Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Mass censorship at UC SanDiego

In response to a shut down of all student media at UC San Diego a Facebook group has been formed- 

Tell AS: Mass Censorship is NOT the Answer

The Facebok position statement follows.

In response to the recent string of racist events at UC San Diego, AS President Utsav Gupta, has recently put a moratorium on ALL media organizations.

What this means is that all 33 media organizations cannot have access to any of the funds they need to publish Spring Quarter. The hard work of hundreds of students is being denied because of the actions of a few.

Tell AS: mass censorship is not the answer. Punishing 33 organizations for the actions of one is neither fair nor productive. Media organizations on this campus represent a wide range of students, interests and opinions. They are a diverse set of publications that allow students to express their thoughts, opinions and creativity. Silencing this creative outlet WILL NOT solve the problems of racism, inequality and bigotry. If anything, it takes away outlets through which students can express their outrage at these problems.

You cannot promote diversity by eliminating creativity. You cannot solve racism by censoring the student voice.

The Associated Student president issued the following statement-

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dear UC San Diego,

Last night, a deeply offensive and hurtful program was aired on Student Run Television (SRTV), a service of the Associated Students. The content of this program does not represent the views of the Associated Students, and was aired by KoalaTV, the television show put on by the student organization The Koala. We condemn the actions of The Koala, its program and its content.

The Koala was not properly authorized to display content on SRTV. We are in the process of determining how the program was aired. In the meantime, as authorized by the ASUCSD Standing Rules, I have revoked the SRTV Charter for review. We will only open it again when we can be sure that such hateful content can never be aired again on our student funded TV station.

Alongside this initiative, I have frozen all student media organization funding. The Koala has long since been a controversial publication at UC San Diego and is primarily funded by our student fees. I do not believe we should continue funding this organization with our fees.

We must develop effective policies to ensure that our fees do not go to the support the hateful speech that targets members of our community. I ask that those media organizations that did nothing wrong and are unfairly affected to be patient until we can resolve this situation.

To this end, I have charged a campus-wide committee to review the funding of student media. This committee is open to every member of the UC San Diego community – faculty, staff, students, and whoever else feels strongly about this issue. The information about this the committee shall be posted to as.ucsd.edu in the next few days, or you may email me directly at aspresident@ucsd.edu if you’d like to obtain future email updates.

The Associated Students stands in solidarity with those affected by last night’s program, and we remain committed to being the voice for all UC San Diego students.

Utsav Gupta
Associated Students President

The Foundation for Indivudal Rights in Education has issued a statement highly critical of the shutting down of student media at UCSD

Click here for San Diego non-student coverage of the situation.

The dankprofessor wants to make it clear that the racial comments made by some UC students associated with the student media are dastardly.  Events at UCSD mocking Black History Month are also deeply offensive.  However, shutting down student media is deeply repugnant to the ethos of university life.  This is not Iran, people.  This is also not the deep south of the 1940s.  UCSD should deal with this in the context of a discourse characterized by civility, not censorship.

February 23, 2010 Posted by | censorship, higher education, racism, speech, UC San Diego | Leave a comment

Dealing with sexual intruders from the UK to the USA

The Independent of London has taken a strong stand against unnecessary and intrusive laws which regulate the sexual lives of the denizens of the UK.

What the Independent is concerned about is the continuing attempt in the UK  to ban extreme pornography.  Most immediately The Independent is concerned about the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act of 2008 which takes effect in less than a month.  Section 63 of this law prohibits pictures on the internet of someone having sex with a corpse as well as images of bestiality.

The Independent points out that-

The usual problems with such legislation are that in the first place the law is adopted in a mad hurry and is thus vague and unclear and, second, a set of general principles is wrongly deduced from truly exceptional circumstances.

With this law, the evidence of haste and a knee-jerk response to a specific event can be seen from the imprecise wording. As a result, the viewing of images of a number of practices that are legal, and which most people would consider acceptable if not exactly desirable behaviour between consenting adults, will become as illegal as viewing images of bestiality and necrophilia. All such viewers will have the same potential to be caught under the same dragnet.

