Wednesday, September 30, 2009

* Dartmouth's President Kim and the Health-Care Dog-Paddle

The Valley News
(not published)

I appreciate Mr. Allen Hood’s thoughtful response to my question to President Kim about Health Care. Apparently my phrase “the realm of the Divine” has muddied the waters. Let me try to clear them a bit: Perhaps a better phrase would have been “People shouldn’t play God”. That’s what I am afraid Dr. Kim is advocating.

By the way, the tremendously competent human beings who saved my life at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, could not have done so if my health insurance hadn’t paid for tests that indicated my life needed saving in the first place.

Instead I would simply have been a quietly ticking time bomb, waiting for kidney cancer to spread to my bones without any symptoms until it was too late.

I agree in a way with Mr. Hood that we should all sink or swim together with identical health care coverage: But I’m afraid what Dr. Kim and other health care experts are saying is that those of us who are swimming now, should be reduced to dog-paddling so that those who aren’t swimming at all can dog-paddle too.

I want everyone to be RAISED to my level of health coverage. I don’t want everyone to be LOWERED to a reduced coverage so that universal coverage can be achieved. Reduction is what Dr. Kim and Mr. Obama are proposing, I fear.

The real problem is this: Politicians are too cowardly to raise taxes so everyone can have the excellent health care coverage which I have.

Instead they want to reduce my health care coverage and give everyone else the same reduced coverage so they don’t have to raise taxes.

But they want to do something else in their cowardly avoidance of raising taxes which is certain to poison the well. They want to cut doctors’ pay by changing the fee structure incentive system.

Have you ever worked in a system where employees were disgruntled? I wouldn’t want a disgruntled surgeon cutting out my cancerous tumor. I want my doctors happy, wealthy, and fulfilled, if you please, Dr. Kim.

Raise my taxes any day of the week.


Paul D. Keane

* Intellectual Guts: Yale and the Daily News

Letter to the Editor
Yale Daily News

Whatever one thinks of Yale Press’s censorship (Bolton v. Blair) of the Muhammad cartoons one of the things I admire most about Yale and the Yale Daily News is their courage in making space for both sides of an intellectual argument to be heard, even when one (or both) is clearly wrong.

They did this in the 70’s with racism: Black Panthers and the now discredited scholar who proposed that African Americans had inferior brain power; they did it in the eighties with feminism and sexism; and they did it in the 90’s with gay rights and straight uptights.

Now they are doing it with the Yale Press censorship of the Muhammad cartoons and the very cartoonists and editors who published those cartoon appearing on campus.

This is what a Univerity is about: pursuing the truth wherever it leads.

Bravo Yale and YDN!

However,intellectual debate or not, it is ironic that the Judeo-Christian world has been so intolerant of the censorship imposed by the Muslim world on the image of Muhammad.

The Old Testament is full of censorship. The face of God could not be looked upon, nor his name (Yahweh) written or spoken--hence the millennia-old text-message-type abbreviation, YHWH.

Ham is cursed (Genesis 9:20-27) for "viewing" his father Noah's nakedness, and the 3000 year history of racism begins.

And unless my memory fails me, one of the central pillars of the Protestant Reformation was the taboo against images: hence the ransacking of Roman Catholic churches and the breaking of statues and desecration of stained glass and painted images, something Mr. Blair's country knows about firsthand. (Ever use the word "iconoclasm"?)

So former U.N. Ambassador Bolton (LAW ’76) and his friends who call Yale Press’s censorship “intellectual cowardice” shouldn't get too huffy and puffy in their smug rejection of Muslim taboos which prompted Yale Press's censorship.

Nor should former Prime Minister Blair, now teaching a religion and ethics course at Yale, who applauds the Yale Press’s decision as “absolutely the right thing”, fail to see the fascinating and horrifying stalemate created between different aspects of First Amendment rights here: Freedom of Speech vs. Freedom of Religion.
Pusillanimous Yale Press ?

(Removed by Yale Daily News)
When a taboo is elevated to the level of zeal bloodshed has often been the consequence. If I recall correctly, the Christian Crusades slaughtered a few folk in propagating its own taboos.)

