Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

College sexual code enforcer charged with distributing child pornography

At times the dankprofessor has speculated about the mentality of campus administrators who apply campus policies which ban student professor consensual sexual relationships.  Might such persons be conflicted about their  invasion of the private lives of consenting adults?  Or do these persons tend to be moral zealots who gain some sort of gratification by abusing less powerful others? Whatever the dynamic may be, no one, other than myself, seems to be interested in the enforcers of the university sexual codes.

But there may now be a change as a result of developments at a Canadian college, Lethbridge College.  I have previously blogged on Lethbridge concerning the situation of psychology professor Gregory Bird who was suspended by Lethbridge for engaging in consensual sexual relationships with students.  Professor Bird successfully fought the suspension and was reinstated after he successfully argued that Lethbridge did not have any rules which bar student prof fraternization.  Of course, the Lethbridge administration did not like this arbitration imposed reinstatement.

Rick Buis, the college’s vice-president of corporate and international relations, said on Thursday the arbitrators were correct in finding the college had no specific policy prohibiting student/teacher relationships.

But he said psychology instructor Greg Bird should have known better.

“We don’t have policies stating ‘Thou shalt not steal’ or ‘Thou shalt not fight with fellow employees in the cafeteria,’ ” Buis said. “We think, ‘Thou shalt not sleep with students’ is equally obvious.”

But what Buis does not state as being obvious is that Lethbridge administrators shalt not distribute child pornography.  Now here is the news story about Lethridge’s sexual code enforcer.

A former vice-president of Lethbridge College is accused of possessing and sharing sexually explicit online movies involving pre-teen children while he was employed by the college. Richard Buis, 64, turned himself in to Lethbridge regional police Thursday morning before making a brief appearance in provincial court to answer to charges of possessing, accessing and distributing child pornography. He was charged this week following a three-month investigation by the province’s Integrated Child Exploitation (ICE) unit and Lethbridge regional police.
Police were tipped off this spring by a person “very close” to the accused who came across evidence and put themselves in some personal danger to report it to police, said Staff Sgt. Scott Chadsey, head of the regional police major crimes section.

Buis resigned April 9 from his position as the college’s vice-president of corporate and international services, citing personal reasons at the time. He had been working under contract since formally retiring from the college two years earlier after a 20-year career with the institution. His contract term was scheduled to end June 30.

Buis also resigned this past spring as president of the Lethbridge Exhibition board with about eight months remaining in his two-year term.
Police allege that between 2008-2010, the accused man downloaded and accessed video files at his home depicting children between the ages of seven and 12 engaged in sexual acts and that he made the files available to others.
“There were three laptops seized, all belonging to the accused,” said Const. Keon Woronuk, a local officer assigned to the province’s southern ICE unit.
“They were owned by the college, but they were seized from his home,” he said, adding police found no evidence any of the alleged offences took place on the college campus.
Forensic examination of the computers, he said, revealed evidence of online file sharing by downloading or making material available to others via the Internet.
Looking tired and haggard, Buis appeared in Lethbridge provincial court Thursday and stood briefly in the prisoner’s dock while Crown prosecutor Vaughan Hartigan outlined conditions of his release.
Buis was told he is not allowed use a computer or any electronic device capable of accessing the Internet, and he can’t visit any business, such as a cyber cafe, which provides customers with Internet access. The accused is also prohibited from having any contact with anyone under the age of 18 unless accompanied by an adult who knows of the charges, and he cannot go to swimming pools, playgrounds, parks or anywhere children under the age of 16 may congregate.
The release order also limits his options for employment. Buis can’t work anywhere or volunteer in any capacity in which he would be entrusted with a child under the age of 16. He must also submit to police searches without the necessity of a search warrant, report to local police as directed, keep the peace, and attend court as required.
In another matter, Buis was in court last month on a single charge of assault, but it was withdrawn after he agreed to comply with a peace bond, under which he must keep the peace, report regularly to a peace officer, and attend counselling for issues of domestic violence.
Buis’ next court appearance on the child pornography charges is scheduled for Aug. 12.
College President Tracy Edwards is away in Eastern Canada and wasn’t available for comment, but in an email sent to college faculty and staff Thursday morning, she described news of the charges against Buis as “disturbing and regrettable.”

