Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Steve Cooley could block gay marriage in California

Who can possibly block gay marriage from becoming a legal reality in California?  Steve Cooley  is committed to the implementation of Prop 8 and if he his elected as Attorney General of California, he would be in a position of going forward with an appeal of the recent judicial judgement that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.  Presently, Attorney General Brown and Gov Schwarznegger won’t appeal.

So Cooley could not successfully get Polanski back into the country so hPolanski be persecuted.  Of course, Cooley should never be counted out, not when he could impinge on the rights of  millions of gay men and women.  If Cooley is elected as Atty General for California, anything is possible.  I would not put it beyond him to broker a deal via which h Polanski would return to California in exchange for Cooley not blocking the implementation of Prop 8.

October 14, 2010 Posted by | gay marriage, gay rights, Proposition 8 | 1 Comment

Hugo Schwyzer and the sin of coercion

OK, I will begin my reply post to Hugo Schwyzer’s response to me by picking a bone with him as to how he presents me. He indicates that at Cal State Long Beach I had built a name for myself “as a consistent (some would say relentless) advocate for legitimizing sexual relationships between teachers and students”.  If the good professor had done his homework on me, he would have known that I built a name for myself in the area of legitimizing sexual relationships starting in the late 1960s when I relentlessly opposed discrimination against gays, wrote “Coming Out in the Gay World” which came to be regarded as a classic article in the sociology of homosexuality, created the first officially recognized undergraduate course on homosexuality in 1969, and worked to help create the first officially recognized GSU in California at CSULB and last but not least I wrote an article against Anita Bryant and her campaign against homosexuality which was reprinted throughout the United States and helped to defeat the Briggs initiative in 1977, and led to numerous threats against my life, see that article by clicking here.  Post my involvement in the gay rights campaign, I became involved in issues regarding interracial dating and marriage and helped to found the Interrace Association at CSULB.

So prior to my getting involved in the student professor issue I had an extensive background regarding transcending sexual boundaries, standing up for sexual freedom and consent.  In this area I was relentless and remain relentless.  Such relentlessness was not stifled by the small mindedness of too many of my opponents and their attempts to objectify and demonize me. For example, Schwyzer states that I celebrate student professor sexual relationships.  I do not celebrate any form of consensual sexuality.  What I celebrate is the right of consenting adults to engage in sexual fraternization no matter how offensive such fraternization is held to be by others.  What offends me are those who engage in coercion of consenting others who happen to violate their sexual “ethic”.

And as for Schwyzer not being able to see the similarities in the dynamics of those opposing interracial relationships and those opposing student professor relationships, I suggest that he is suffering from a form of cultural blindness.  I suggest that he read Lillian Smith’s book KILLERS OF THE DREAM and then he may understand the southern “ethic” that embraced the notion that a white woman/black man relationship can never be consensual, such always precluded consent, that such always represented rape, and that white men were protective of “their” white women who could not consent for themselves and were in essence children or childlike. Of course, any dissident black man faced a sentence of death via hanging and/or burning for the sin of loving the wrong person.  Of course, today’s sexual dissidents who engage in academia’s love that dare not speak its name do not face being physically killed but rather being socially and psychologically exiled from academia since they have violated the sacred principle of “differential power precludes consent”.  Safer for them to remain in the closet which has historically been the home of the sexually persecuted or those in support of the sexually persecuted.

In response to me, Schwyzer states-

I’m not incapable of drawing distinctions between behavior which is criminal and behavior which is merely unethical. But I also think that folks like Dank fail to recognize three things:

1. College students in their late teens and early twenties are still developing intellectually and emotionally, as this New York Times Magazine article made clear recently. Many young people are in a space between, as the old saying goes, “the Already and the Not Yet.” They are already legal adults and are in many ways fully responsible, but in other key ways continue to need more time to develop the complete capacity for impulse control and moral reasoning. As the Times article put it, the only ones who “got it right” about how long it takes young people to grow up are the car-rental companies, who often refuse to rent their vehicles to drivers under the age of twenty-five. While nineteen year-olds may be ready for sexual relationships with their peers, they are vulnerable to exploitation (whatever protestations may be made to the contrary) by those who are substantially older.

Schwyzer continues to focus on students as young people, apparently teens or just post teenager.  Such reflects Schwyzer’s hangups or possibly his complete immersion in the world of PCC.  To assume that university students are young and immature is absurd.

