Doug Husak

Doug Husak
Visiting Professor, U of M School of Law; Professor of Philosophy, Rutgers

Tottered on: 16 November 2006
Temperature: 42F
Ceiling: relentless drizzle
Ground: wet
Wind: N at 9mph

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TT with HD: Doug Husak

HD: Welcome to the teeter totter!

DH: Good to be here!

HD: So doing some math here, to start off, you're visiting faculty at the U of M Law School ...

DH: ... right ...

HD: ... and the University of Michigan football team's record so far is 11 and 0.

DH: Exactly.

HD: Your home institution is Rutgers, ...

DH: ... right ...

HD: ... and their record so far is ...

DH: I think 10 and 0, they're undefeated. I think they've only played 10 games though. Maybe eleven, but I think only 10.

HD: I thought they'd only played 9!

DH: You know that could be true, too, frankly.

HD: But at any rate they're undefeated ...

DH: ... it's a zero at the end, right.

HD: Which is the salient point. And then Ohio State University, or The Ohio State University, I guess, to be precise, which is where you did your PhD and your JD, they are also 11 and 0. So combined you're like 32 possibly 33 and 0?

DH: Yeah, and that's unbelievable, because I tend to be a fan of teams that stink ...

HD: ... for example?

DH: Well, Rutgers has been a terrible team. They've been awful. They've never been good all the time I've been there. And, I'm from Cleveland.

HD: [laugh]

DH: Cleveland has gone longer without winning a professional championship than any city that has professional teams, I think.

HD: Didn't their baseball team win something ...

DH: ... has not won a World Series since 1948.

HD: Oh, so the standard is winning the World Series?

DH: Well winning the world championship, yes. They've won three American League Championships, since that year and went to the World Series and lost, obviously, all three times.

HD: That was part of the Albert Bell era, right?

DH: That's right. One [of those years] at least, yeah. When I was growing up, the Browns were great. But that was back a while ago. They've never won a Super Bowl. The Browns have never been to a Super Bowl. And, of course, for a while the Browns didn't even have a team. So anyway, I am a sports fan, I'm not a sports fanatic, but I'm a sports fan and my teams typically do badly. So this is a happy year for me.

HD: Have you followed the football season closely enough to have, at this point, worked through all the different scenarios that would be necessary for Rutgers to actually make it into the championship game?

DH: Oh, I've played around with it, and I can't say that I've read all of the commentary on exactly what it would take, so yes and no. Somewhere in between. I have some idea, but it's not as though I can with confidence say, Here is what it would take and lay it all out.

HD: I've heard some commentary to the effect that it could not possibly happen, that the things that would have to happen are logically inconsistent somehow, and that the Scarlet Knights need to resign themselves to not being in the championship game.

DH: First of all, the Scarlet Knights need to get by West Virginia, and they will surely be an underdog against West Virginia, and to think, Oh well, they're run the table, that's just, I think, very unlikely. Now, of course, somebody will emerge from the Ohio State-Michigan game undefeated. So somebody is going to be in the national championship game that comes out of that. And it's not so far-fetched to think that the loser of that game might very well play Rutgers in the Rose Bowl, if in fact Rutgers can win the rest of their games.

HD: So if Michigan wound up in the Rose Bowl against Rutgers, is that something that you would scramble to find a ticket for?

DH: Well, I'm not going to go out to the west coast, but I certainly would not miss it.

HD: Well, you're an awfully good sport to come over and teeter totter in the rain. And I actually wanted to continue with the sporting theme by way of working into your personal area of academic interest. So specifically that focuses on the moral limits of criminal sanction?

DH: Right.

HD: So football, for example, has a criminal code of sorts in that it has a rule set which tells you how to assess penalties. So first of all, before we get too far, do you think it's a fair comparison to say the rules of football that describe the various penalties and the infractions that cause them to be assessed, that could serve as a stand-in for our societal criminal code?

DH: Yeeaah, although of course, what you can never lose sight of, and is easy to forget, because it's not always at the surface, is that the criminal law also applies on the football field as well. It sort of underlies everything. There is no criminal-law-free zone and a football field is not such a zone. If, for example, one player were to pull out a gun and shoot another player on the football field, well, that would be just as much a crime as it would be if it happened in a bar, or anywhere else ...

