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Collected Invective

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Dershowitz in 1986.   

Lightning-rod celebrity attorney Alan M. Dershowitz donated his papers to his alma mater, Brooklyn College, in 2005. He just gave permission to release the documents, one segment of which (subgroup 6, series 6.2, box 23) holds an extensive trove of the hate mail he has received. Herewith, an annotated selection.

1. From a letter sent to Dershowitz after he joined fellow Harvard Law prof Laurence Tribe in opposing the Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork: You and Larry Tribe together would not make a pimple on Judge Bork’s ass.

Dershowitz: “I’ve thought of publishing a book of my hate mail, but I don’t own the rights to the letters.” Then again, “Who’s going to sue me?”


2. Sent after Dershowitz unsuccessfully appealed hotel queen Leona Helmsley’s conviction for tax evasion in 1992: Congratulations on bilking that [expletive] Helmsley out of a half million, Dershie! You are some fucking hustler, kiddo!

Dershowitz: “Nobody bilks Helmsley out of anything. She screwed me on my fee.’”


3. Sent on a Notre Dame sesquicentennial postcard in big cursive letters: Loser


4. A hostile buyout offer, drafted on the letterhead of M. R. “Cy” Young, Walpole, Maine, and addressed “To The President” of “Harvard University”: Your Mr. Dershowitz is a disgrace. I will gladly fund a large part of his pension if you will discharge him.


5. From a note scribbled on the prescription pad of a San Francisco orthodontist, just after Dershowitz had a hand in defending O. J. Simpson: Dear lying Jew (remember, I’m Jewish), congratulations—a murdering butcher is on the street … May you and yours catch cancer.

Dershowitz: “During the O.J. case, most of my hate mail was from Jews.” (One of the victims, Ron Goldman, was Jewish.) “The disappointment factor was very high. I was a traitor.”


6. Sent by Michael Nelson, Esq., following one of Dershowitz’s innumerable TV appearances: “Your performance … convinced me that I made the correct decision not to become a law faculty member 14, and then again, 8 years ago. Your comments were imprecise, hyperbolic and … not well thought out or substantially based in fact—more laconically, it is called running off at the mouth.

Dershowitz, writing back at the time: “I think we have all benefited by your ‘decision’ not to have become a teacher of law students.


7. From a letter following another Dershowitz television interview: It is almost unbelievable that a man of your supposed intelligence would present the image of a nervous wreck with uncontrollable hand gestures and ugly gyrations of the hands. It is offensive to watch. Good luck.

Dershowitz: “I talk with my hands. Some people don’t like that. That’s who I am.”

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.


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