Editor, San Francisco Chronicle:

You claim in an editorial, June 9, 2004, that Academic Freedom commands to let a professor advocating the usage of torture teach future lawyers and judges at Boalt Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. The same professor, when employed by the US government Justice department, on leave from UC Berkeley, also advocated the usage of torture, by the USA, throughout the world. This policy was implemented, both by the US itself, and by proxies. It is interesting to realize that even the Nazis did not sink so low. The Nazis were terrible, but, at least they had enough decency left in them to know it would look too bad if they advocated in public the torture they were doing behind closed doors. Mr. Yoo maybe a tenured professor in law at UC Berkeley, but his public advocacy of violence would have been too much for the Nazi Third Reich. What is next, from the likes of Mr Yoo? Will the San Francisco Chronicle soon advocate the use of extermination camps, and deplore the reservations the Europeans are sure to have about refurbishing the celebrated Auschwitz death camp?

You confuse freedom of expression and anything-goes. "Academic Freedom" gives nobody - not even a tenured UC Berkeley Professor- an unfettered right to advocate, promulgate, and incite criminal behavior. Charles Manson is still in prison for that.

Torture has long been unlawful in the advanced countries of the West. We call that the advancement of civilization. After the war, a lot of German thinkers, many of them tenured professors, were forbidden to teach, as part of the de-Nazification campaign. The famous part time Nazi philosopher Heidegger was one of them. The Allies were well aware that Nazism was a rotting of the mind which pervaded the entire German educational system. Preventing barbarity to express itself further was highly successful, and new German generations had no fascism left in them. This would not have occured if all the Nazi professors had kept teaching.

It is worrisome to see so many people in the US ready to throw away Western civilization in the name of defending it. Barbarity with a US face is still barbary, and barbarity is easier to attack than to defend. In which case, the likes of Mr Yoo would not just be traitors to civilization, but also would be betraying the best defense of the USA, which includes being morally correct.

Patrice Ayme'