Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

The ickiness factor and beyond at Northwestern U

The sex toy publicly induced orgasm at Northwestern University seems to be getting even more bizarre.

Initially, the Northwestern administration issued a statement indicating there was no problem with the classroom demonstration.   Then the President of NW states he is disturbed by the event and orders an investigation.

The professor J. Michael Bailey initially indicated that there was no reason to apologize and then issues an apology but states there is no reason for said apology.

Professor Bailey stated the following-

“Those who believe that there was, in fact, a serious problem have had considerable opportunity to explain why: in their numerous media stories on the controversy, or in their various correspondences with me…But they have failed to do so. Saying that the demonstration ‘crossed the line,’ ‘went too far,’ ‘was inappropriate’ or was ‘troubling’ convey disapproval but do not illuminate reasoning.

If I were grading the arguments against what occurred, most would earn an ‘F.’

Yes, but maybe the University’s investigation will find out what the basis of the disapproval may be; may find out why the President of the University was so disturbed.

Clearly, the University seems to be oblivious to the Supreme Court decision last week regarding the usage of hateful and degrading rhetoric at military funerals by members of the so-called Westboro Church. In that decision, Chief Justice Roberts stated: “Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears, of both joy and sorrow- as it did here- inflict great pain.  We cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.”

The dankprofessor accepts the notion that the post classroom orgasm demonstration falls under the mantle of  the Supreme Court’s protected speech.  The orgasm demonstration does not come close to promulgating anything relating to hate and degradation.  And those in attendance at the demonstration were their by their own freedom of choice; they were not forced to endure anything like those who were subject to the rantings of the Westboro cadre.

And as Professor Bailey states those demanding some type of redress never state what was the nature of the problem other than embracing the notion that it was in bad taste.

And the dankprofessor asks is bad taste an adequate reason for banning and/or investigating anything at a university that embraces a liberal arts education?  Certainly a discussion and examination of what constitutes bad taste may be of some educational value.  But basing action on the belief that something represents bad taste should be given no consideration.

Or putting it in other terms, the “icky” factor may be a reality.  But ickiness should not be the basis for a President of any university issuing formal statements and calling for an investigation.

But then again, some student could yell sexual harassment, could feel that a hostile learning environment was created, could feel that one did not engage in informed consent as to what was to occur.  Such would trump issues of freedom of speech, issues of taste. Such could very well occur given the nature of  the modern university in contemporary America.

March 6, 2011 - Posted by | higher education, Northwestern University, sex, sex toys, speech

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