Regrettably, the Government will probably get away with it. In these “on-message” days, no politician wants to be seen as the spokesperson for sexual freaks. A reputation for a partiality to bondage is not the way to boost the career of a junior minister or rising backbencher. And so a few more of our civil liberties are done away with – and the opportunities for police surveillance increased.

Ministers may even think they are on to a winner, by giving unpopular Sixties-style liberals a good drubbing – and a good dose of New Labour Puritanism at the same time. Well, perhaps so. It’s also possible that the Government’s obsession with regulating every aspect of peoples lives will rebound on it. We can only hope so, for the Government should beware of poking its long nose into people’s sex lives, and when it is far from clear that such intervention is necessary.

The tactics used in the UK are not unique and are rather simple.  Get some significant percentage of the public riled up about some sexual behavior which almost all persons agree is disgusting and obnoxious and then pass a law that goes way beyond the behaviors that led to the hysteria.  In essence this is what happened in California with the passage of proposition 8.  Make gay marriage illegal since if we have gay marriage then in some way this will facilitate the predatory sex crimes against children.  Or as Rick Warren does, associate homosexuality with child abuse and incest.

And what is most germane to this blog, use cases of relationships between students and professors which involve coercion and harassment to ban all consenting sexual relationships between students and professors.  And then present as a taken for granted assumption that such relationships undermine the integrity of the university.  And, of course, once these rules are in effect, consenting student professor couples are unlikely to come forward to challenge these rules since they would then become subject to being penalized by the powers that be.

And what becomes most galling to the dankprofessor is that the belief comes into being that the laws have been successful since student professor couples have scant visibility on campus.  Of course, they are not visible since they have been forced into the closet.  As gays have come out of the closet on campus, student professor couples now occupy that closet.  The campus moral entrepreneurs  and zealots have carried the day with barely a peep from the liberty advocating professoriate.  Of course, it is fear that carries the day on campus; with or without tenure, almost all faculty will not speak up for their colleagues, colleagues who only want the basic right of sexual privacy and to be left alone.

And when it comes to this blog, I know that fear prevents many professors and students from posting comments.  In 2008 I received many emails sent directly to me from students who have found these campus fraternization laws to be oppressive and hurtful.  I have done my best to write helpful responses to these students.  And I have done the same for a much smaller number of professors.  So even though there are few comments on the dankprofessor blog from students and professors, I do believe that I am getting the dank word out. And the dankprofesssor will continue to blog.

I greatly appreciate the support of my readers in 2008 and am looking forward to the dankprofessor blog doing more good in 2009.

January 1, 2009 Posted by | 2008, blogs, censorship, consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, gay marriage, higher education, pornography, privacy, sadomasochism, sex, sexual harassment, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, the closet, United Kingdom | Leave a comment

Call for censuring/censoring Chavez continues at UNM

The Albuquerque Journal reports (August 23) that the campaign against UNM S&M performing professor of English Lisa D Chavez continues unabated.  The campaign is conducted by some of her Creative Writing  and English Department colleagues who want the UNM administration to take some sort of sanctions against the professor for engaging in a S&M scenario on a website with UNM students.  However, the UNM administration will not buy into the professorial moral crusade against Chavez. 

In a recent letter to the faculty of the English Department, UNM President David Schmidley wrote:
“The university is, first and foremost, a place where students, faculty and administrators alike constantly engage in learning. It’s now time for all of us to learn anew the lessons of repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation.”

The UNM President has brought in an outside consulting firm in an attempt to resolve the situation, but such resolution has not occurred.  Some faculty have refused to engage in any form of mediation.  In fact, some of the faculty are threatening to leave if they don’t get their way-

“How can I stay? I don’t think I can stay,” said Joy Harjo, a full professor in the university’s creative writing program and a well regarded Native American poet who left the University of California Los Angeles for the chance to work for her alma mater. She said she’s bothered there were no consequences and that the university was dismissive of those who expressed concern.
    “Bottom line here is that there’s something of integrity being sacrificed, and that’s what is most disturbing to me,” she said.
    Sharon Warner, who resigned her post as director of the nationally recognized creative writing program in protest of the university’s handling of the Chávez situation, said several faculty members, including her, are looking for employment elsewhere.
    Warner said she attended Friday’s “facilitated discussion” and considered it unproductive.