Disturbing and regrettable, to say the least.  Unfortunately President Edwards was not disturbed at all when Prof Bird was suspended for consensual relationships with adult students. VP Buis was his primary agent for enforcing his moral sexual codes.  Of course, it comes down to the same old question- who will protect us from our so-called protectors?  And the bottom line at universities and beyond should be that consenting adults should not be subjected to any protectors of any kind; those who put themselves in the postion of their protectors are always engaging in a form of abuse.

July 12, 2010 Posted by | child pornography, consensual relationships, Lethbridge College, pornography, sex, sexual policing, sexual politics, student professor dating | 1 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

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

UNM Prof Lisa Chavez speaks out

There have been major developments on the UNM Lisa Chavez story. The website sexinthepublicsquare has published an in-depth and definitely worth reading interview with Professor Chavez.  Professor Elizabeth Wood, the interviewer, is to be congratulated for her good work.  The dankprofessor urges blog readers to read the entirety of the interview. And sexinthepublicsquare is now on the dankprofessor’s very selective list of blogs that merit reading on a regular basis. 

In addition, TV station krqe had a news segment on the Chavez sitution in which Sharon Warner was interviewed and images of Professor Chavez partaking in a sm scene were shown.

In the interview, Professor Chavez makes it quite clear that this incident did not involved a sexual relationship with a student-

I was not in a relationship with the student in the photos–other than the relationship between co-workers at PEP and as friends.I do not think adult students need to be protected from faculty. Of course I believe sexual harassment and any coercion are wrong, but I don’t believe consensual relationships are wrong. In fact, there are cases of such relationships in my department, but they have always been heterosexual. There are also cases of true harassment, which have not been pursued. I believe I am being treated this way partially because the purported relationship was between two women, and also because they see a certain “luridness” in what some in my department called  the “sex trade.”

I do think students and faculty both can benefit from close relationships–not sexual relationships per se, but friendships–and this is especially true in my field of creative writing. I have become friends with a number of the students I’ve worked with (and, for the record, I have never had a sexual relationship with a student, though I do not mean to condemn all such relationships), and I believe that the friendship helps us work better together. Creating writing is often a sort of soul-baring, and I believe that to work well together, we need to build up a mutual trust, which is something that goes beyond a formal student/teacher distance.

Bravo to Professor Chavez for not engaging in a condemnation of student professor relationships and reciting the cant that differential power precludes consent.  But even given her non-sexual involvement with students, the campaign against her will in all likelihood continue unabated.

What has become most clear to the dankprofessor is that resigned UNM Writing Director Sharon Warner is the major protagonist.  One does not have to read between the lines to figure out that she has de facto communicated that she was the one who broke this “story”.  She appears to be the “third party informant”. There was no story until she came forward.  Prior to her coming forward, Professor Chavez as part of an sm scene or performance was not recognized as such on the internet; she was not identified personally on the website.

Professor Warner in essence wrote the story.  And she is the story, not Lisa Chavez.  She is the absolutist moral entrepreneur attempting to sell her story at the expense of Lisa Chavez.  In essence, Warner’s story is summed up in the following quote- “We think a message must be sent out not only to her but to other faculty members because: If this is not unethical, what is unethical?”

Nothing here about protecting students from harm; it’s primarily about sending out a message to other faculty members, a message reaffirming traditional sexual morality.   For her, Lisa Chavez is a sexual outsider.  I have no doubt that this woman will not rest until Lisa is exiled or excommunicated from UNM. 

Adding melodrama to the story is Professor Warner’s resignation as Writing Director.  She just couldn’t handle Lisa Chavez not being punished by the UNM administration and she could not handle her colleague returning from sabbatical still in good university standing.  So she resigns in protest. The dankprofessor’s reaction is “big deal”.  Such was a symbolic protest with no substance; she did not resign as a tenured English professor; hardly anything as an academic really changes for her.

