Dear Professor Dershowitz

I caught you on CNN the other night doing your talking head thing on the trial of Oscar Pistorius, the South African Olympian who runs on carbon fiber blades in place of amputated lower legs, for the murder of his girlfriend, the model Reeva Steenkamp.

Your Wikipedia entry reminds us why Piers Morgan had you on his show. You are a media star. In 1967, you became Harvard’s youngest ever full professor of law. You held the Felix Frankfurter professorship for 20 years until your retirement in 2013. You have successfully represented a stellar cast of celebrity defendants, including two, O.J. Simpson and Claus von Bulow, charged like Pistorius with killing women they had once supposedly loved.

South Africa, you told Mr Morgan and his audience with what seemed invincible certainty, was a “failed country”. Now I recognize the on-air rules of the game for professional talking heads include expressing yourselves in ways that might be considered unprofessional in a Harvard lecture hall. That said, your comment about South Africa would have been outlandish in any setting. In spite of his English tabloid roots, even Mr Morgan was taken aback.

Happily, Kelly Phelps, a live resident of the “failed country”, was on hand to help straighten you out. “Failed countries” do not generally boast institutions of the calibre of the University of Cape Town where Ms. Phelps teaches law. Nor do they retain talent such as hers. Her resume is worth a read. Her rebuttal that South Africa is “fundamentally sound” should command your respect. Continue reading “Dear Professor Dershowitz”