It is only the intellectual debate embraced by Yale itself and the Yale Daily News which can keep the zeal in check.

Paul D. Keane
M.A., M.Div., M.Ed.

above letter appeared as
# 47 in comments to the article:

Cartoonist’s visit causes stirBy Alison Greenberg, Danny Serna and Esther Zuckerman
Contributing Reporter, Contributing Reporter, Staff Reporter
Published Friday, October 2, 2009

. .

Comments from the Yale Daily News:

#51 By Hieronymus 1:55p.m. on October 5, 2009

#47: proving again the superfluity--indeed, the embarrassment--of DIV.

Paraphrase: "Jews wrote YHWH and Protestants trashed Catholics, so, we moderns should think twice about criticizing others' censorship."

Ah, equivalency and moral relativism--at least M.Divs are consistent.

Why do M.Divs even, well, *bother* with the G-d question, given that to them 'twould seem the conclusion is foregone?
#53 By PDK M.'Div. '80 5:34a.m. on October 6, 2009
"...should think twice about criticizing others' censorship." Hieronymous

Hieronymous seems a bit testy.

I believe the words were "it is ironic how intolerant the Judeo-Christian world is of Muslim censorship of the Muhammad image".

Does that say anything about "think twice about critciziing others'censorship?" Go at it. Criticize all you want. Am merely pointing out an irony.

My point may be (and it is still gestating) that religions go through evolutionary stages and that some of the components of Islam may be stuck in "arrested development" just as the Judeo-Christian world was stuck for centuries in "arrested devlopment", and remnants of it remain so today, in the name of orthodoxy.

Indeed my own letter was "censored" by the YDN and I am not objecting. If you want to read the omitted penultimate sentence go to

I assume YDN was acting responsibly since they thought my anti-christian sentiments about the christian Crusades might inflame an already incendiary situation. (Will they do that again here?)

Kindly don't lump me together with all "Divs".

My history at YDN as publisher, editor and sole writer of
Holy Smoke: Opinionation from Holy Hill 1976-80, and now as blogger of The Anti-Yale, is one of gadfly and irritant to the Yale and other institutions involved in the idolatrous worship known as Materialism. And don't for a minute think Materialism isn't a religion whose rites are practiced this very second on millions of digital altars around the globe.

I named those institutions Mercantilia in 1977 at YDS and that label still applies today.

My comments have nothing to do with "foregone conclusions."

And by the way, my comments are signed with a real name, and an academic background, for what that is worth.

Paul Keane

M.A.(Middlebury '97), M.Ed.(Kent State,'72)



#56 By Hieronymus 10:13a.m. on October 7, 2009

Apologies, Paul Keane: YDN did not find my response suitable for publishing.

Rest assured: my skewering of your hypocrisy was amusing and incisive.
#57 By Paul Keane 5:15p.m. on October 7, 2009
My dear Hieronymous:

Sarcasm I now see to be, in general, the language of the Devil; for which reason I have, long since, as good as renounced it.
Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus (1833-1834), book II, ch. IV

While, Hieronymous, I do not subscribe to personifications of either evil or good in the form of deities or devils, I do believe that separating one's mind from one's heart is a pyschological equivalent of what Dante called the Inferno.

I recall when I was much younger taking a kind of sterile exhilaration from skewering others on the rapier of my prose.

Do I detect an echo of same in your "Rest assured: my skewering of your hypocrisy was amusing and incisive."

I could save you forty years of trouble, but unfortunately each new generation must learn these lessons anew.

So, Good night Hieronymous. The rest is silence . . .

Paul K

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

* Religious SEX at YALE: How Enormously Rude

There is a new idolatry in our pop-psychology, post-Freudian epoch, an idolatry which is simultaneously a cross cultural form of extremely rude elitism.

This idolatry is the worship of Relationships with a capital R.

It has, paradoxically, been adopted by Christian religionists, with the smug twist that God is somehow more intensely present, more therapeutically manifest, more at home in the world, when captured in the cage of a Relationship between two persons (the prison of intimacy) than He is manifest elsewhere in the world, uncomfortable and awkward outside of the Sacred Dyad.

