Monday, March 08, 2010

Dan Pollitt: He loved to argue

If you've paid attention to the major social controversies for the last half-century or so in North Carolina, chances are you're familiar with the name of Dan Pollitt, a law professor at UNC Chapel Hill and one of the most aggressively outspoken champions for free speech, the little guy and individual rights of our times. He was also the standard by which liberals were often measured, and he seemed to relish a good fight. He'd smile and tell a good story, too, but you could tell he loved to argue.

Pollitt, spouse of state Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, died Friday in Chapel Hill at the age of 88. Anne Blythe had a story on him here.

The short take is that he had one of the most interesting careers of anyone I've known in public life. He was a Marine who fought in the South Pacific, where he was awarded two Purple Hearts, one of them occurred in a fight with a Japanese soldier where Pollitt was armed with a canteen, of all unlikely weapons. He practices with Joe Rauh and often represented clients before the notorious House Unamerican Activities Committee before coming to UNC in 1957.

Taylor Sisk of The Independent had a terrific long-form story on him in 2000. I can't get the link on the story to work consistently, but if you Google "Taking Liberties: Dan Pollitt unfashionably defends 'free speech, nude dancing, the works,' published March 15, 2000, you should find the piece.

One Pollitt story I had never heard, also related in the Indy's story, was his role in the recruiting of basketball star Charlie Scott to Chapel Hill back n the late 1960s. Pollitt was, as his obituary in the N&O noted, an outspoken advocate of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Holden Beach and the Tar Heels.


Anonymous said...

Here is the link to the Indy column on Dan Pollitt:

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