HD: ... it would also be a personal foul, 15-yard penalty.

DH: 15-year penalty, yeah. Probably, I imagine the player would be suspended for two or three games? And in some sports--I'm not aware of this happening in football recently--but it has happened in hockey recently, where fouls were so flagrant ...

HD: ... that they were charged with assault or something?

DH: Yeah, with actual criminal conduct. I'm sure it's happened in football, too, I'm just not aware of it offhand.

HD: I'm thinking specifically of the facemask penalty as it might relate to this so-called notion of the act requirement. So the facemask penalty comes actually in two varieties, the one variety that's the flagrant personal foul that gets you a 15-yard mark-off, versus the incidental or inadvertent variety, which basically, if your hand is on the facemask--we don't care how it got there--that's a 5-yard penalty. So in reading the draft of that paper you presented recently, it occurred to me that that quite possibly the face-mask penalty in football might serve to illuminate this principle of the act requirement. It seems to me that in the one kind of foul, the act requirement is satisfied, but in the other, the minor one, it isn't.

DH: Interesting. Well, that's a pretty thoughtful observation. I would imagine that the act requirement is satisfied in either case, and that the distinction is not one that has to do with the act, but with the culpability of the actor. So acts are supposed to be the physical, outward manifestation of crime. And, of course, crime also includes a mental, inner component--mens rea is the bad Latin that's used. For example, any homicide requires a killing, which is an act that causes death. What differentiates one from homicide from another--murder from manslaughter--is what's going on inside the head of the killer. And I would think that's how you differentiate between the 15-yard and the 5-yard penalty. I take it the 15-yard face-mask penalty is deliberate, so you're trying to grab the facemask or something very much like that, whereas inadvertent is the 5-yard penalty. I wouldn't think that inadvertent acts are not acts. They're simply not deliberate acts. The act requirement is meant to rule out as acts things that aren't acts, not inadvertent acts. But things like spasms, ticks--there's all kinds of behaviors or movements that probably aren't acts at all. There are interesting cases in criminal law, more beloved by professors than by students, in which criminal conduct occurs despite the fact that the defendant is probably not acting at all. And those are the kinds of cases that make for interesting commentary. That's the philosopher in me, writing about that stuff. It's not everyday stuff. Maybe it makes its way to Law & Order, I don't know! There are famous cases in which drivers have had epileptic seizures while driving, and no one would say that the movements you make while having a seizure are actions. I mean, at least I wouldn't think that, but ...

HD: ... but if you didn't take your medication that you were supposed to take to prevent seizures, then maybe you're still culpable?

DH: Right, that's interesting how all that works. Those are interesting cases. There are sort of Jekyll and Hyde cases, too. Now the Jekyll and Hyde case is a case, I take it, in which Dr. Jekyll knows exactly what the potion he takes is going to do to him. It's going to turn him into this homicidal Mr. Hyde and in fact it's probably orchestrated, that is, he takes the potion in order to become this monster, whereas the person who doesn't take his epilectic medication presumably is not failing to take it in order to become someone who, behind the wheel of a car, loses control. You can imagine a case like that, but probably that's not really what happens in any actual case.

HD: So do you watch Law & Order?

DH: No, never seen it.

HD: But it's kind of hard actually, not to be aware of various television shows, because that just becomes a part of all the other media. Now, I was thinking back to the incidental face-mask penalty. You could maybe make the case that your hand winds up in physical proximity to the other player's facemask, that that maybe doesn't qualify as an act so much as a state of affairs that evolved--maybe not through your own actions. So maybe another offensive player actually blocked you in such a manner, so that your hand came to be there ...

DH: ... fair enough! Yeah, interesting! Good!

HD: So as I understand the rule, though, you're not [as an official] supposed to worry about intent. If the hand gets there, by whatever means, we don't care whether you intended it to be there or just the external circumstances, other players or whatnot, caused it to be there, that's a penalty no matter what.

