produced in petri dishes are not human being and they are not even potential human beings; unless they are implanted in the wombs of women–and surely no one suggests conscripting women in which to implant them–they will remain small cells clusters indefinitely. The President justified his halt to federal funding on the grounds that many lines of pluripotent stem cells already existed and that these would be available to researchers. Yet of the sixty-four lines cited by the Bush Administration in August of 2001, fewer than ten are now available to the scientific community. Roger Pederson, a leading California-based investigator who has since taken his laboratory to England, points out that these lines were cultivated with mouse cells and are all but ineligible for transplantation to humans. In addition, even if these lines were all made widely available, even if all the challenges of keeping the fragile cells alive were surmounted and all the patent battles resolves in favor of expanded access, most researchers currently believe these sixty-four lines will not come close to satisfying the needs of medical science. In short, the President made his decision upon one set of facts. Since it now appears those facts have turned out to be inaccurate, it would appear prudent to reexamine that decision. Unfortunately, what should be a rather straightforward scientific matter has been clouded by a small group of vocal extremists. While we should certainly allow these individuals the right to wallow in their superstition and ignorance–much as in a free country we permit people to advocate a geocentric model of the universe and a flat earth–we should not let them impose either their scientific illiteracy or their moral bankruptcy upon the rest of us. Nor should we allow our president to succumb to their political pressure. This is especially the case when the cost in human lives and human suffering will be so painful. It is highly likely that the incoming United States Congress will vote on a measure to renew federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. You can substantially increase the chance of its passage by taking a moment to write to your senators and your member of congress to urge them to take a passionate and public stand in favor of this life-saving research. The life you save may be your own or that of someone you love.

A Player Grows Up


Most people who go see the talky, acerbically amusing and decidedly amoral Roger Dodger will recognize a male type they’ve come across before. In fact, not one type but three. There’s the fast-talking know-it-all who’s just clever and self-aware enough to stay one step up from the used car lot. The would-be player who’s not nearly as smooth an operator as he thinks he is. And finally, the rejected lover whose obsession with his ex borders on the psychotic. It’s no mean feat that Campbell Scott, veteran of indie fare like The Spanish Prisoner, manages to unite these distinctly unattractive types in a single character — and render the combination weirdly engaging.

Written and directed by newcomer Dylan Kidd, Roger Dodger is a comedy, but one with unexpectedly dark overtones. It rides the fine line between urbane satire and sordid realism, the latter accentuated by the poor lighting, the jerky, hand-held camera work and the unflattering glimpses it offers of the seamier side of New York. Yet Roger remains essentially opaque, perhaps deliberately so, and the movie mirrors its central figure. In the end, the film — like Roger himself — rejects any kind of in-depth analysis. The dialogue, which bristles with intelligence and ironic wit, is a constant reminder that we are not to take Roger too seriously, but to accept him on his own terms.

The plot is simple: Roger, who works in advertising and likes to spout a cheerfully cynical view of humankind and the relation between the sexes in particular with the fluent flippancy of a modern-day Oscar Wilde, is having an affair with his boss (a hard-edged Isabella Rossellini). She dumps him, and Roger can’t believe it. His response is to hit the bars, where he doesn’t so much try to pick up women as revenge his own humiliation by psychoanalyzing them to their faces and offending them as deeply as possible. He succeeds at the latter, scoring laughs from the audience, if not his prey.

It is at this propitious moment that his teenaged nephew Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) turns up, ostensibly to visit Columbia for an interview, but really to get tips from his uncle about picking up chicks: Nick has heard from his mother that his uncle is something of a “ladies’ man.” Roger agrees to take the boy out on the town and educate him in the art of seduction. However, because his view of women is obviously more warped than usual, he plays Mephistopheles rather than Don Juan to the unsuspecting Nick; one of the most pointedly allegorical sequences involves Nick and Roger descending underground, and ends with them rolling around literally in the garbage. Indeed, it becomes obvious fairly early on that bitter Roger is trying to get his kicks out of destroying his nephew’s naive conceptions of love and women — even though the only women with whom they have any significant contact (played by Jennifer Beals and Elizabeth Berkeley of Flashdance and Showgirls fame, respectively) are predictably charmed and touched by Nick’s wide-eyed innocence, and turned off by Roger’s sardonic misogynism.