An Epicurean bonus to the notion of God as the Genie in the Lamp of Relationship is the proposition that God is somehow most sweetly and exquisitely Himself in the presence of the sexual intimacy of Relationship.

Of course, this smugness excludes about a third of the world, who, for some reason or other, are not skillful at intimacy, sexual or otherwise, and therefore must seek their emotional food from many persons in small portions rather than from one person in a perpetual banquet.

Persons of the past who fall into this third of the world include Emily Dickinson, A. E. Housman, Walt Whitman and Thornton Wilder (a Yale man).

Must we assume that the new idolators would somehow find those persons’ lives to have been sadly remote from the Divine since they had no magic lamp of Relationship to rub in order to summon up the idolators’ God?

The truth of the matter is that God will not be so caged or summoned. And the new post-Freudians’ blasphemy will not be so easily swallowed in our egalitarian land which recoils as the very odor of elitism.

As a Biblical test to excuse this rudeness, the idolators appeal to Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man . . . shall cleave unto his wife and they shall become one flesh.”

In other words, the sum of one and one is One!

1+1 =1!

Very interesting indeed: Another attempt of the religionists to make man or woman feel that somehow he or she is less than whole, less than independent, less than self.

How rude. How enormously rude.

This idolatry permeates even the Christian caucus chambers of a great university, in this case Yale, where the religionists, in seeking to write a religious reply to the Yale medical community’s booklet Sex at Yale, propose that sex is somehow most pure, most meaningful, most Godly, when it occurs in the context of Relationship.

Fleeing in terror and repugnance from the realities of our animal nature as Christianity has always done, the religionists at Yale hope to disguise sex by loading it down with the junk jewelry and perfume of the “Language of Intimacy”, intimacy being the couture the post-Freudians assert is most alluring to Deity.

Regrettably this caucus is not confined to Christianity.

Jewish religionists –the traditional foes of elitism since they have been the victims of the elitist of elitisms for 2000 years (the proposition that Christ sits at the right hand of God and no one can approach the Father except through the Son ---rendering all of the prophets of the First Testament null and void), yes Jewish religionists, are regrettably also members of this committee toying with the idolatrous language of Relationship.

What rude rubbish.

We hope that before this little religious treatise on sex gets to the printer this idolatrous self-indulgence will be purged from its prose.

Submitted to the Chaplain and his committee after reading an advance copy of their proposed pamphlet responding to the Yale medical community’s pamphlet, Sex at Yale, 1984/85.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

* Transgender Dorms at Yale (and Harvard?):Genital Jargon Disses the Gender-Neutral Student "Body".

When a single finger (or hand) pressed against a button (or lever) in the Enola Gay caused the annihilation of 100,000 people on Hiroshima in 9 seconds, all prior definitions of manhood were instantly and forever eradicated which depended on the Biological Determinism model: the strength and accuracy of a man's body to overhwelm another man's body (whether with sword, horse and joust, rifle, cannon, airpower, etc.) ; for, indeed, that finger could have been the finger of a woman just as well as that of a man. (It could have been the finger of a primate, for that matter.)

Man's superior body strength and its ability to target and overhwelm weakness in other combatants had been the primary ingredient in culturally agreed upon definitions of a man in the so-called Biological Determinism model.

Suddenly it was gone.

Anxiety over this sudden absence bubbles up unexpectedly--and perhaps unconsciously--four years later in Arthur Miller's 1949 play, Death of a Salesman: In the space of a thin 110 pages, over 10 definitions of a man appear!

Similarly, when the feminists of the 1970's divorced womanhood from all definitons which depended on the female body (i.e., the Biological Determinism model: one who makes babies; one who feeds others) a culturally agreed upon definiton of woman was eradicated.

Thus began our unmooring.

It is ironic that as this era unfolds without these previously agreed upon definitions of man and woman, the Feminist critique (which insists on liberation from the Biological Determinism model) persists in dissing men with that very same Biological Determinism terminology they eschew , i.e., "Phallocentric", "Dominator" "Hegemonic"
"Hierarchical" labels: all of which depend on the male's capacity to overhwelm others, with superior "force", originally a term which applied to male musculature and physical prowess alone.