DH: Well, that's interesting. I don't know whether that's actually the right way to interpret the rule. I've never seen such a case--I mean I watch football and obviously you do, too--but imagine a case in which a player on the same team were to somehow grab a hold of your hand and put it on the facemask of a player on his own team, in order to get you to have a penalty. Now, of course, that would be a penalty on him, so there's no reason why he would do that. But imagine a case like that. I can't believe that would be a penalty on you, if in fact you didn't put your hand there, it was put there by someone else. I mean it's a bizarre case, again, but you certainly can imagine it. And I take it that that would clearly not be an act, and I doubt if that would incur a penalty. Presumably, you have to put your hand in the other guy's facemask. You don't have to do it deliberately, but still it's got to be your act. Or imagine a player who literally had a seizure on the field. I guess you could have a seizure on the field--I mean I've never seen it--but I don't see why an epileptic who hadn't taken his medicine couldn't have a seizure on the field, and in the course of his seizure, he winds up with his hand in the other guy's facemask. Would that be a penalty? I just don't know, maybe it would be. It's so wacky.

HD: Well, I think maybe we've exhausted the possibility for football metaphors and the act requirement. But another area--I take it this is not going to be your area of specific academic interest--but Prop 2 passing. Part of the reason it was even on the ballot had to do with a U of M Law School admissions case. I sort of figure that would have been very much a topic of conversation over at the Law School?

DH: Yes!

HD: So in the hallways, lounges, whatever. I was wondering what your sense of that was? The kind of conversation more so than what you think about Affirmative Action per se?

DH: Well, the conversation immediately went to what lawful procedures are available to circumvent the intent of the proposition. That is, the proposition makes into law a certain state of affairs, and then the talk around the law school is how the law school could bring about diversity without running afoul of the law. So, what kinds of means there are to bring about the result that Prop 2 is meant to block, without running afoul of Prop 2?

HD: So even before Prop 2 was voted on, that was the focus?

DH: No, myself, I didn't hear any discussion of it, except people said there was such a thing. I didn't hear much more than that. As you pointed out, the [UM] law school has been a real focus of a lot of this debate about diversity and Affirmative Action and so-called reverse discrimination, whatever you want to call it. That's been an ongoing topic in society generally and in academia in particular for a very long time--I'm going to say at least 35 years and possibly even longer. And people get very polarized on that issue. Frankly, it's not the polarizing issue it was ten, twenty years ago, I think, but it's still an issue about which people have strong feelings.

HD: So the Rutgers Law School, is there an Affirmative Action component to the admissions process?

DH: In the Law School? The law school at Rutgers is not in the league of the law school at Michigan. This is an outstanding law school and unfortunately, Rutgers is not. And I'm a huge critic of the Rutgers Law School. One of the things that they do right, I am happy to say--in my opinion it's right anyway--is they do a great job in fostering diversity in the student body and really care about that, and work hard at it and do an excellent job. That's probably the thing they do best in the whole law school.

HD: Is there anything specific you'd point to as to how they actually do the 'fostering'?

DH: Well they try very hard to recruit very good minorities, and then they monitor and help them in all kinds of ways. Of course, some of the whites are quite upset about the help that blacks get. I mean they still have to take the same tests that everyone else takes, and they're graded anonymously. So, the standards aren't different. But there are whole institutions that exist in order to mentor and assist and tutor minorities, that aren't available to whites, and that again causes some conflict. But at least that's the reality of the situation and it seems to me to work pretty well.

HD: Is there anything you can identify as a general difference between students you're teaching here at U of M versus the students at Rutgers?

DH: Well, I'm in the philosophy department at Rutgers. Full time. And I teach in the law school from time to time, but I'm actually full time and my paperwork says I'm full time in the philosophy department. I only teach in the law school occasionally. And there's a good reason for that. Rutgers has, arguably, the best philosophy department in the world. There may be one better. But by any measure, Rutgers is the best or the second-best philosophy department in the world. Whereas the law school is, out of maybe 183 accredited law schools, maybe it's about 60th. So upper third isn't bad, but it's not world-class. Now Michigan Law School is by most rankings about 6th or 7th or 8th, maybe the best public law school in the country, probably neck-and-neck with Berkeley. The students here in the law school are just better. I mean there is not a student at Rutgers who wouldn't love to get into the law school here. Students here are smarter, they're harder-working, they're just better.

