Thursday, November 11, 2004

Re. Ogletree Response (II)

From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
To: Charles Ogletree
Sent: Thursday, November 11, 2004 4:25 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: Fw: Re: Corrected response

Dear Professor Ogletree:

Thanks for your response, and for its celerity.

Professor, your email seems to contain various mea culpas - - some implicit apologies as it were, as well as one explicit apology. But be assured that I did not feel any apology was owed to me. Yet it was kind of you to in effect apologize, and I wish to express my thanks.

Now let me apologize in turn, because of this response. I did not wish to write you again lest there be interminable back and forthing. I sincerely hope that, and at this point certainly intend that, this shall be my last substantive email to you on the subject of the discussion. But I did feel this email necessary because of some wording in your letter.

In your email you say, "I had the benefit of research and ideas, not only from students, but as well from colleagues who offered terrific ideas and suggestions. I adopted some and rejected others." So far, so good. It is laudable to have received - - and presumably to have sought out - - ideas and suggestions, and to have adopted some and rejected others.

Immediately after the above quoted sentence, you then say, "Every word in the book is not mine"- - a sentence which plainly is not to be read literally, but is to be read to mean the quite different proposition that "Not every word in the book is mine." The sentence "Every word in the book is not mine" gives rise to two questions, as discussed below.

Immediately after saying "Every word in the book is not mine," you say, "I had a terrific copy editor who was equally helpful on every aspect of the book." You then say, "My book was not written by someone else, but I certainly did benefit from input by others."

Professor, I hope I am not being obtuse or obstinate, but it does seem to me that this perhaps somewhat odd concatenation of sentences raises legitimate questions:

  1. When you say that you received valuable suggestions which you adopted, and that not every word in the book is yours, I hope you are not implying that some people gave you suggestions in the form of draft language which you then inserted into the book pretty much as given to you, except for relatively minor editing changes. One hopes the idea that not every word is yours is only a (possibly infelicitous) way of saying you adopted some suggestions made by others, although you did put the suggestions entirely into your own language.
  2. When you say that not every word in the book is yours, and then say that you had a copy editor who was equally helpful on all aspects of the book, are you implying that the copy editor wrote, either initially or as a redraft, substantial parts of the book? One again hopes that this is not the implication. One hopes that the copy editor did only what copy editors normally do.
  3. When you say you wrote the book but benefitted from input by others, are you saying, as one hopes, that you wrote every word of the first and subsequent drafts (except for normal changes made in the editing process), and that the input from others was strictly in the form of ideas and suggestions rather than in the form of draft language which you adopted pretty much lock, stock and barrel?

Professor, as said, I hope all of this is not mere obtuseness or obstinacy. But at rock bottom the issue is a simple one. Except for normal wording changes made by others in the editing process, did you or did you not write every word of the first and subsequent drafts of the book (including making the initial decision on whether to insert Balkin's material (or other quoted material)?) I believe you could lay the whole question to rest if you can and were to make two simple statements, which, if true, could not rightly be challenged by your assistants, President Bok, Dean Clark or anyone else. Those statements would be:

  1. "Except for normal word changes made by others in the editing process, I personally wrote every word of the first and all subsequent drafts of the book and made the initial decision on whether to include any and all quoted material, including the Balkin material."
  2. Although I received and adopted ideas and suggestions from others, those ideas and suggestions did not come to me in the form of drafts which I then inserted in the books pretty much unchanged except for some editing. Rather, I myself wrote the language that reflects those ideas and suggestions."

Professor, if these two simple statements are true, are therefore not rightly challengeable, and were to be made by you, then I think the brouhaha would be over. On the other hand, if you cannot or will not make them, then the implication which inevitably will be drawn is that parts of your book were written by others.

Professor, given the ease with which you could lay the matter to rest if you can and do make the two simple statements, and given the inevitable implication that will be drawn if you cannot or are unwilling to make the statements, I cannot presently see how any further emails from me will be necessary or desirable except to congratulate you if you can and do make the simple statements which would end the matter.

Sincerely yours,

Lawrence R. Velvel,
Dean

----- Original Message -----
From: Charles Ogletree
To: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
Sent: Wednesday, November 10, 2004 5:45 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: Fw: Re: Corrected response

Dean Velvel:

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate your responsiveness. All Deliberate Speed reflects my personal views about on Brown, and how that decision has influenced my life. I did not mean to question whether you read the book, and trying to do too many things at once, I wrongfully attributed comments to you that were not yours. I had the benefit of research and ideas, not only from students, but as well from colleagues who offered terrific ideas and suggestions. I adopted some and rejected others. Every word in the book is not mine. I had a terrific copy editor who was equally helpful on every aspect of the book. My book was not written by someone else, but I certainly did benefit from input by others. For that I am grateful. You are right that, the haste in writing the note to you, without noting that someone else implied that others "wrote" the book, was wrong, and for that I apologize. The same lack of careful attention to your email and the assistance that I received from others during the final week of the edits of the draft of the book are inexcusable, and merit whatever reactions and responses I received. Thanks for your note, and best wishes.

Charles Ogletree
At 04:45 PM 11/10/2004


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