As more and more Hillary Clinton campaign emails are dispersed by WikiLeaks, important discussions are being had about the boundaries of personal and professional privacy, and breaches thereof. Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig has taken a resonant stand on that very issue in response to a series of those same leaked emails in which he is repeatedly insulted.
In an email exchange from August of 2015 between Clinton campaign chair John Podesta and Center for American Progress head Neera Tanden, the two call Lessig “smug” and “pompous,” with Tanden saying, “I fucking hate that guy. Like I’d like to kick the shit out of him on twitter.” But rather than firing back in kind when the barbs became public, Lessig took the high road.
In a blog post, Lessig pointed out that the leaked email thread “reveals no crime or violation of any important public policy,” and defended Tanden, writing that “Her work has always and only been devoted to advancing her vision of the public good. It is not right that she should bear the burden of this sort of breach.” We should all be so gracious in the face of brickbats.
Tanden has since apologized to Lessig, explaining in an email to The New Republic that:
While I do not authenticate any other emails that were stolen, I personally and profusely apologized to Professor Lessig as soon as this email surfaced and I deeply appreciate his incredibly gracious response.
Read Lessig’s full blog post below.
I’m on my way from Iceland to my parents’ to see my dad, who’s not doing well. Landing in JFK, I found my inbox flooded with questions about the above. Here’s a single, and my only, response.
I’m a big believer in leaks for the public interest. That’s why I support Snowden, and why I believe the President should pardon him.
But I can’t for the life of me see the public good in a leak like this — at least one that reveals no crime or violation of any important public policy.
We all deserve privacy. The burdens of public service are insane enough without the perpetual threat that every thought shared with a friend becomes Twitter fodder. Neera has only ever served in the public (and public interest) sector. Her work has always and only been devoted to advancing her vision of the public good. It is not right that she should bear the burden of this sort of breach.