HD: Do you notice that specifically in the classroom?

DH: Absolutely.

HD: Like they're just more inclined to participate with intelligent comments in class? The quality of their participation, or just their willingness to say something in class?

DH: No, no, I mean there's little correlation between your ability and your willingness to blurt something out. So it's not that as though they're more aggressive or less reticent, that's not the difference. They're just more well-prepared and smarter. If you're making conceptual distinctions, you can do it in a much short period of time. People get things a lot more quickly here, they're just better, they're just smarter. What does that mean? I don't know if it's innate or if it's a product of hard work, whatever makes one person smarter than another, in the kind of skills you need to be good in law school. I mean, maybe they're not as smart in other kinds of things, in music or what-have-you, but the kinds of skill needed for success in law school, the students here have more of them.

HD: I'm wondering, again in the context of a sports metaphor, if you think about admitting students with a certain amount of pre-existing talent, skills, knowledge, what-have-you, it's similar to when you're recruiting football players, you know you want to recruit the best and strongest athletes, some people who've got some experience playing football on the high school level, for example. And I'm wondering how much the quality of an institution really depends on the quality of the students that you're admitting, as opposed to the institution's ability to be transformative. The difference between having a winning record because you've got the best athletes, versus because you've got the best coach.

DH: That's interesting.

HD: In light of Proposition 2, for example, it seems to me that there's a straightforward way for the University of Michigan-- for its undergraduate admissions process--to go to a purely merit-based system, that would give you an undergraduate population that was every bit as diverse as the graduating high school population here in the state of Michigan. And that would be to simply make the admissions requirement a high school diploma from an accredited Michigan high school. Then out of that pool, those who were actually interested in attending the University of Michigan, you'd simply do a lottery. Now the quality of your admitted student body under such a system, may be different, and legitimately I think you'd have to say less good. But I wonder what your reaction would be, if Rutgers were to go to such a system. Would you say, Well, fine, that'll test how good we are as a transformative institution, we're taking a different set raw talent, let's just see how good we can make them. I mean, it be like you said to Lloyd Carr, Okay, all these people, they can at least walk without falling down, so make a football team out of them, let's see how good a coach are you really?

DH: This is to only partly to address the question, but it is interesting if you think about the criteria used to decide whether one institution is better than another. One of the main criteria has to do with the caliber of the students they admit. Ironically, that has nothing to do with how good the institution is once the students get there! I mean that's something that's all said and done, the book is closed, when the students walk in the first day. The institution can be horrible and do nothing for these students and they can graduate knowing no more than they knew when they came in, yet people think the institution is very very good. Which is very peculiar to think that. What the institution does for the student is irrelevant in figuring out how good the institution is, and that's part of what, I take it, motivates your question. Now, beyond that, just what I think of a system like that? Well, it would be interesting to see how transformative you could be. On the other hand, you want a student body you can work with, and that is able, and is up to speed in reading and writing. You give them assignments to read and write, and they're going to have to be able to make sense of them, and the better the skills they have when they come in, the more fun they are to work with, the more you can expect them to achieve. And of course there are institutions that do accept virtually anyone who applies with a high school degree, so you're not describing an imaginary institution. There are plenty of such institutions in the United States. I'd say it's pretty hard to be a high school graduate and not be able to get into any college anywhere in the United States. And so there are institutions that do that, and there are institutions that don't. I'm personally happy to be in one that doesn't. One reason, again, is that students that aren't very likely to be able to get admitted to a place like this probably are not very good at reading and writing. Hopefully, as a faculty guy, you want to be able to do more than teach people to do things that they should have been doing back in 8th grade. The stuff that people read in philosophy or law, it's pretty tough going. The only way you get better at reading is by reading. It's no different from anything else. You can't be a good football player without practicing, and you can't be a good musician without playing, and you can't be a good reader without reading. And so the problem today--it's well known--is that people don't read as much as they did 20, 30, 40, 80 years ago. So people are not as good at it as they used to be. And you want that percentage of the population that still is good.

