First, the video. Then, if you’re good, I’ll tell you an Alan Dershowitz story. It involves Stephen Jay Gould.


So, when I was a graduate student teaching human behavioral biology and stuff, there was a class taught by Alan Dershowitz, Stephen Jay Gould, and some other guy. This was a large Socratic “lecture-courses” and one of the sessions involved ethics and gender differences in the law, so it was customary among the E. O. Wilson and Irv DeVore Teaching Fellows to crash the class and watch.

Imma let you get back to worshiping Stephen Jay Gould and all when I’m done, but I gotta tell you that he was more often in a crappy mood than a good one, and he was almost always rude, and his rudeness was the sort that arises from his highly elevated stature and is sharpened in the academic context. He was at his worse at major conferences or large classes like this, while in one on one conversations he was only half-asshat and sometimes sort of nice, but always annoyed. So as the class progressed, the moment came when a lot of students who had double booked their schedules would have to get up and leave to get to their next class, 30 minutes prior to the end of the 90 minute affair. As they started to rustle around, Gould stopped the action and firmly announced that any student who left before the end of the class would not be welcome back, and so on and so forth. And, as he berated the Harvard students, they rose to their feet, one by one or in small groups, and left the lecture hall, utterly ignoring the increasingly agitated ultra famous professor who by this time was letting steam out of his ears.

Eventually all the student left who were going to leave, about thirty, and Gould finished his rant with some comment about how utterly rude it was to leave a class before it was finished.

The next thing to happen was Alan Dershowitz engaging in the final segment of a Socratic dialog with a handful of brave students, in which the issue of whether or not there was a difference between a woman with very bad PMS killing her husband (who was kind of asking for it anyway) and a man with sexual dysfunction killing a prostitute he had hired to cure him but who ended up laughing at him. These were real cases and they were discussing the merits of the defense in each instance, and so on and so forth.

Then, about 15 minutes before the scheduled end of the class, Dershowitz uttered a series of summary sentences as he walked to the back of the lecture hall’s stage, behind a large demonstration table (these was a science lecture hall), and as he spoke reached down and picked up a piece of luggage. He continued his final remark as he walked towards the exit, stopped and turned to Gould and said, “I’ve got a client in New York who does not like to be kept waiting” and walked out.

The room fell silent.

Gould glared.

Laughter emerged, and the tittering never did really stop until the class ended at its appointed time.

Of course, if you know your recent American History well, you may guess as to who the client was. Let’s just say that for Gould, Dershowitz’s premature departure was something of a Reversal of Fortune.

I can’t find the discussion of Wikileaks on Youtube. That would be interesting.

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Comments

  1. #1 Joel
    December 17, 2010

    Hilarious. Huckabee’s evangelical education doesn’t quite measure up to a real education.

  2. #2 Ewan Duffy
    December 17, 2010

    It reminds me of the talks that ended up with the Northern Ireland peace process. They were held up for ages because one side insisted on “clarification” – not amendment, which could not be countenanced, just “clarification”!

  3. #3 MadScientist
    December 17, 2010

    Huckabee is a fucking liar and a moron. I hope he’s given up on wanting to be president.

  4. #4 surprises aplenty
    December 17, 2010

    I think I just watched Dershowitz embarrass Huckabee but the dubbing seemed off. I couldn’t always match what I heard from who’s mouth was moving. This would be a better one to listen to than watch.

  5. #5 Elizabeth
    December 17, 2010

    I love that Dersh/Gould story. Every time I hear it.

  6. #6 Matt Bowman
    December 17, 2010

    Woooooo! That was great! Huckabee got schooled. Dershowitz really knows his stuff. He was rattling off the facts. I loved how Huckabee’s demeanor changed. He tried to chuckle it off and he did pretty well, but as Dershowitz pounded away that smile faded and you could see the irritation building. Man I loved that!

  7. #7 billnut
    December 17, 2010

    MadScientist, I actually think Hucks is a sincere moron, which only make his presidential aspirations more frightening.

  8. #8 P Smith
    December 18, 2010

    Dershowitz? The cun+ who blocked Norman Finkelstein from obtaining tenure at DePaul University because Finkelstein deals in historical facts about Israel’s 20th century “foundation”?

    Dershowitz is the prototypical ambulance chaser, and will cry “Nazi!” at anyone who dares use facts to criticize Israel.

  9. #9 anonyMouse
    December 18, 2010

    That would be the famous Egos About Egos (officially Thinking About Thinking) course, yes? The one in which Gould’s place was taken by Marc Hauser, lately another “well-known client” of Dershowitz?

  10. #10 Equisetum
    December 18, 2010

    “Woooooo! That was great! Huckabee got schooled.”

    Yes, but true to his fundagelical roots, he didn’t notice.

  11. #11 Greg Laden
    December 18, 2010

    That would be the famous Egos About Egos (officially Thinking About Thinking)

    In those days, it was officially something rather dry and we called it “talking about thinking about thinking” as I recall (vaguely). But yes.

  12. #12 Virgil Samms
    December 18, 2010

    Huckabee seems to be following in the tradition of other Fox commentators, and is not a good host or good interviewer. You should let the guest say what he wants to say, you don’t constantly interrupt him and talk over him. Letting him say his piece does not mean that you have to agree with all of it. A really good interviewer can let the listener know that he does not agree, even while letting the guest say what he wants to say (if you’re wondering, I consider Tavis Smiley to be an excellent example of this).
    Huckabee is also following in the conservative tradition of never admitting to failure. Moving the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday is an “interpretation” rather than an amendment? Oh Pullease! You’re playing word games.

  13. #13 Charles Boot
    February 23, 2014

    “Some other guy” = Prof. Harvey Cox, Hollis Research Professor of Divinity at the Harvard Divinity School until he retire in 2009.

  14. #14 charles boot
    February 23, 2014

    Oh, my bad. Cox was the “some other guy” when i was shopped the course in 2000. Before 2000, that “some other guy” was philosophy prof Robert Nozick.