Professor Warner has promised to continue to campaign for the university censuring of Professor Chavez; she indicates that she will take this to the desk of Governor Richardson if such becomes necessary.  Not boding well for Professor Chavez is none of her English faculty colleagues have publicly indicated any kind of support for her while 13 of her colleagues have signed a petition asking for further university evaluation of her actions.  The dankprofessor estimates that there are 43 tenured faculty, including faculty who may be untenured but are on a tenure track in the UNM English department. Even if the UNM administration maintains its position as to not punish Professor Chavez, Chavez could very well find upon her return a very hostile and non-welcoming English faculty.  The fact is that bullying of academics by fellow academics is rife in the academic world; in this context, do checkout the website bulliedacademics.blogspot.com

Academic bullying can range from outright shunning to verbal hostility to a myriad of false charges having nothing to do with the original charge to the assignment of particularly unattractive teaching schedules to never getting another sabbatical leave to never getting promoted.  Of course, the intent is to punish the bullied and to make life so difficult that the bullied “chooses” to resign.  I call this a definite example of power abuse!  Nothing consensual about this, my point being that Professor Chavez engaged in a consensual SM performance.  Those trying to get rid of Chavez or bullying of her in the future, if such be the case, do not give a damn about consent and are the ones engaging in power abuse.

To date the administration of the University of New Mexico has been exemplary as to how they have dealt with this situation.  They merit the support of academics who truly take academic freedom seriously.  Unquestionably their power is and will be continued to be challenged.  Let us hope that they do not capitulate.

—–
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 5, 2008 Posted by | academic freedom, consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, lisa chavez, nudity, pornography, sadomasochism, sex, sex work, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, Uncategorized, University of New Mexico | 7 Comments

Opposition coalesces against UNM for not punishing sadomasochistic posing professor

The University Of New Mexico’s student newspaper, the Daily Lobo, reported today that Sharon Warner “UNM’s director of creative writing said she will resign because her colleague has not been punished for posing in sexually explicit photos with students.” She submitted her letter of resignation on March 23 and is expected to vacate her position on April 15.

As previously reported by the dankprofessor, Professor of English Lisa Chavez had been investigated by the UNM administration for posing nude on a sadomasochism website, People Exchanging Power (PEP). She had posed nude with some of her students who had previously been involved with PEP. The investigation determined that Chavez had not exerted undue influence on these students, that the student involvement was consensual.

Two weeks ago Deputy Provost Richard Holder representing the UNM administration indicated that based on the investigation that Chavez was fit to teach and that she would not be subject to any university sanctions or penalties. The investigation also found that Chavez’s actions did not create a hostile environment and no university facilities were involved.

In her resignation letter Sharon Warner expressed dismay with the University’s position, and indicated that Chavez should be punished. The Daily Lobo reports that in the letter that

Warner said English department Chairman David Jones failed to report images of Chavez and a student enrolled in her spring 2007 class.

However, Jones said he received photos of Chavez posing for the Web site in July but did not receive the group photo until later.

“(Warner) has a very different recollection on matter than I do,” Jones said. “She believes she showed me the images several months before I actually saw them.”

Jones said he received an anonymous letter in July with photos of Chavez posing for the Web site. He said he immediately reported the incident to administration.

In an interview with the Daily Lobo, Warner stated:

“Mainly, what it amounts to is the chair, the dean and UNM legal counsel have all told me on multiple occasions that I was – and to quote them – ‘perilously close to being sued by Chavez’s attorney,’ and that I would have to pay for my own counsel,” she said in a phone interview. “I was told that they would take my house, and that I may be sued down to my grandchildren.”

English Chair Jones stated that Warner “has been immensely valuable to the program. She has built the program into what it is today,” he said. “However, it is also true that this is not a lifetime appointment. Other people have told me that it might be time for a change.”

However, a number of English department faculty also want change, but change of a different genre as indicated by the following-

English professor Gary Scharnhorst said he is not happy about Holder’s decision. Scharnhorst said he has signed two petitions to refer the issue to the ethics committee.

“I’ve written letters to a number of administrators at the University,” he said. “I believe that what happened was profoundly unprofessional conduct and should be sent to the ethics committee for review.”

Warner said both petitions were signed by 13 faculty members in the English department.

She said the latest petition has been sent to interim Provost Viola Florez.

“We’re continuing all the way up to the academic chain,” she said. “We’re prepared to take it all the way to the governor if we have to.”

So here we have academic politics in full operation. Jones has been attacked by Warner and the English faculty are organizing in opposition to their Chair and Chavez and VP Holder and organizing in support of Warner.

The dankprofessor had predicted in my prior posting that there would be concerted opposition to allowing Chavez to teach at UNM. And now the dankprofessor predicts that the English faculty will attempt to censure and possibly remove their Chair. And as for Warner’s April 15 resignation, such could also be a political ploy to get the UNM administration to reconsider their position.