HD: Do you think that people are writing more instead of reading? My general impression is that people write a lot more. It's much easier to write a lot now, I think, with electronic support.

DH: There's got to be data on this. I mean, you can conjecture and just guess, and my guess is that you're mistaken about that. I think people probably write a lot less. Reading and writing both are done less than they were. Now, since when are you talking about? 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago? I mean, my God, think of the letters that people wrote during the Civil War or something back home. I don't know, it's not like I've made a study of this, but some of them are awfully good.

HD: Just as an aside, have you ever been over to I think it's the Bentley Library [Ed. note: It's the Clements Library HD means], they have a collection, and they will show you and let you touch and feel and read actual Civil War letters written by Michigan soldiers back home to their families, and it's fascinating stuff. The penmanship, for one thing, is just exquisite. I mean, you've got to imagine this soldier who's writing with God-knows-what kind of pen and ink, in foxhole somewhere, and the lines are just perfectly straight and every letter perfectly formed.

DH: Right, right. So my guess is that people write a good deal less than they did a century ago or even 20 years ago. I'm sure you could find that out without too much trouble if you wanted to take the time.

HD: I wanted to ask you something about your own writing and maybe your own writing style. This draft of a paper--as I understand, it was a draft of a paper you were going to be presenting orally--so naturally it had more of a conversational or casual tone maybe than what you'd submit to an academic journal or?

DH: I do write in a different style when I present something orally. But that paper was only summarized. This is the format for most academic conferences today: you attach a paper than it then circulated to everyone on the listserv or whatever it's called and they're expected to read it and usually do. Every now and again you find someone who hasn't, but if you're going to go to a conference, you're probably going to read the papers ahead of time, and the author stands up and summarizes--sometimes as little as five minutes sometimes as long as 20 minutes--what he had to say. And then people right away start asking questions and there's a discussion. The format used to be the that author used to actually present the paper at the conference, because circulating it ahead of time was technologically much more difficult than today.

HD: So it would be considered poor form then, to show up at a conference nowadays and present the paper as if no one had read it before by just reading it aloud or something?

DH: Right.

HD: So I wanted to read aloud, though, just one little passage from that paper: "A second example reveals a related difficulty. Consider two persons, Dave and Eric in possession of marijuana. Dave's acquisition of marijuana was performed knowingly. Eric's was not ..." And then it goes on from there. See, I picked right up on that passage and I'm wondering how you go about choosing names?

DH: Funny you would mention that. Dave and Eric happen to be two of my best friends. So I don't recall specifically, and in fact I hadn't remembered that passage until you just read it to me, but I almost always use names of people I happen to know. Without actually recalling this, that must be what I did in that case. You know, you picked up on this paper [on the act requirement], but my real specialty is in the intersection of criminal law and drug policy. Drug policy is my real specialty and it is the area of the criminal law that I work on with the most ...

HD: ... fervor?

DH: ... fervor, yeah. It's a kind of a crusade of mine. It's the kind of thing where I feel strongly about it dispassionately, intellectually, but also you would hope that people care about things like justice and all that. I get to my interest in drug policy and keep it going, because I really care about justice and I think that American drug policy is incredibly unjust, which is a conclusion a lot of people have reached. I think the way I reach it might be a little different from what most people do. Nonetheless, it strikes me as a horrible sort of thing. As an academic, there's not a whole lot that one person can do to change the world, but you try to do what you can.

HD: So could you summarize the way you reach your conclusion as contrasted, say with the 16-year-old kid who says, Well, I should be able to smoke pot, cuz I should be able to do whatever I want, dude.