To assume that being young reflects immaturity is absurd.  To assume that being old reflects maturity is absurd.  To assume nothing and treat and respect the individuality of the other is not absurd. Such reflects in Buberian terms the willingness to employ an I-thou framework.  Schwyzer employs an I-it framework which makes coercing others so much easier.

Then comes his point 2-

2. The power imbalance between a professor and a student, regardless of the latter’s age, makes it impossible for the student to give consent as long as the professor is in a position to evaluate (or recommend) him or her. You can’t trust a “yes” unless the person who says the “yes” also feels free to say “no” in the confidence that there will be no deleterious consequences. And as long as a student is in any position to be evaluated professionally by their professor/lover, they can’t have that knowledge that a “no” will be safe. That’s not infantilizing; that’s common sense.

Here he states it really is not about age, but about power imbalance in general. He holds it axiomatic that students cannot give consent (such assumes of course that the student is not the initiator and the professor is the one consenting).  Such represents the end point of his argument- students cannot consent so we will not allow the student to be in such a position. What he fails to note is that now he and his chosen colleagues are now in the power position and they have taken away the ability to consent of both students and professors. Both students and professors must consent to the will of the all powerful bureaucrat.  Schwyzer and his confereres end up calling for what all authoritarians call for- OBEDIENCE, obedience to them.  And as for his comments about possible deleterious consequences, freedom always represents the possibility of deleterious consequences; lack of freedom always represents the reality of deleterious consequences.

And now to his third point-

3. The damage that professor-student sexual relationships do to the broader academic community is enormous. I’ve written that some of the students with whom I had sexual relationships remembered what we shared fondly; otherssuffered lasting negative consequences for which I take full responsibility and a profound sense of guilt. But leaving aside the essential question of the impact of these relationships on young women’s lives, I can say with certainty that these affairs are impossible to keep secret. Campus gossip made them widely known. Not only was I labeled a lecher, but the legitimacy of the entire college was in some sense compromised. I’ll never know how many young people grew a bit more cynical, a bit less trustful of the system, a bit more suspicious of older men as a result of my sadly well-deserved reputation in the mid-to-late 1990s on this campus.

Is Schwyzer referring to PCC here being damaged in some way by his relationships with young women?  I speculate that he is projecting his own sense of damage and guilt on to the wider academic community.  He is seeing his campus world thru his guilt tinged lenses.  He ends up dealing with his guilt by coercing others to be “better” than he was; he ends up being an authoritarian do-gooder.  And as for campus gossip, my advice to him is to just get beyond the rumor mongers; do what you consider to be right and don’t focus on the opinions of others.  And, of course, it will often be the case that no matter what one does, one can end up becoming rumor subject matter.

As for recommended pieces regarding this issue, he neglects the most powerful published essay written by then graduate student Cristina Nehring. You can find it on my blog, of course.  I can’t reprint the whole article, but I have reprinted enough to capture the essence of her argument, and do read the recent student comments on this posting.  Of course, you can read a couple of my pieces by clicking here and here as well as reading SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND CONSENT which I co-edited. Daphne Patai’s book although somewhat tangential gives a pretty good portrait of how campuses are becoming less free. And, of course, anything written by Dick Skeen, material based on his doctoral dissertation, should be required reading.

And I bemoan the loss of community on too many campuses.  The implementation of these fraternization rules make informal interaction between students and professors problematic.  Fear too often now structures student professor interaction; fear that there may be a sexual imputation.  Schwyzer never mentions this; never mentions that many campus regulations prohibit both sexual OR amorous relationships.  On a personal note, I became a professor already a part of academic life since I had married a professor’s daughter and took for granted the camaraderie, the informality that was a part of the community of learners, no matter what the age.  It’s basically gone now; replaced by an impersonal bureaucracy, paid bureaucrats making sure things are under control which de facto means keeping things in the closet.

I also want to make clear that I do not condemn or disrespect Schwyzer for his attempt to come to terms with his past sexuality.  His guilt feelings I do not doubt are real; his need for redemption is real. What I question that in his need for redemption or expiation he ends up advocating the coercing of others for engaging in consensual sex he disapproves of.  In the dankprofessor’s framework he commits the sin of coercion which represents his own unacknowledged arrogance.

September 30, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, Daphne Patai, ethics, fear, fraternization, gay rights, higher education, Pasadena City College, sex, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating | 25 Comments

My 1977 article BRYANT’S BRIGADE USES HITLER’S TACTICS

This article originally published in the LA Times in 1977 was picked up by the wire presses and published in papers throughout the United States. Depending on ones perspective, I either became quite famous or infamous as a result of the publication of this article.

