Re: “Just rude or talking truth?” (Oct. 9): In commenting on my question-and-answer period following the showing of “The Case for Israel” at Yale on Wednesday night, both writers failed to describe the unusual format. Those who attended the event can attest to the fact that because of the controversial and emotional nature of the Israel Palestine conflict, I requested that critical and hostile questioners be given the first opportunity to speak, that they need not ask a question but could make a comment and that they be given an opportunity for a follow-up comment as well. It was a format designed for active dialogue and controversy. Moreover, it was I who insisted on calling on the hostile questioners who then complained to the News.
Yes, I interjected my views into some of their lengthy comments. I always do that. It is my Socratic style of teaching and conversation. Some may consider that rude. I consider it respectful. I take students seriously. I treat them as adults. I refuse to pander. The end result is that all views are fully aired, as they were Wednesday.
Other speakers simply allow the questioners to go on and on, then they praise them in a pandering manner and avoid answering directly. This may seem respectful but it is the ultimate put-down.
I will continue to conduct my discussions in a Socratic manner. Those who disapprove need not participate. But don’t expect to make hostile comments and get a free pass if you can’t persuasively respond to contrary assertions.
The writer, a 1962 graduate of the Yale Law School, is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and spoke at “The Case for Israel” at Yale last Wednesday.