The UNM administration did the right thing in the way they handled the case- they investigated the situation and had detailed findings that simply did not support the punishing of Professor Chavez. But now the UNM moral mafia situated in the English department are engaging in pressure politics to punish and/or get rid of Chavez.

And there is no way of telling where this political pressuring and posturing could lead. If, as Warner threatens, it ends up on the desk of Governor Richardson, it will also probably end up entering the national political primary arena.

 With Richardson having fully embraced Obama, and Richardson having been accused of being a Judas by key Clinton supporters, it becomes within the realm of the politically possible that the Clinton campaign would embrace the politics of Karl Rove if Richardson and then by association Obama do not affirm traditional values by demanding the termination of Professor Chavez.

The dankprofessor believes that more on this will be forthcoming soon with the the deadline day being the taxing day of April 15.

For an update on his 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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

April 3, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, lisa chavez, litigation, nudity, pornography, sadomasochism, sex, sexual politics, University of New Mexico | 2 Comments

University of Texas Houston sued for alleged retaliation against porn investigator

It was reported in today’s Austin-American Statesman that Cynthia Davis continues to pursue litigation relating to her firing as University of Texas-Houston technology auditor who had investigated the pornography usage of university computers by faculty and other employees of the UT Health Science Center at Houston.

Based on her 2003 investigative findings, “officials of the health center fired one employee and placed a written reprimand in the personnel files of nine others. The officials never ordered a thorough investigation of as many as 300 other employees whose computer records suggested that they also had spent time viewing X-rated Web sites on the job. What’s more, officials acknowledged that the true number of employees viewing pornography could have been far greater.” As a result of her efforts, Davis claimed that she was fired.

The Austin-American Statesman reviewed the details from court records in a lawsuit that Davis “filed in federal court in 2005 against two prominent higher education officials whom she accuses of largely brushing aside the problem and retaliating against her for raising concerns in 2003.”

Excerpts from the Austin-American Statesman report follows-

A federal appeals court ruled last month that Davis can proceed with her suit against Mike McKinney, who left his position as senior executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Houston center in 2006 to become chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, and Charles Chaffin, the UT System’s director of audits. McKinney, a physician and former state representative, has also served as Gov. Rick Perry’s chief of staff, vice chancellor for health affairs at the UT System and commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

Davis filed the suit against McKinney and Chaffin, the Houston health science center, the UT System and the UT Board of Regents. A district judge dismissed the case against all but McKinney and Chaffin, who declined through representatives to comment, citing the ongoing litigation.

Davis contends that she was pressured to quit her job in late 2003 in the wake of her investigation into the viewing of pornography by faculty members, staff members and students. She is seeking reinstatement, back pay and other damages.

Davis said the lax response by UT officials shocked her. “I thought, people are going to be outraged when they see this,” said Davis, now a computer and accounting consultant in Houston. She said McKinney “handled it the worst of all of them” by narrowing the scope of any investigation from the start.

McKinney said in a deposition supplied by Davis’ lawyer that when he was told how many people were possibly viewing porn, “My immediate reaction was I can’t fire 300 people.”

Davis said McKinney told her, “Bring me the top 10 abusers.”

Davis said she discovered that one pediatric dentist regularly viewed X-rated Web sites in the early morning before seeing patients. She said another employee posted to the Internet pornographic material he had videotaped in his own office.

Davis said officials refused to meet with her to discuss her concerns, even after she wrote a memorandum to James Willerson, president of the Houston center, and sent a copy to Mark Yudof, chancellor of the UT System.

Yudof is expected to be named president of the University of California System next week. A spokesman for Yudof said the chancellor was not available for comment Friday, and Willerson did not respond to a request for comment submitted to a spokesman.

No child pornography, the presence of which would constitute a violation of federal law, was found in the examination of the Houston center computers by UT System police. After being contacted by Davis, the FBI concluded in 2004 that none of the content on the computers constituted child porn.

It’s not clear whether employees who viewed pornographic material broke any state laws. No law specifically bars computer users from visiting pornographic Web sites, said Thomas Johnson, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Information Resources.

However, the Texas Administrative Code, which has the force of law, says information resources “shall be used only for intended purposes as defined by the state agency and consistent with applicable laws.”

…in the deposition, McKinney defended the decision to reprimand all but one of the employees. And he acknowledged that he did not order investigators to examine the computers of as many as 300 other employees to determine the extent of the problem.