(from Albuquerque Journal August 23)  

University Diaries blogger Margaret Soltan sympathizes with the offended faculty and refers to Chavez
as a “tenured perv”.   UD has also expressed a concern that the Chavez controversy may lead to the demise of the Creative Writing program which is a very small program.  In her latest blog posting, UD states:

“While UD thinks faculty should do more or less what they want on their own time, she agrees with Warner and Harjo that Lisa Chavez’s behavior was grotesque enough — and you don’t hear her apologizing for it, or saying she won’t do it again — that UNM should have been able to impose some sanctions. UD remains perplexed as to why it does not.”

The fact is that the UNM administration has indicated in no uncertain terms that they will take no action against Chavez since her S&M posing activities were unrelated to any formal university function.  In essence, their position is that Chavez’s off campus activities and the students who were involved in these activities did not represent any involvement of the University of New Mexico.  And the fact that there were no student complaints as to these activities impacting on their role as students at UNM is additional support for the correctness of the UNM position.

And the dankprofessor also holds that university professors do not have a right not to be offended by their colleagues off campus activities.  And this is what academic freedom is all about- the right to offend
even when such offending is off campus and even when such offensive conduct appears to be of a sexual nature.  The fact that UD judges Chavez to be a “tenured perv” is irrelevant; the fact that I find such a characterization offensive is also irrelevant.  It becomes relevant to the dankprofessor when such characterization is used as a means to terminate or sanction a professor.  If tenure has any meaning, it should mean that faculty should not attempt to sanction fellow faculty for what they consider to be offensive.

Critics of Chavez will point to an ad for the sm website which employed Chavez and which “characterizes Mistress Jade” as “a stern teacher ready to punish unruly students.” Of course, such is a  frequent s&m fantasy.  But as far as punishment goes, it is clear that several persons at UNM would like to punish Chavez in the real world for her acting out punishment scenarios in a fantasy world.

Sadistic conduct in the context of attempted coercion and degradation is certainly going on in the real world of UNM but such conduct is not being promulgated by Lisa Chavez; it is being promulgated by some faculty against Lisa Chavez.  Can’t a creative writing faculty tell the difference between fantasy and reality?  Can’t persons who are supposedly committed to creative thought and writing for themselves and their students, restrain their desire to censor and control?  Such represents a minimal expectation for those who are committed to the values of the life of the mind.

August 25, 2008 Posted by | academic freedom, censorship, consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, lisa chavez, sadomasochism, sex, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, University of New Mexico | Leave a comment

UK residents advised to destroy “questionable” sm books to avoid arrest

The Criminal Justice Bill has become the law of the United Kingdom as of May 8.  The dankprofessor has previously posted on this attempt to criminalize so-called extreme pornography by making it illegal for persons to be in possession of extreme pornography or what may appear to be extreme pornography.  I viewed the passage of this bill to be a clear and present danger to any person in the UK, citizen or non-citizen, who is in possession of what the authorities deem as extreme pornography.  But at the time of my original posting I erred in assuming that the law would be predominantly if not totally directed toward persons in the UK who view so called extreme porn sites on the web. I noted that American citizens in the UK could be arrested for viewing website originating in America that were legal in the United States.

The dankprofessor confesses to have been in a state of extreme naivete since I did not recognize that persons in the UK who are in possession of books, journals, photos, etc., that had representations of extreme pornography are subject to arrest for violation of the Criminal Justice Bill.

The website Index on Censorship facilitated my becoming more cognizant of how many persons could become entangled by this law.  Following are key quotes from the Index On Censorship post-

Collectors looking to make a fast buck by investing in erotica had a nervous awakening this morning. And fans of Madonna were left wondering whether they would need to mutilate one of her most famous books.
The Criminal Justice Bill …on ‘extreme pornography’…makes it illegal to possess images that depict ‘explicit realistic extreme acts’ that are also ‘grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character’. The penalty, if found guilty, is up to three years in prison.

Supporters claim that the target of the bill is very clear. Others are not so sure.