Not to worry: Most of this film is funny, not serious, and Nick comes up dewy fresh as a rose, presenting an effective foil to the dissipated, over-seasoned alcoholic Roger. In fact, what connects nephew and uncle is less their differences in experience than their common immaturity. Roger is no more than the boy who refuses to grow up: At his lowest point, he scrawls insults on a bathroom mirror that are as childish as they are offensive. There are signs, too, that Roger could stand for some psychoanalysis himself: Hints of a troubled relationship with his father suggest, but only suggest, a partial explanation for his particular case of arrested development. Because of that, he can be all the more dangerous, especially during the disturbing moment when he leaves Nick to take advantage of a woman nearly passed out from drunkenness (“Always look for the women who are two drinks ahead of everyone else,” he says), so he himself can go confront his ex-lover.

The film retreats a little from the uglier side of Roger’s character, allowing him a certain measure of moral redemption at the end. But not too much. The ending strikes just the right note — the Roger we see at the end is not so much a reformed Roger as Roger on a good day rather than a bad one — and ends at just the right moment, with Nick as the final arbiter of his destiny as ladies’ man. He may have learned something from his one-night odyssey with Uncle Roger, but what that is, only he knows.

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Divestment Panel Reveals Rifts


Professor Alan Dershowitz, who was not at the debate, is one of the most outspoken opponents to divestment.

The debate over whether Harvard should divest itself of stock issued by companies doing business with Israel took a heated turn two weeks ago when five Harvard-MIT panelists spoke at the Law School about why they signed a growing divestment petition.

The panelists included Lamont Professor of Divinity and Winthrop House Master Paul D. Hanson, Professor of Psychology Elizabeth Spelke, Pierce Professor of Psychology Ken Nakayama, and Professors Molly Potter and Nancy Kanwisher from the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department at MIT.

Speaking to an overflowing and rowdy crowd of students and faculty, the panelists raised issues about Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the need for the United States to take a neutral position in the Middle East, as well defending themselves against charges of being anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. Each panelist said the Israeli occupation of the West Bank was the primary contentious issue that must be resolved if Israel wants to protect its citizens. They further argued that signing the divestment petition was concrete action Harvard could take to help end the cycle of violence that began over two years ago with the Palestinian uprising.

The tension in the room was only partially evident during the speeches, as those who held differing opinions were usually deferential to whomever was speaking. Sometimes, however, a particular comment would evoke jeers from many in the crowd, as was the case when a panelist linked her signing of the divestment petition to Christian resistance during the Nazi era.

When it came time to field questions, however, it was evident that many in the crowd were not convinced by the panelists’ arguments. Though Prof. Duncan Kennedy was the moderator, several students used the occasion to make brief speeches on why the divestment petition was either necessary in order to stop the violence, or why it represented an unfair characterization of Israel’s actions against the Palestinians. Several asked why Prof. Hanson declined to debate Prof. Alan Dershowitz in Winthrop House recently, leaving Dershowitz to speak with Winthrop students by himself. One crowd member in particular asked what credentials the panelists held that gave them the authority to solve a geo-political issue as contentious as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Most members of the audience thanked the panelists for defending their position and for bringing these issues to the forefront of the debate. Others applauded their bravery in facing an overwhelmingly anti-divestment crowd while remaining true to the principles that led them to sign the divestment petition.

Outside the debate, a group of students gathered to protest the event. Harpaul Alberto Kahli, a senior at Harvard College said, “The divestment petition is one of the most inflammatory petitions ever to come out of Harvard. It is just very divisive.”

Another student who was holding a “Divest from P.A. Terror” sign commented, “When I heard about the debate hosting only professors who signed the petition, it seemed kind of unfair. We came here to show that it is not a black and white issue, but is many shades of grey.”