DH: Okay, there are maybe three different perspectives on this. One is, I call this the Libertarian perspective. I ought to be able to do whatever I want to do with my body, and drugs are put in my body, and my body is mine, and so the law shouldn't tell me what to do with my body. Of course, there's something to that. But I tend to be pretty critical of that way of thinking. I think what you should be allowed to do with your body is pretty much a function of what happens to your body and how others are affected by what you do with your body. So the fact that it's your body counts for something, but in my way of thinking not a whole lot, and not as much as the Libertarians think. So there's that way of going about the issue. I tend to fight the Libertarians, because they reach conclusions similar to mine, but on different grounds. For them, it's all very simple. They don't care about what drugs do. They don't need to know anything about drugs. This is a drug, this is your body, the drug goes into your body, end of story. That's all there is to it. So if you thought that's all there is to it, you wouldn't need to distinguish one drug from another, or have any interest in pharmacology or what drugs do, and I think you need to know those things. So that's one perspective. Then there's a perspective--policy types, economists, they've reached the conclusion, which I also think is true, but isn't something I get a lot of mileage out of either--which is that drug policy does not work very well, it's counterproductive and ineffective. Ineffective, because you cannot, in a free society, prevent people from using drugs. We've tried that for 40 years or more. We haven't really made much progress in achieving that aim. Drugs have the same price, more or less, as before, which is an indication that you're not really doing much to affect supply and demand. Moreover, your attempts to prevent drug use, not only don't they work very well, but they're actually counterproductive, they do more harm than good. And then you've got a story to tell about all the harm they do and then you often tell stories that make the prohibition of drugs somewhat like the prohibition of alcohol, organized crime, all kinds of effects that are a byproduct of your misguided attempt to prohibit drugs. Just on economic grounds, it makes little sense to do something unless what you're doing works, and doesn't do more harm than good. I think those things are true as well. But I'm more a guy that looks at principles. I am interested in matters of criminalization. What counts as a good reason to prohibit anything? You've got your standards as to what counts as a good reason to prevent anyone from doing anything at all, so, Why any criminal laws? And surely some criminal laws are good ideas, and you try to figure out why, and you develop a set of criteria, and you eventually refine those criteria, and then you start applying them to problematic crimes, cases where reasonable minds can differ. No one wants to decriminalize murder, but there is a debate on whether prostitution, obscenity, and there's a lot of areas of the law where people are divided. Reasonable people have different points of view. And I think if you apply criteria of criminalization to the drug context, I just don't see that there are good reasons to prohibit drugs. And by 'drugs' I mean any drug--I can't think of any drug that I've ever heard of that I'd want to criminalize the use of or the possession of. And the reason I've reached that conclusion is because I don't think any reasons to criminalize them are good enough. So in a way, the way I approach these decriminalization arguments is by asking the other side to go first. I mean, Tell me why you think we should prohibit! Because surely, the default position is to allow people to do what they want, unless there's a good reason to intervene. You don't want to punish people for no reason, no one thinks that. So if you're going to punish people for using drugs, there had better be a reason. Let's hear it. And so you put the ball in the court of the prohibitionist. He's going to tell you why you should punish people for using--pick a drug, heroin, marijuana, cocaine, whatever--and he's going to tell you why, and then the debate has to do with whether that's good enough reason. And my own perspective is: I've never yet heard a good enough reason to punish anyone for using any drug. I'm not saying that no one could ever come up with such a reason--the notorious problem of proving the negative--but I've been at this for a very long time and I haven't heard one yet. So that's where I come from on the drug issue.

HD: Is the Hash Bash on your calendar for this spring?

DH: I don't know, is it still worthwhile? I know it was a notorious event and I'm told now it's kind of not what it's used to be.

HD: You notice that it's happening--well, I should say this, I notice that it's happening, because you see a lot of people walking down the street who sort of look like they need directions, sometimes I have that look myself. But I think the days of the Diag being just packed with people may be over. I think it depends year to year on the weather a lot. On a day like today, you just wouldn't get a lot of participation.

DH: Right. It's interesting the whole politics of what-have-you. There was a time when unpopular wars would be protested quite visibly. And you get some of that in Ann Arbor, but not too much of that outside of Ann Arbor. Even though this is a very unpopular war, the groundswell of opposition is not as prominent as it was with previous unpopular wars. Take something like drug policy, which is unpopular among a sizeable percentage of the American population. Well, they don't do much about it. Ann Arbor might have something that isn't what it used to be, Boulder, Colorado, might have something that isn't what it used to be, Berkeley, California, or for all I know, a handful of other places. But you just don't get political movements that are as visible as you used to in anything as far as I can tell.

