Today's Safire Column

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Sun Sep 26 15:52:14 UTC 1999

Some of you may have seen today's "On Language" column by William Safire
in the New York Times Magazine.  In that column Safire writes about the
origins of the term "guilt by association" and refers to my finding a 1922
judicial opinion using that term (antedating the OED's 1941 first use).

I just wanted to note here that, because it is difficult to do thorough
research on short deadline, I did not find until too late to help Safire
that "guilt by association" is used several times in Zechariah Chafee's
1920 book, Freedom of Speech.  This might represent the coinage of the

I also want to note that Safire's conjecture that "guilt by
association" probably appears in a 1920 decision by Federal Judge George
Weston Anderson proves to be untrue.  The case in question, Colyer v.
Skeffington, does not employ the term.

Fred R. Shapiro                             Coeditor (with Jane Garry)
Associate Librarian for Public Services     TRIAL AND ERROR: AN OXFORD
  and Lecturer in Legal Research            ANTHOLOGY OF LEGAL STORIES
Yale Law School                             Oxford University Press, 1998
e-mail: fred.shapiro at               ISBN 0-19-509547-2

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