Gene Lyons is exceedingly wrong in his condemnation not only of Professor Melissa Harris-Perry but of American academia in general. In his "Sorry, I violated the 'Hitler Rule'" (Herald, Oct. 7), Lyons stretches over the entire column a defense of his having defamed Harris-Perry and concludes with a generalization about the misbehavior of all academics, "standard academic behavior" that Lyons supposes would be shocking to his readers.
Having heard Professor Harris-Perry lecture only once, I cannot judge her consistency as a public speaker - much less as an academic - except to remember her 20-minute address as one of the best speeches I have heard in years. I also suppose that since she was an associate professor of political science at Princeton before she moved to full professorship at Tulane, she is fully academically qualified for her work. She has won prestigious national awards for a book Princeton University Press published in 2005. Yale University has just published another.
Furthermore, as a columnist for The Nation magazine, she is a noteworthy journalist on contemporary politics. I have at hand only one of her Nation columns, so I am not quite fair to Lyons to note - though it is true - that Harris-Perry's writing surpasses in interest, clarity, learning and cogency any of Lyons' recent contributions to the Herald.
The most outrageous pretension Lyons makes is his claim of knowing all academia - how all teachers in higher education behave. Apparently, like most of us, Lyons has trouble understanding even his own behavior, much less that of all teachers. He could learn some fundamental political science as well as some care in English composition from Professor Harris-Perry.