HD: Emails and other electronic means, I think, are pretty invisible as a way. You don't see it out there in the world. That's actually something that I'm interested in, in terms of online culture as far as emails, blogs, electronic communication what have you. It's very easy to sit down at a keyboard and spew forth into the electronic atmosphere, into the ether. What's not so easy is to translate that activity into something that has a visible impact in the physical world. Which is not to say it's impossible, there's examples of bloggers around here doing that. Teeter Talk, part of what it's about is to explore this tension between the physical world and the electronic. The means of publication is electronic, but in order for it to happen, there's an actual event that has to happen in the physical world: someone has to actually come over to the house and get on the end of a teeter totter opposite from me. So I guess that's my perspective on that. Since you brought up Ann Arbor per se and what's happening in Ann Arbor as opposed to anywhere else, what's your take on Ann Arbor, just from the perspective of a visitor in town for a year? Is there anything that really surprises you about what you've found, or maybe something that that's just really intensely disappointing to you? That you were counting on there being X, Y, Z, and it's just not here?

DH: I knew very little about Ann Arbor before I came. It's got a reputation, of course, and as an academic, Ann Arbor has a famous university so you couldn't help but know a bit about it. But I'd spent almost no time here. I never set foot inside the law school until my first day of teaching there, and so forth and so on. And I think Ann Arbor is in many ways a really great little town. One of the things that I think is puzzling is why other towns can't be more like Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor has done a very good job in ways that are just not obvious to visitors. The fact that you can walk around downtown and you don't see chains of McDonalds or Burger Kings--I mean, Starbucks is here, it's not as though it's totally devoid of chains and so forth--but it's got a downtown, that I think is really very interesting. Unlike most places where four out of every five stores, you wouldn't want to go in, because they just don't have anything that would interest you. Practically every store is a place that I think is interesting, and is the kind of place that I'm interested in. And others like me [are interested in as well], I hope. It's a town that works very well. It's a town in which there is public transportation that I guess works fairly well. It's a place where you can walk from one place to another, I haven't used a half a tank of gas since I've been here over two months ...

HD: ... have you actually tried riding the bus?

DH: I haven't yet taken them, because the weather's been good enough to walk. I'm sure I will use the buses when it gets dismal. Of course, that's one of the well-known problems with Ann Arbor is the weather in the winter.

HD: You walked over here, I know. Do you actually walk all the way in to the law school?

DH: Yeah, every day, five days a week. I walk to the law school and back. It's about a mile and a quarter, that's my guess. I haven't actually measured it, but you sort of have an idea of how long it takes you to walk.

HD: You typically go straight up Liberty?

DH: I take different ways. I don't go way out of the way, but for the first 20 trips I tried to make sure I walked a little bit on a different street than what I had taken the day before. There's only so many ways to do it, unless you really want to take an out-of-the-way route. Sometimes on a day like today--it's not a very nice day today--so I took what I think probably is the most direct route. You wind up on Packard quite a bit. Somehow you get on Ashley and take Ashley to Packard. Or maybe Main Street to Packard and then it's a nice diagonal to the law school, more or less.

HD: Anything else on your mind today?

DH: Let's see, the only other thing to say about Ann Arbor is it's a very homogenous community, I think. It's not as diverse as the places I've lived in the past. And like so many things, that's both its strength and its weakness. Everybody is--and when I say 'like me', obviously there's a lot of room for all kinds there--but it's not like the United Nations, walking around parts of New Jersey or New York and you really feel as though you could be almost anywhere and you see people from almost all over the world. There's a good deal less of that here. People here tend to be more alike than they are in most of the places I've lived. And in some ways that's good and in some ways that's bad. So that's one thing about Ann Arbor, that I guess with a little thought I could have anticipated, but I hadn't anticipated it. So, in a way, I miss that, but on the other hand my best friends are, not surprisingly, like me. So it's both a gain and a loss.

HD: We'll let that be the final word. Thanks for coming to teeter totter!

DH: Well, it's great, I think it's wonderful what you're doing, and I'm so glad you had me!