Sex, by Madonna, caused controversy on its publication in 1992. It was shot by respected photographer Steven Meisel. But critics accused it of including hardcore images of sado-masochism and even bestiality. In one photo, Madonna appears threatened by a knife. In another she appears in a sexually suggestive pose with a dog. Sex was banned in Japan.

Up to 100,000 copies may still be owned in the UK. Mint copies of this work are being traded for up to £700 on Amazon.

Confusion reigns. A barrister with expertise in this area argues that at least one of the images in Madonna’s book could pass all three tests set by the new law.

‘There has always been a grey area between art and pornography. For the first time, owning a book could land you in jail’, she added.

London lawyer John Lovatt, who advises on the Law and sexuality, is not so sure. ‘Personally, I do not think Madonna’s work would be criminal within the meaning of the new Act.

‘But this law is uncharted territory and will remain so until we see how the courts — and juries — interpret it.

‘If individuals wish to be 100 per cent safe, then they need to err on the side of caution. There are many books it would be safer to mutilate — or destroy altogether.’

His advice to collectors is therefore very simple: ‘be careful. It’s not worth going to jail for a coffee table adornment’.

The dankprofessor finds the bottom line of this posting to be disconcerting, extremely disconcerting to say the least.  To advise persons living in the UK to be careful and the safer thing to do with books of the genre of Madonna’s SEX would be to mutilate them or destroy them is almost beyond belief.

No wonder that “opponents of the new law burnt images outside the British Library before going on to mount a demonstration in Parliament Square”.

As reported by the website Inquisition 21st Century, Clair Lewis one of the demonstrators said that the protesters will employ other strategies as well-

“On the one hand, we intend to demand from the police, from the CPS, from Government that they make crystal clear which books, which images will be illegal. Future actions are likely to involve mass visits to police stations, asking the police to provide guidance, before the law is enacted.

“On the other, we are not going to make this easy for them. It is clear from police enthusiasm for this measure that they believed that taking control of people’s sexuality would be straightforward. It will not. We will fight them all the way. Every case will cost the police and authorities very dear indeed in terms of time, resources and manpower.”

“It is not the business of government to police the bedrooms of consenting adults. We cannot conduct our sex lives on the basis of ringing for legal advice every time we open a book.”

The voice of Clair Lewis will hopefully ring loud and clear not only in the UK but in all nations in which the freedom of the citizenry to choose for themselves what to view and read is considered to be axiomatic.

—–
If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration
to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor™
© Copyright 2008

 

May 25, 2008 Posted by | censorship, consensual relationships, ethics, pornography, sadomasochism, sex, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, speech, United Kingdom | 1 Comment

Sadomasochistic website viewers to become subject to arrest

CODE RED ALERT (CRA indicates that post reports on a situation that represents a clear and present danger to the civil liberties and privacy of the citizenry.)

 Sadomasochistic website viewers will become subject to arrest in the United Kingdom with the upcoming passage of a new obscenity law.  UK viewers of websites originating from the United States will be subject to arrest while the US website owners will not be subject to criminal prosecution. (Read on to find out how Americans can also be arrested under this law.)

Such is not the unforeseen effect of the law rather it is the intended effect.

The creation of the law was spearheaded by Liz Longhurst, the mother of Jane Longhurst.  Jane Longhurst was murdered five years ago by a person who was revealed to have been accessing websites showing images of women being “abused and violated”.

The law criminalizes the viewing of “extreme pornography”.  The major question then becomes what is extreme pornography.  Extreme pornography is defined in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill which is scheduled to get Royal Assent on May 8 .

As reported by the BBC News, extreme pornography is defined in the the following way-

As defined by the new Criminal Justice Bill
An act which threatens or appears to threaten a person’s life
An act which results in or appears to result in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals
An act which involves or appears to involve sexual interference with a human corpse
A person performing or appearing to perform an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal

Until now pornographers, rather than consumers, have needed to operate within the confines of the 1959 Obscene Publications Act (OPA). While this law will remain, the new act is designed to reflect the realities of the internet age, when pornographic images may be hosted on websites outside the UK.
Under the new rules, criminal responsibility shifts from the producer – who is responsible under the OPA – to the consumer.

But campaigners say the new law risks criminalising thousands of people who use violent pornographic images as part of consensual sexual relationships.