I became subjected to reams of hate mail and almost daily bomb threats on campus. Of course, such was to be expected if I what I wrote in the commentary was correct. On the plus side, I also received much positive feedback; Harvey Milk in some of his speeches employed my perspective and the Briggs initiative was
defeated. Actually, the Times used one whole page here; first having Briggs state his position and then having my essay.
————————————————-

Bryant’s Brigade Uses Hitler’s Tactics
BARRY M DANK
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File); Oct23, 1977;
ProQuest Historical Newspapers Los Angeles Times (1881 – 1986)
pg.H5
Bryant’s Brigade Uses Hitler’s Tactics

BY BARRY M. DANK

In recent months, two of the sociology courses I teach have seemed to merge into one. They are titled “The Holocaust” and “So¬cial Psychology of Homosexuality.”

What has made them come together in my mind is the parallel between the rise of Na¬zism in prewar Germany, which ultimately brought about the extermination of 6 million Jews, and the current antihomosexual move¬ment in America, led by singer Anita Bryant and supported by State Sen. John V. Briggs, who wrote the article above.

Although contemporary political figures are often labeled as modern-day Hitlers, the designation usually comes from persons whose knowledge of Hitler and Nazism is rather meager, and so I discount the comparison. In the case of Anita Bryant and her followers, however, such an analogy should not be light¬ly dismissed. As David Lehrer, Western states counsel for the Anti-Defamation League, has noted: “There’s a whole new cadre . .. around who are smart enough not to wear swastikas. They join the Klan now or create churches. . .but they’re Nazis just the same.”

Just as Hitler viewed the Jews as a power¬ful force that was polluting and destroying so¬ciety, so do Bryant and her followers view ho¬mosexuals as social defilers. Hitler reduced the Jews to vermin who were infecting the master Aryan race. The Bryant brigade talks as though homosexuals are alien perverts bent on destroying the fabric of Christian America.
A powerful motivating factor in anti-Semi¬tism throughout the ages has been the myth that Jews engage in ritual murder of Christian children. Playing on fear of this bizarre beha¬vior, Hitler had Jewish teachers fired as one of his first anti-Semitic actions.

Bryant and her supporters invoke a differ¬ent, but similar, idea—that homosexuals subtly recruit children to homosexuality through exposure to their “life-style.” Predictably, the initial goal of their campaign is to prohibit ho¬mosexual schoolteachers from the classroom— a ban that Briggs advocates on this page.

Hitler maintained that being a good German entailed being anti-Jewish, while Bryant preaches that to be a good Christian requires being antihomosexual. But, many Jews were assimilated into the mainstream of prewar Germany and therefore were hard to identify, just as many homosexuals are now integrated into the dominant heterosexual culture in America. In order to avoid being mistaken for Jews, Germans tended to keep their dis¬tance from known Jews and from groups sym¬pathetic to them. Likewise, most heterosexual Americans who do not wish to be mistakenly identified as gay shun known homosexuals and prohomosexual organizations.

Committed to the idea that Germans in par¬ticular, and Aryans in general, were a master race ordained by nature to rule the world, the Fuehrer saw the “subhuman” Jews as the ma¬jor stumbling block. Although they existed as a relatively powerless and vulnerable minori¬ty in every European country, Hitler insisted that the Jews constituted a powerful interna¬tional conspiracy.

Leaders of the present antihomosexual movement do not directly invoke the concept of a divinely ordained master race, and yet they speak as though they are acting as the agents of God. In fact, they diminish their own personal responsibility by appealing to the au¬thority of God’s will.

At the same time that they overlook the re¬latively weak position that homosexuals as a group occupy in this country and throughout the world, they capitalize on a long tradition of antihomosexual sentiment in Western civi¬lization.

Initially I was reluctant to extend this anal¬ogy beyond these few significant similarities. After all, Bryant and her followers do not call for the physical elimination of homosexuals. But then I remembered that neither did the original recruits to Nazism contemplate geno¬cide as the ultimate consequence of their fer¬vid anti-Semitism. Even most German Jews at first refused to recognize the danger signals, just as some homosexuals today still regard the antihomosexual crusade as a bad joke that will fade away. But Hitler proved he was in¬deed to be taken seriously, and in recent months the vast majority of homosexuals have come to realize that Anita Bryant’s crusade is no laughing matter.

