LETTERS: 1.29.13

Don’t make light of King’s dream

There is nothing comic about Spencer Katz’s “Science Hill” strip from Jan. 23 (“Science Hill,” Jan. 23), in which he mocks Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. MLK is shown saying, “I had a dream. … I tried to write it down when I woke up, but when I read it back it didn’t make sense.” I am shocked that Katz chose to write it, and that the Yale Daily News chose to publish it.

This does not boil down, in my opinion, to a nitpicky assessment of political correctness; I am not writing this letter to draw a bright and arbitrary line about what kinds of things can and cannot be made into the butt of a joke. Many commentators these days make a living out of ridiculing public figures, but Katz goes far beyond mere disrespect for an individual. He suggests that the fight for equality is something that might simply slip your mind: that you might wake up in the morning, and realize “justice for all” is a petty concern, after all.

It is a shameful fact of our history that for so many decades so many Americans did just that: They woke up each day, and let the reality of injustice drift out of their consciousness. The civil rights movement was not a passing whim for Martin Luther King Jr. and those courageous enough to stand beside him. It was not something they could forget, because they were cruelly reminded of the need for justice every waking minute of their lives.

I hope Katz and others take time to revisit Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, because “when [they] read it back,” I think they will discover it made more than just “sense.” It made history.

Clare Sestanovich

Jan. 23

The writer is a senior in Pierson College. 

A new approach to computer science

I could not agree more with the News’ View on the need for a new approach to introductory computer science (“For common-sense computer science,” Jan. 25). I recently had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation by David Malan, who teaches Harvard’s introductory computer science class (CS50). I was amazed to realize that, due to its enormous popularity, almost 40 percent of Harvard’s students will have taken CS50 at some point as an undergraduate. The class is no lightweight; it covers a broad range of topics needed to understand computer science and the art of programming. Mr. Malan has graciously made all the course material, including videos of his lectures, freely available at http://cs50.tv as open courseware.

As a Yale computer science major and someone who has spent 30 years in the field, including founding two software companies, I cannot overstate how important it is that Yale provides a similar introduction to computer science. The importance of doing so is not to have a feeder to the computer science major, nor to teach Yalies how to create a website or build mobile apps. Rather, it would be to provide a large percentage of the future leaders of society with an appreciation for the intellectual underpinnings of the technology that defines so much of the world today.

If the classical definition of a liberal arts education is one that teaches the subjects and skills that are needed in order to take an active part in civic life, then a broad-based and accessible introductory computer science class should be viewed as a major commitment to the liberal arts at Yale.

Mordechai Beizer

Jan. 28

The writer is a 1978 graduate of Berkeley College.