Saturday, July 16, 2016

Difficult Conversations: An Interview with Alan Dershowitz

In theory, we all advocate free speech but it seems we need be ever more cautious about what we say, especially on sensitive topics.

That’s unfortunate. Undue censorship of thought endangers our sense of self-efficacy and reduces our impact. Society most likely improves with the free and open exploration of all benevolently derived ideas.

That’s why I’m pleased that today’s The Eminents interview in Psychology Today is with Alan Dershowitz. He has defended such unpopular celebrities as Julian Assange (WikiLeaks,) Mike Tyson, Patty Hearst, Jim Bakker, Anatoly Sharansky, and Claus von B├╝low. He was appellate adviser in the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

At age 28, Dershowitz was the youngest person ever to become a professor of law in Harvard’s 380-year history. He is the author of 31 books including Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law. The Times’ review of that book described him as having “lived a life that matters, hugely and enduringly. He is a man in full.”

Despite Dershowitz’s long track record of liberalism, he has come under attack from the Left for questioning standard liberal positions on campus rape policies, race, and on Israel. In this interview, Dershowitz offers advice to us as individuals and society's key mind-molders: the colleges and the media.

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