We know all too well the outcome of Hit¬ler’s campaign: In the late ’30s German Jews found their fate sealed by a ruling cadre of fanatics determined to “purify” the Father¬land. Ultimately, most Germans acquiesced in this goal, only later claiming they lacked the power to thwart Nazi intentions,

Anita Bryant’s crusade is committed to purging American society of homosexuals to “Save Our Children,” and it is here that the analogy with Nazism breaks down, though the movement hardly becomes less ominous. The difference has been expressed many times be¬fore, but it deserves underlining once more: While Germans of the Hitler era attempted to root out their Jewish neighbors, the current target of antihomosexuals in America live not next door but under our own roofs. They are our own children.

It remains to be seen whether we as parents will stand by and watch our children sacri¬ficed in the very name of Christianity and the American family.

Barry M. Dank is an associate professor of sociology at Cal State-Long Beach.

November 14, 2009 Posted by | Anita Bryant, gay history, gay rights, homosexual, sexual politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Keith Olbermann on gay marriage and love

Click here to view Keith Olbermann’s impassioned commentary on the passage of Proposition 8.  This should  be required viewing for everyone.

November 24, 2008 Posted by | ethics, gay marriage, gay rights, homosexual, love, sex, sexual politics | Leave a comment

Chuck Norris and the chucking of the constitution

If democracy doesn’t work, try anarchy, such is the gay baiting chant of Chuck Norris.
 
Norris doesn’t get why so many Californian gays are upset with the passage of Prop 8 invalidating the California State Supreme Court decision legally affirming the right of same sex marriage.
 
Maybe Chuck Norris would get it if there was a democratically imposed fiat that took away his right to marry.  In all probability, Norris takes it for granted that he has a fundamental right to marry.
 
The dankprofessor believes that if a bunch of persons claiming to be religious fundamentalists took away his right to marry he would be damn angry and maybe even engage in some karate ideations.  Presently he is angry that the gay married and those wishing to marry persons of the same sex are angry.  He bemoans the actions of some protesters who revealed the identities of some of those who financially supported Prop 8 as well as bemoaning the actions of protestors who disturbed the tranquility of some who were partaking in church marriage ceremonies and exercising their rights to engage in marital rites.
 
Norris states that he is disturbed by

“the obvious inability of the minority to accept the will of the majority. Californians have spoken twice, through the elections in 2000 and 2008.

Nearly every county across the state (including Los Angeles County) voted to amend the state constitution in favor of traditional marriage.

Nevertheless, bitter activists simply cannot accept the outcome as being truly reflective of the general public.”

He then invokes “Chuck Colson, who wrote: “This is an outrage. What hypocrisy from those who spend all of their time preaching tolerance to the rest of us! How dare they threaten and attack political opponents? We live a democratic country, not a banana republic ruled by thugs.”

In Norris’s terms: “Political protests are one thing, but when old-fashioned bullying techniques are used that restrict voting liberties and even prompt fear of safety, activists have crossed a line.”

And he concludes on the following note: “Like it or not, it’s the law now. The people have spoken.”
 
Of course, no where in this diatribe does Norris provide any recognition of the fact that our democracy is a limited democracy, limited by constitutional guarantees.   He does in passing invoke liberties as in “voting liberties”, but just cannot understand that there are also liberties involving freedom of association and the freedom to marry.
 
For Norris and all too many of his confreres, democracy, the will of the voting majority, trumps the constitution, trumps any civil liberties.  In a sense the constitution should function to protect the citizenry from the thuggery of those using the democratic process to pummel the rights of others.
 
For the dankprofessor, it doesn’t matter if Norris’s perspective is a result of naivete, of arrogance, of religious zealotry, or all of the aforementioned.  The bottom line is that so-called democrats who do not recognize civil liberties all too often end up as authoritarians who righteously demean and degrade and often jail others as they invoke the good of the people, and affirm their superiority, albeit it a racial or sexual or marital superiority.
 
The California Supreme Court correctly cited the prior court decisions which nullified laws criminalizing interracial marriage.  No matter that invalidating interracial bans went against the prejudices of many Americans.  The right to marry then and now remains a fundamental right.  And such is why the dankprofessor holds that California Supreme Court should and will invalidate Proposition 8.

November 23, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, gay marriage, gay rights, homosexual, sexual politics, sexual rights | Leave a comment

   

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