If Yale and Harvard do create transgender dormitories, it will be interesting to see what inevitable language of oppression emerges to diss these groups: Will it be the genital jargon of Biological Determinism? Or will it be the slang of a gender neutral student body, an as yet uncoined slang divorced from the human body?


Note: In 1949, five years after the Enola Gay eradicated all culturally agreed upon definitions of manhood, Arthur Miller published Death of a Salesman. In the thin volume of 110 pages, no fewer than 11 definitons of a man emerged, revealing not only the "temporary" nature of Willy Loman's identity, but the anxiety of a society without manhood.

Eleven Definitions of a Man
from Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

“A man who can’t handle tools is not a man.” (Miller, p30)
"Never fight fair with a stranger, boy. You’ll never get out of the jungle that way.” (p.34)
“:. . .a man is not a bird, to come and go with the springtime.” (p.39)
“A small man can be just as exhausted as a great man.” (p.40)
“You don’t raise a guy to a responsible job who whistles in the elevator.” 9p. 44)
“ ‘Gee’ is a boy’s word. A man walking in for fifteen thousand dollars does not say ‘Gee’.” (p. 47)
“God knows Howard, I never asked a favor of any man.” (p.59)
“ You can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away ---a man is not a piece of fruit..” (p.61)
“You end up worth more dead than alive.” (p.76)
“A man can’t go out the way he came in , Ben, a man has got to add up to something.” (p.99)
“No man only needs a little salary.” (p. 110)
“ It’s the only dream you can have ---to come out number one man.” (p.111)

Friday, September 25, 2009

* A Pound of Flesh at Yale (and Harvard too): Closet Usury? Portfolio Poker? Mercantile Mirage?

The following excerpts from a Yale Daily News front page article 9/23/09 ("It's official: Yale's worst loss ever") remind me that I have an uncomfortably sneaking suspicion every time I contribute to my 403B:

Aren't I really just a Closet Usurer every time I indulge my illusion ( my fantasy?) that I can make more money in the stock market than in Treasury Bonds or bank interest?

When I hear Mr. Swenson's investment techniques for Yale called a "long term strategy" it dignifies my complicity a bit. But my apprehension nags on.

If I were really honest, isn't the entire Stock Market investment "strategy" promoted by the mutual funds and the Mr. Swensons of the world (even the portion touched by the magic wand of Warren Buffet) little more than an elaborately intricate shill game ? A kind of Portfolio Poker? A mercantile mirage?

Pardon me for being heretical in an idolatrous society which unabashedly worships money.


Published Wednesday, September 23, 2009


It’s official: Yale’s worst loss ever
The Yale endowment posted a 24.6 percent investment loss in the fiscal year that ended June 30, falling to $16.3 billion in its most severe decline ever, University officials announced Tuesday.

. . . Swensen’s approach emphasizes investing for the long term, and, indeed, over the past 10 years, Yale’s endowment has still outperformed benchmarks: The fund returned an average 11.8 percent over the past decade, beating annual results for domestic stocks of negative 1.2 percent and domestic bonds of 6 percent. If Yale’s investments had performed comparably to the average return of other college and university endowments over the past 10 years, the endowment would be $10 billion lower.

But this year saw a stunning reversal of fortunes: Endowments such as Yale’s and Harvard’s, which racked up enormous gains in recent years through alternative and illiquid investments, were hit hardest in the financial collapse. Meanwhile, portfolios such as the University of Pennsylvania’s, which holds mostly stocks and bonds, lost 15.7 percent. . .

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

* What Glorifies Yale Glorifies Harvard . . .

Letter to the Editor
The Crimson

Dear Editor:

Why do all things Yale have to do with all things Harvard too? These two Ivies are like right and left arms to New England --- indeed to the Academy itself--- and have been so since July 15, 1838, nearly 200 years ago, when Ralph Waldo Emerson grafted them (as the sites of equally prestigious Divinity Schools) to the same intellectual discussion forever in his divine heresy The Address to the Divinity Students at Harvard College.

That address challenged the very nature of orthodoxy itself , positing Transcendentalism in its place, a belief which has become progenitor of the self-help and self-esteem movements ubiquitous in our time.