Instead, he said, he notified all center employees that viewing pornography was prohibited, on the assumption that the problem was even wider.

“I can tell you that we took an approach that would address the issue for all 4,500 employees, not just those 10, not just the hundred that – they came up with 300, whatever the number was,” McKinney said.

In his deposition, Chaffin testified that Yudof never contacted him about the Houston pornography investigation. Yudof said in an affidavit that Willerson responded to Davis’ memo because this was “an institutional matter.”

Chaffin also said he expressed concern about Davis’ ethics to her supervisor, Sharon Corum, but did not tell Corum to fire Davis. That contrasts with Davis’ and Corum’s views of the matter. In a 2006 deposition, Corum testified that no one directly told her that Davis should be terminated. But, Corum said, Chaffin asked her “on several occasions” whether Davis had been fired.

“I felt under pressure because he repeatedly kept asking me what the status was, and I knew that Charlie did not like it that I had not yet terminated her,” Corum said.

When asked by Shellist, Davis’ lawyer, whether Chaffin’s high-ranking position in the UT System caused her to feel pressure to fire Davis, Corum answered, “Yes, yes.”

“Because I believe he had the authority to impact my career and whether or not I had my job,” Corum testified.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld most of a January 2007 ruling by U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore of Houston that said Davis could pursue a wide range of free speech claims. The appellate ruling turned on whether Davis’ complaints were made as an employee or as a citizen who was raising issues of public concern. Davis’ claims could proceed only if she made them as a citizen, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit ruled.

The appeals court rejected two of Davis’ claims – both based on her concern about officials’ inadequate response to the disclosure of pornography viewing – and allowed four others to be heard in the trial court. Gilmore has scheduled a September trial.

The claims that were allowed to proceed were made either to outside entities or ones that didn’t relate directly to her job duties. They include complaints about excessive pay for UT-Houston officials, racial discrimination in hiring and firing, and concerns about the presence of pornography on health science center computers.

Davis filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about discriminatory hiring practices at the Houston center, but the agency didn’t issue any finding, Shellist said.

In the dankprofessor’s opinion, this case provides further evidence that pornography has become an everyday part of American life, including Americans’ working life. It would be fair to state that pornography has become normalized or, if you will, significantly de-stigmatized. Attempts to combat pornography has its limits.

Attempts to penalize or fire employees who have viewed pornography on the university’s or health center’s computers becomes a threat in itself, such could very well disrupt the functioning of the organization. Apparently, such even occurs at institutions that are committed to the health and well being of its citizen-patients. And what is ironic in the current investigation is that many of those who are anti-pornography invoke a health medical framework in articulating their opposition to pornography. Invoking a health rhetoric becomes increasingly difficult when as this case reveals that many health professionals are viewing porn at work, so many that efforts to limit pornography at work must be limited.

So when it comes to limiting porn availability, one can talk the talk, but if one really tries to walk the walk, one can end up walking the plank. This case reaffirms for the dankprofessor that the war on pornography is over. Advocates against porn are on the defensive since there is no defense; so-called filtering is obviously a stopgap measure, the effectiveness of which is severely limited. How to limit access to porn by children still remains a hard issue to resolve, but attempts to limit the access to porn by willing adults is a non-starter. And this is as it should be- adults having the freedom to choose what they view and read and where they view it as long as they do not force it upon the unwilling.

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008
 

March 22, 2008 Posted by | ethics, higher education, litigation, pornography, sex, sexual politics, sexual rights, University of Texas Houston, workplace | Leave a comment

“Vag Club” depicts giant vagina at Harvard

The Harvard’s College Women’s Center is presenting an art exhibition which focuses on body issues. The Harvard Crimson reported that the “largest piece in the show is an over-sized photograph of a vagina, complete with pubic hair and a manifesto. The work, entitled “The Vag Club,” connects final clubs to the vulva and is just one of the many works that illuminates how art can address social issues at Harvard.”The dankprofessor was not surprised to learn that of all the art exhibited, “The Vag Club” has received by far the most attention. In fact, it is apparently quite difficult to avoid. As the Harvard Crimson reports-

“The Vag Club,” for instance, is not a reiteration of hackneyed sentiments about the body. As people walked by the over-sized photograph of a vagina, they expressed shock, enthusiastic approval, and understanding. Jenna M. Mellor ’08, who created the piece in response to an assignment for Visual and Environmental Studies 65: “Tactics-Art, Politics and Performance,” admits that she wanted her work to border on absurdity. “Vaginas do not always treat vaginas nicely. In fact it seems as though vaginas hate vaginas,” one manifesto statement reads. “Non vaginas promise to bring the vagina lots of wet vaginas with big tits,” another asserts. These strong declarations help elicit the reflective reactions that the artist had intended.

