msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 11/16/2011 1:16:43 PM ET 2011-11-16T18:16:43

A Massachusetts law professor criticized as "shameful" plans by colleagues to collect care packages for U.S. troops, saying current support for the military was "not particularly rational."

Professor Michael Avery, a specialist in constitutional law at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, also questioned why the institution had an "oversized flag" in its lobby, according to an internal email whose contents were disclosed by a city radio station on Thursday.

"I think it is shameful that it is perceived as legitimate to solicit in an academic institution for support for men and women who have gone overseas to kill other human beings," he wrote in the email, which was republished in full on the website of 96.9FM Boston Talks radio host Michael Graham.

“The United States may well be the most war prone country in the history of civilization," he added.

His comments were dismissed by Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., who told the Boston Herald on Monday: “I returned from Afghanistan recently. I know how much our troops value hearing from friends, neighbors, loved ones and even anonymous well-wishers who appreciate the job they are doing.

"It’s sad there are still some people who fail to appreciate the selfless sacrifice of our military, but it makes me angry when they openly campaign to deprive our troops of the love and support they deserve."

He continued: “I wish Professor Avery could witness for himself the joy that a small gift can bring to a soldier, especially around the holidays."

Calls to Prof. Avery were being automatically routed to the public affairs office of the law school on Wednesday, and that the department did not immediately respond to inquiries from msnbc.com.

However, a statement from Acting President and university Provost Barry Brown said the law school had a history of defending "freedom of expression."

The message, published on the institution's website, said: "We respect the right of our faculty members to exercise academic freedom and support all members of our community in speaking freely and expressing their opinions."

It added: "Along with our support of freedom of expression, Suffolk University has a long and proud history of supporting our men and women who have served their country in the armed forces through many programs and community outreach."

Prof. Avery's email, which came in response to a campus-wide message asking for care packages, added: "Why do we continue to have this oversized flag in our lobby?  Why are we sending support to the military instead of Americans who are losing their homes, malnourished, unable to get necessary medical care, and suffering from other consequences of poverty?"

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