Like Harvard, Yale is too important to society, and the Academy, not to be critiqued. It is in that spirit that I invite you and your readers therefore to view my blog The Anti-Yale at which includes my letter to Yale’s President Giamatti in 1980 about the racial profiling incident I witnessed at Yale on my graduation night, outlined in a letter to The Crimson published last week.

The Anti-Yale blog is dedicated to Yale's most famous critic (In memory of Wm. F. Buckley, Jr. who alerted me that Man is God at Yale) and is inspired by one of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's favorite Proverbs( "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful" Proverbs 27: 6).

It is comprised of letters, many published, both chiding and encouraging various parts of the University since my graduation in 1980, including the tragic murder at Yale two weeks ago.
In that vein it contains a link to an article on the unsolved disappearance in 1984 of Yale Divinity School student Sam Todd
first published in the now defunct Connecticut Magazine in 1985.

What glorifies Yale may glorify Harvard; What afflicts Yale may afflict Harvard too. In that spirit, I invite The Crimson editors and their readers to visit Sincerely,

Paul D. Keane

M. Div. ‘80
Yale Divinity School

Sunday, September 20, 2009

* Slavery and Segregation: National Mental Illness

U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder (Columbia Law '76)

The Fifth Estate: The Outting and Gutting of Racism

A response to General Holder's call for a "national discussion on race":Vermont playwright Alan Haehnel and Paul Keane, the Talking Turkey blogger, discuss how racism was exposed and eviscerated by the Fifth Estate.

There is a surprise appearance by Bentley, the dog.

To view this Blip TV clip, click The Fifth Estate link above. (Buffering takes a while; fiddle around with it!)

Friday, September 18, 2009

* Murder at Yale: Slenderly Knowing Our Selves

What the tragic murder at Yale this week tells us; what the unsolved murder of Ms. Jovin '99 a decade ago at Yale tells us; what the unsolved disappearance of Sam Todd while a student at Yale Divinity School in 1984 tells us; what the killings at Kent State in 1970 tell us: is that the human personality rests on uncertain terrain, with volcanic forces not far below.

Most people keep those forces at bay with neurotic bric-a-brac which are sometimes annoying, sometimes charming.

Occasionally those volcanic forces erupt.

In a New York Times review today of the new film about John Keats, Bright Star, A. O. Scott refers to "Sigmund Freud's 'Dark Continent, '" alluding obviously to the Id in the now largely ignored and trivialized tripartite architecture of the psyche which Freud devised more than a century ago (Superego/Ego/Id).

We trivialize at our own risk; Perhaps that is why we are so much more shocked by murder at Yale than elsewhere.

Indeed, as Yale's Harold Bloom reminds us, it was Shakespeare who first pointed to the nether regions of the soul. Regan says of Lear, "He hath ever but slenderly known himself." Freud would say that Regan's lament is an axiom of the human predicament itself.

"Where Id was, there shall Ego be" is Freud's solution to that predicament; i.e the territory of the primitive, amoral, sometimes violent Unconscious shall be reduced or neutralized ( zapped? ) by the insight and awareness brought about in the Ego by talk-therapy.

We are living in the first generation in human history of what may become an epoch in which there is no longer any culturally agreed upon definition of a man; and, likewise for woman.

Both definitions have been severed from the human body: Biological Determinism no longer reigns. *

This 'liberation' may also be dangerously re-arranging the largely abandoned Freudian architecture of the psyche, an architecture no less valid for its antique, even archaic, appearance to the modern scholar.

It may be that with the eradication of traditional definitions of manhood and womanhood, we have now made it much more difficult than it was in the past for Freud's Ego to 'invade', zap with insight, and diminish the territory of the Id.

We may indeed but slenderly know even how to begin to search for the LOCATION of our increasingly diluted and undefined Selves, let alone identify and neutralize their violent underpinnings.

This confusion ensures the volcano even more avenues for eruption.

We are unmoored.

Paul D. Keane
M.A., M.Div., M.Ed.

