Marianne Mele Hall, chairman of the Copyright Royalty Tribunal, "generally supported" a 1982 book that advanced a "jungle" thesis about black Americans, and she helped publish the book, despite expressing misgivings that portions might be "misunderstood by some people," according to her principal co-author.
Lawrence Hafstad, 81, the retired physicist whose book "Foundations of Sand" ignited a political controversy, said in an interview yesterday that Hall and a third co-author, John Morse, "indicated that there was a risk this chapter about blacks would be misunderstood."
"They were thinking more of the general public, and I was thinking of the group I was writing for -- my friends in the engineering community and in think tanks."
Hafstad said he made the final decision to include the chapter "The Minority Problem," which concludes that blacks "insist on preserving their jungle freedoms, their women, their avoidance of personal responsibility and their abhorrence of the work ethic."
The book has placed Hall at the center of a controversy that continued to grow yesterday. One of Hall's fellow copyright commissioners, Edward W. Ray, sharply criticized Hall's association with the book.
Meanwhile, nine House Democrats called for her resignation in one-minute speeches on the House floor, aimed primarily at the viewers of C-Span cable television across the country.
Hafstad yesterday called the outcry "a tempest in a teapot, because it's a few quotations taken out of context." Asked if he expected the reaction, he replied, "From stupid people, yes!"
Hafstad, formerly General Motors vice president for research, said the chapter about blacks "is deliberately set up as a thought experiment. It's a hypothesis. That's the way we operate in the hard sciences -- we set up a hypothesis, and it's up to the opponents to shoot it down and come up with something better. That's standard practice in the hard sciences; it's apparently revolutionary in the social sciences."
Hafstad's hypothesis is that the social sciences are built upon "foundations of sand," false premises and assumptions, and that social scientists therefore are unable to deal with what he sees as the signs of a "deteriorating society." He has particular disdain for sociologists, who he says in the book "put blacks on welfare so they can continue their jungle freedoms of leisure time and subsidized procreation."
Hall has tried to put distance between herself and the book. At first, when asked if she agreed with Hafstad's views, she said, "I'm not qualified to address concerns of a scientific nature." The next day she told a House subcommittee that she found the views "repugnant." One day later, she found them "inflamatory, explosive, repugnant and distasteful."
Hall's various explanations have failed to quell the criticism. Yesterday's speeches by House Democrats -- frustrated by Hall's refusal to step down and the White House's silence -- were aimed at keeping the issue alive for a second week while stirring emotions outside of Washington, staff members said.
Ray, a copyright commissioner since 1982, yesterday called the book "an utter piece of trash."
Ray, who is black, stopped short of calling for Hall to resign, saying, "That is a decision she and the White House will have to make." Asked if his working relationship with Hall has been affected, Ray said, "My relationship here with the other commissioners is in the formal, business context of the agency. I do not seek any social relationships with her."