“I was shocked to see a vagina that big in my face. It’s not something that we’re used to seeing,” says Natasha Alford ’08, who calls “The Vag Club” her favorite piece. “But as somebody who frequents final clubs, I never really made that explicit connection, how body and spaces are connected. It was really thought-provoking.”

The “Vag Club” manifesto creates a linkage between the Harvard elite final clubs with their very restrictive membership which is sex segregated and predominantly male to the very restrictive policies regarding entry into vaginal space. As the Harvard Crimson puts it: “Both are exclusive sites to which access is desired by many but granted to few.”

However, it is unclear as to how far “The Vag” manifesto wishes to take this comparison. There has been much opposition to the sex segregation as practiced by the Harvard final clubs and some discard these final clubs as archaic fraternal organization, or to put it more bluntly, they are fraternities wrapping themselves in a pseudo-sophisticated rhetoric. In other words, final clubs should be demystified and discarded.

If one takes the vaginal comparison seriously then one could argue that vaginas should be demystified and be open to pedestrian entry. If such be the case, “Vag Club” art and/or manifesto is not really needed since pornography often effectively functions to demystify and pedestrian vaginal entry is considered to be axiomatic in the porn world.

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 13, 2008 Posted by | ethics, feminism, Harvard University, higher education, pornography, sex, sexual politics | Leave a comment

Harvard coeds to go nude

(For an update, 11/18/09/, on this story click here. And for a post relating to a Harvard coed and her  sexual relationship with a Harvard TF, click here.)

Harvard women prepare to go nude in the new online magazine Diamond to be published by Harvard student Matthew M. Di Pasquale. Di Pasquale began to solicit Harvard coeds for nude photo opportunities via the Dunston House email list in February. The Harvard Crimson reported yesterday that “Harvard women posing nude alongside their theses just might be the way Diamond magazine wins over feminists.”

On Thursday evening Diamond founder Di Pasquale and Harvard student H Bomb editor Brandon Perkovich (H Bomb is an ongoing sexually orientated publication at Harvard) met with a dozen Harvard undergraduates at the Harvard Women’s Center to discuss the sexually orientated publications. The discussion was sponsored by the Radcliffe Union of Students.

Much of the discussion put Di Pasquale on the defensive. He told the crowd numerous times that Diamond’s purpose is to allow women to “express themselves” in a pro-sex light-not to objectify them-and that he understands their concerns about typical pornography.

“One of the ideas behind Diamond is that [the models] are not just sexy girls, but intelligent, smart, successful, Harvard girls,” he said. “I want the reader to understand who they are what they’re doing in their lives. I read the interviews in Maxim.”

While H Bomb received praise-Julia T. Havard ’11 said that it was “artistic expression” with “a message behind it”-some of those present feared that Diamond would be less like H Bomb and more like mainstream pornography.

“[Pornography] perpetuates the idea in society that it’s okay to see women on a page, that it’s acceptable in society to objectify women in terms of sexual attractiveness,” said Shanti S. Kris ’11, who identified herself as a feminist.

“In rape, you’re objectifying women through a violent action, so the danger is that it makes it acceptable to look at women as objects,” she said.

But despite the fact that the discussion became spirited at times, the conversation ended on a positive note, with those present praising the rise in sexual publications on campus.

Di Pasquale indicated that the premiere issue of Diamond will be on May 12. “Di Pasquale said that day will be a celebration of women and pornography-and perhaps the start of a profitable, enjoyable business venture.”

In a February article, the Harvard Crimson reported that the then  Harvard student editor of H Bomb, Michelle E. Crentsil, supports the efforts of Di Pasquale. “I think artistic magazines involving the way people think about their bodies is always a great thing,” Crentsil said.

DiPasquale did not dispute the reference to Diamond as an artistic magazine.

“Diamond will be more mainstream-”more Hollywood”-à la Maxim or Playboy, he said. Diamond will feature nude female models and possibly shirtless males, but not explicit sex acts, he said.