* When a single finger (or hand) pressed against a button (or lever) in the Enola Gay caused the annihilation of 100,000 people on Hiroshima in 9 seconds, all prior definitions of manhood were instantly and forever eradicated which depended on the Biological Determinism model: the strength and accuracy of a man's body to overhwelm another man's body (whether with sword, horse and joust, rifle, cannon, airpower, etc.) ; for, indeed, that finger could have been the finger of a woman just as well as that of a man. (It could have been the finger of a primate, for that matter.)

Man's superior body strength and its ability to target and overhwelm weakness in other combatants had been the primary ingredient in culturally agreed upon definitions of a man in the so called Biological Determinism model. Suddenly it was gone.

Anxiety over this sudden absence bubbles up ironically--and perhaps unconsciously--four years later in Arthur Millers 1949 play, Death of a Salesman: In the space of a thin 110 pages, no fewer than eleven definitions of a man appear!

Similarly, when the feminists of the 1970's divorced womanhood from all definitons which depended on the female body (i.e., the Biological Determinism model: one who makes babies; one who feeds others) all culturally agreed upon definitons of a woman were eradicated.

Thus began our unmooring.
NB: It is noteworthy in this regard that the 9/20/09 edition of New York Times Magazine has as one of its three feature articles "The Holy Grail of the Unconscious" about the work of Freud's disciple turned competitor, Carl Jung.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

* The Crimson: Racism at Yale (September 16, 2009)

The Crimson
The University Daily Since 1873 Updated: Wednesday, September 16, 2009 11:53 PM
LETTERS: Racial Profiling at Yale
Published On Wednesday, September 16, 2009 11:19 PM

To the editors:

On my graduation night from Yale Divinity School, May 1980, I witnessed an example of racial profiling by Yale Police hauntingly similar to that endured by Professor Gates this year, only the unfortunate handcuff victim was neither famous nor in his own home. And unfortunately, the term ‘racial profiling” had not been coined.

Rather, the victim was a young African American male who was reclining on the front steps of Hendrie Hall, a Yale building on a public street in New Haven, early in the evening while it was still light outside. His “crime” brought three Yale Police to handcuff and arrest him. When I inquired as a passerby what these police accused him of doing, he wept and replied that he had been sitting or lying on the steps.

After I sent several letters to Yale’s President A. Bartlett Giamatti and other Yale faculty, his arrest for trespassing was “nolle’d” when it went to court.

Paul Keane
White River Junction, VT.

September 10, 2009

Note post in this blog : YALE BEATS HARVARD (AGAIN): Racial Profiling at Yale

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

* Yale Disappearance Still Unsolved after 25 Years

Letters to the Editor
Yale Daily News

Dear Editor:

I am sorry to add to your somber article (9/16/09) about Ms. Jovin '99's unsolved murder published in the wake of Ms. Le's tragic killing at Yale last week.

During my time at Yale, late '70's early '80's, a young male undergraduate was found dead on the steps of the Catholic Church on Hillhouse Avenue two houses up from the president's house. Apparently he had been mugged the night before and abandoned, leaving him without medical help till morning, when it was too late.

And then there is the unsolved case of the disappearance of divinity student Sam Todd in Greenwich Village New Year's Eve 1984/85. See Connecticut Magazine article on this mystery at the following blog address

I have not changed my original conclusion in that article, even after 25 years: it is possible that Sam Todd could still be alive despite the time and silence of this quarter century which has passed.

Paul Keane
M.A., M.Div., M.Ed.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

* Dartmouth : Dead or Alive, Dr. Kim?

Letter to the Editor
Valley News

Dear Editor:

Last year the physicians at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center saved my life, especially one highly alert young specialist who ordered three expensive tests which President Obama's health care cost-cutting imperatives would have denied me. I am very grateful for their skill and talent.

Jim Yong Kim, M.D., the new president of Dartmouth College (which includes the medical school), is a world renowned health care expert who indicated on Bill Moyers' Journal today, 9/13/ 09, that he supports those very same cost-cutting imperatives which would have killed me.

I have one question for Dr. Kim, after welcoming him to the Upper Valley. It is an age-old ethical question which I encountered in my degree studies at Yale Divinity School: Is the possibility of saving 10,000 human lives worth sacrificing ONE human life?