Opposition to the legislation 

is led by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer, a Liberal Democrat peer who has fought to have the legislation amended.

“Obviously anything that leads to violence against women has to be taken very seriously,” says Baroness Miller. “But you have to be very careful about the definition of ‘extreme pornography’ and they have not nearly been careful enough.”

She has suggested the new act adopt the legal test set out in the OPA, which bans images which “tend to deprave and corrupt”.

But the government has sought to broaden the definition and the bill includes phrases such as “an act which threatens or appears to threaten a person’s life”.

Speaking from her home in Berkshire, Mrs Longhurst acknowledges that libertarians see her as “a horrible killjoy”.

“I’m not. I do not approve of this stuff but there is room for all sorts of different people. But anything which is going to cause damage to other people needs to be stopped.”
To those who fear the legislation might criminalise people who use violent pornography as a harmless sex aid, she responds with a blunt “hard luck”.

“There is no reason for this stuff. I can’t see why people need to see it. People say what about our human rights but where are Jane’s human rights?”

Baroness Miller says the new law also threatens people’s privacy.

“The government is effectively walking into people’s bedrooms and saying you can’t do this. It’s a form of thought police.”

She says there’s a danger of “criminalising kinkiness” and fears the legislation has been rushed through Parliament without proper debate because it is a small part of a wider bill.

Another critic of the law states-

“How many tens or hundreds or thousands of people are going to be dragged into a police station, have their homes turned upside down, their computers stolen and their neighbours suspecting them of all sorts?”

Such “victims” won’t feel able to fight the case and “will take a caution, before there are enough test cases to prove that this law is unnecessary and unworkable”.

Another opponent of the new law is Edward Garnier, an MP and part-time judge, who questioned the clause when it was debated in the Commons.

“My primary concern is the vagueness of the offence,” says Mr Garnier. “It was very subjective and it would not be clear to me how anybody would know if an offence had been committed.”

…opponents have also seized on what they see as an anomaly in the new law, noted by Lord Wallace of Tankerness during last week’s debate in the House of Lords.

“If no sexual offence is being committed it seems very odd indeed that there should be an offence for having an image of something which was not an offence,” he said.

With that partly in mind, the government is tabling an amendment that would allow couples to keep pictures of themselves engaged in consensual acts – but not to distribute them. Lord Hunt, who has charge of the bill in the Lords, admits it is being rushed through to meet a deadline. But he denies the law has not been thoroughly considered and maintains it will only affect images that are “grossly offensive and disgusting”.

Such is the nature of the absurdity of what is about to happen in the UK.  And what the dankprofessor finds to be ironic is that the UK initiated change in their laws to legalize same sex sexual consensual behavior way before homosexual law reform occurred in the United States, and now the UK will be criminalizing UK viewers who view consensual sm behaviors on websites originating in the United States.  And for those blog readers who may think this issue has nothing to do with universities and sexual politics, think again since the viewing of such websites in universities throughout the UK will become illegal.

And let us not overlook the Draconian nature of this legislature, images of actual harmful behavior need not be presented in these websites, it is appearances that count.

Such would make the San Francisco website kink.com, which was recently the subject of a feature article in the NY Times, play an unintended role in facilitating the arrest of their UK viewers.  And, of course, some of these viewers in the UK may be American citizens who in a state of naivete access a website that can lead to their being arrested.

Times do change.  In the old days, Americans returning to the US from Britain with copies of Lady Chatterley’s Lover risked having their copy seized and risked being arrested.  Now Americans in Britain could be arrested in Britain for viewing American websites.

Unfortunately, the attack on adult sexual consensual behavior/viewing knows no limits.  This attack on sm consensual behavior/viewing is simply another contemporary example of a sexual crusade which has no respect for individual autonomy, and personal privacy in the implementation of moral zealotry.

FOR AN UPDATE ON THIS STORY, CLICK HERE

—–
If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration
to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor™
© Copyright 2008 

 

 

 

April 29, 2008 Posted by | censorship, consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, pornography, sadomasochism, sex, sex work, sexual politics, speech, Uncategorized, United Kingdom | 1 Comment

   

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 47 other followers

%d bloggers like this: