Friday, December 23, 2011

Coffee v. Romano, Redux

With regard to the update to yesterday's post, Professor Romano (Yale) writes:

For the record, the copy of the paper that Jack Coffee distributed at the conference (the day of the conference by the way, and not in advance, in contrast to the other papers and what his statement might suggest), which is the only copy I have, is not the same as the one that he sent you. (Jack Coffee did not send me another copy as he states nor did I email him to request a copy: I emailed him when I returned home from the conference on Oct. 28 to say that, given that my work was the object of his critique, as I assumed that discussion would not be deleted in a future version, I was going to discuss his conference presentation in a paper I was writing on emergency legislation and sunsets, without quoting or citing the paper, although if it was okay with him I would quote or cite the paper, as the paper stated it should not be cited or quoted without the author’s permission; he responded that he would not insist that I not quote or refer to it, but that it would be much revised). The footnote numbered 1 on your blog just says, in my copy, “cite Ribstein, Bainbridge, Butler.” There is no footnote with the textual content of footnotes 1, 2 and 3 that you quote. And there is a second sentence that refers to “Professor Romano and her Tea Party allies” (although that sentence is not footnoted). In addition the text of the paragraph that you quote differs, apart from the first sentence and the second sentence up to “professors ,” saying nothing about the content of any one’s key themes or views (nor is that three-point description to be found in the draft I have), with the Tea Party reference as a throwaway line, but that difference is not important. I have no idea what Jack Coffee’s current draft says, but that is beside the point, because the paper that I saw was distributed at a conference attended by what I think was over 60 people, consisting of academics, practitioners, regulators, and members of the business and investment community. I don’t think the number of times or pages on which a label, which is widely considered insulting in academic circles, is used renders the use appropriate in serious work – it is designed to delegitimize an argument by attacking the credibility of the speaker rather than the merits of the argument. That is a textbook communications strategy (e.g., Severin & Tankard, Communication Theories, 5th ed., p.139). I had and have no objection to his criticizing the merits of my arguments; I address those in my paper.

I thank Professor Romano for permission to post her comments, which I think are useful to include for the sake of completeness.  

ADDENDUM:  Professor Coffee asked that I post the following on his behalf, which I am happy to do:  "Given that we are at Christmass Eve, I would like to close off this dialogue by clearly expressing my view  that Professors Romano, Bainbridge and Ribstein are all highly creative and original scholars (with whom I sometimes, but not always, disagree strongly).  Professor Romano is quite correct that my Cornell paper  as of the conference date had many incomplete or missing footnotes.  To that charge, I do plead guilty.   Seasons Greetings to all."   I think that's an appropriate note on which to end, and I thank both Professors Coffee and Romano for weighing in.

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