In other words, should my little old middle class Vermont life be sacrificed because the health care delivery "efficiency" Dr. Kim advocated on Bill Moyers' Journal might possibly help save 10,000 lives, lives which don't require such expensive tests as did I?

With all due respect to Dr. Kim, this decision belongs to the realm of the Divine, not to the realm of human, slick, efficient, cost-cutting, number crunching, health care bureaucratic experts.

Paul D. Keane
M.A., M.Div., M.Ed.

Friday, September 11, 2009

* YALE BEATS HARVARD (AGAIN) : Racial Profiling at Yale, Twenty-nine years before Henry Louis Gates at Harvard


26 May 80
A. Bartlett Giamatti
Yale University

Dear President Giamatti:

I am deeply disturbed by an incident I witnessed on my graduation night, May 25, at approximately 9:20 PM, on the steps of Hendrie Hall-----an incident which brings shame on Yale University and portends ominously for race relations between town and gown.
As I was walking by Hendrie Hall I noticed three white policemen, from Yale surrounding a young black male (perhaps 25 years old). The youth was handcuffed with hands behind his back and he was facing a wall of the building. I inquired of the policemen what was going on, and, when they refused to tell me, I inquired directly of the young man, “What are you accused of by these men?”

He replied that he had been lying or sitting on the front steps of Hendrie Hall. “Is that all?” I prodded. He turned his head toward me and replied, “Yes” with tears streaming down his face.

I asked him his name (Mr. S._______) and told him I would do something about it.

I returned to my apartment and immediately called Dean Leander Keck [Divinity School] and Professor Henri Nouwen [Divinity School], described the incident, and asked them to phone the campus police department and express their concern. I told them that as a lifelong resident of New Haven I felt that this was yet another example of Yale’s hostility toward townspersons; and, that it more certainly was an incident of blatant racist harassment on the part of three white campus policemen. For, had a young white male or a stumble-bum been doing the same thing on Hendrie Hall’s steps, he most certainly would have not been handcuffed and arrested. Or, even if an intoxicated Yale undergraduate had passed out on the front steps of Hendrie Hall and been mouthy to police who prodded him awake, the magic of the I.D. card would have insured that he would have been treated with the kid gloves Yale reserves for its own

Mr. S _____ had the misfortune to be neither white nor Old Blue. And his treatment by Yale police reflected that fact.

Dean Keck and Professor Nouwen were able to determine that Mr. S _____ was sent to city jail, charged with trespassing, and released.

I think Yale needs to evaluate the morality of this official behavior. Is lying on the front steps of Hendrie Hall such a heinous and threatening crime that three policemen from Yale need to handcuff a frightened black youth and reduce him to tears? Is one’s need to lie down --- for whatever reason ---a crime?
Does Yale wish to disrupt a young man’s life by requiring him to appear in court and perhaps earn a police record simply because he had the misfortune to sack-out on the property of precious Yale University?

I think decency and humaneness require that your office intercede in this matter to ensure that this young man’s life and sensibilities are not further scarred by this official behavior by Yale University which I can only interpret as institutional racism.

But in a larger sense, I wish to know if my alma mater is so obtuse that it does not recognize that such police behavior contributes to a potential latent-dynamite scenario similar to that which exploded in Miami’s race riots two weeks ago?

I would like to work quietly, behind the scenes with your office to create a town/gown committee composed of black and white clergy from the Divinity School and New Haven to monitor Yale University Police Department’s arrests of non-campus persons. I believe such a watchdog committee could nip in the bud potentially explosive situations by creating an environment in which the campus police would feel themselves held more accountable for their behavior than they now are.

I would hope that you know me well enough by now to realize that I am willing to work WITH Yale in this matter. But if Yale ignores my concern and pooh-poohs what I consider to be a potentially grave situation, you do know me well enough to know that I will bring this matter to the attention of those who will take it seriously.


Paul Keane
Class of 1980
Yale Divinity School

Roland H. Bainton, Professor Emeritus, YDS [Yale Divinity School]
Leander Keck, Dean, YDS
Harry Adams, Associate Dean, YDS
Henri Nouwen, Professor, YDS
Gene Outka, Professor, YDS
Charles Brown, Professor, YDS
J_____R_____, witness to the incident