Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss are lashing out at Larry Summers after the former Harvard president poked fun at them during an interview on Tuesday and called them “assholes.”
In a letter to current Harvard President Drew Faust, the twins complain about Summers’ “scorn for a genuine discourse on deeper ethical questions.” That and that Summers didn't shake their hands.
Summers made headlines (on blogs, anyway) when he told an interviewer that the twins struck him as arrogant and swaggering when he met with them in 2004. The Winklevosses approached Summers to make the case that Zuckerberg stole their idea for Facebook, breaching Harvard's honor code.
"One of the things you learn as a college president is that if an undergraduate is wearing a tie and jacket on Thursday afternoon at three o'clock, there are two possibilities. One is that they're looking for a job and have an interview; the other is that they are an asshole," Summers said. "This was the latter case."
Summers was responding to a question from an interviewer about the accuracy of a scene depicting the meeting in the 2010 film The Social Network.
In their letter to Faust, the Winklevosses wrote:
His manner was not inconsistent with his reputation and present day admissions of being tactfully challenged. It was not his failure to shake hands with the three of us upon entering his office (doing so would have required him to take his feet off his desk and stand up from his chair), nor his tenor that was most alarming, but rather his scorn for a genuine discourse on deeper ethical questions, Harvard's Honor Code, and its applicability or lack thereof.
We now further understand why our meeting was less than productive; someone who does not value ethics with respect to his own conduct, would likely have little interest in this subject as it related to the conduct of others. Perhaps there is a "variability of aptitude" for decency and professionalism among university faculty.
It's worth noting that Summers isn't exactly a disinterested party in the dispute between Zuckerberg and the Winklevosses. He recently joined the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, which has investments in Facebook, as a special adviser.