He said that he sees potential in Harvard women to make Diamond a “really sexy magazine.”

Not everyone is excited about Diamond’s debut. Leo J. Keliher ‘10, co-president of the premarital sexual abstinence group True Love Revolution said he believes that anything that allows men to look at and fantasize about women “just objectifies women.”

But campus sex blogger Lena Chen ‘09 gave her nod of approval to Diamond. “I think that any increase in dialogue about sex on campus is certainly positive because Harvard is kind of Puritanical,” she said.

Maybe somewhat Puritanical but not as puritanical as Yale. The dankprofessor cannot imagine the Yale Women’s Center hosting a discussion with the editor of a campus publication which was recruiting Yale female students to pose nude. We have two different worlds here. In fact, the Yale Women’s Center ultimatum to the Yale administration to respond to their demand for corrective action by March 7 regarding the Yale fraternity “I love Yale sluts” imbroglio did not pass  without notice.  Click here for an update.

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 8, 2008 Posted by | ethics, feminism, Harvard University, higher education, nudity, pornography, sex, sexual politics, Yale University | 1 Comment

Rape on film at Yale

It was only a couple of weeks ago, February 13 to be exact, that the dankprofessor blogged on the escalating rhetoric at Yale regarding male fraternity members holding up a “Yale sluts” placard in the front of the Women’s Center; the Women’s Center Board characterized the placard incident and photos of the incident being circulated on email “as fraternity- sponsored or enabled sexual harassment, assault and rape”. Certainly, the fraternity members use of this placard was untoward, but the statement that the placard in essence sponsored rape seemed to the dankprofessor as inflammatory, and ultimately functions to “trivialize” rape. Name-calling should not be conflated with rape; words should not be conflated with actions. Social scientist know based on decades of research that words are not predictive of deeds.

Presently Yale is having its annual “Sex Week at Yale”. The dankprofessor was not surprised to learn that a component of sex week was on pornography. As reported by L. Brent Bozell on on the Media Research Center blog, the sex week organizers invited Paul Thomas of Vivid Entertainment to show films and have a question and answer period. The Vivid films were shown without any pre-screening by the sex week organizers. “Some of the footage shown by Thomas included graphic rape fantasies and the labeling of a woman as a “slut” who “deserved” violent sexual degradation.”

Before the films excerpts were completed, feminists from the Yale Women’s Center entered and “Presca Ahn, who is the “fellowship coordinator” there, declared: “In porn, sex is not a normal, healthy part of normal, healthy lives; it’s fetishized, exaggerated or embellished. Porn isn’t honest. We need to talk honestly about it: it hurts women.” Then the session went right into Q and A.

The Yale Daily News reported that Colin Adamo, Sex Week event coordinator, called the screening a grave mistake. “We really dropped the ball on this one,” he said. “No one watched the movie before Paul showed it to the audience.” But the Vivid representative “insinuated that he (Adamo) was a prude and just needed to watch more porn.”

The dankprofessor has no comment on the prudishness characterization of Adamo; certainly Adamo can be characterized as naïve. To assume that Vivid porn DVDs would not cause offense to some of those in attendance is naïve. I would also consider it to be naïve that holding a sex week which would not be offensive to some of the Yale students some of the time is extremely naïve. To have a completely inoffensive sex week one would have to go back to the American tradition of sex censorship. To really deal with the offensiveness issue, Yale would have to prohibit sex week.

As for the Yale Women’s Center rep indicating that porn “hurts women”, such is a problematic characterization. What we do know about porn is that porn leads most of the time to viewer masturbation. Just about everyone knows this, the producers, the actors, the observers, the condemners, the viewers. So if one holds that male masturbation hurts women then the Yale Women’s Center rep has a point.

However, solitary “consensual” masturbation, or mutual consensual masturbation is now ofen viewed as safe sex. But obviously some hold that so-called safe sex is actually hurtful sex. And when it comes to masturbation from an historical perspective, those believing in the hurtful scenario carry the day.

So I do not think I am going out on a limb when I state that too many campus feminists, too many Yale campus feminists, too often engage in traditional anti-sexual Puritanism, an anti-sexual Puritanism that has not been unknown in Yale’s home state, Connecticut.

(Click here for an addendum on this post.)

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 6, 2008 Posted by | ethics, feminism, higher education, masturbation, pornography, rape, sex, Yale University | 2 Comments

   

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