Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Suicide and its aftermath

After the suicide  this past August of  University of Iowa  political science professor Arthur Miller, the President of UI mandated sexual harassment training for all faculty.  In a sexually obsessed culture, such is to be expected.  What President Sally Mason should have considered is the mandating of suicide prevention training and the creation of campus suicide prevention hotlines.  If the University of Iowa had such a program in place, maybe the recent suicide of Professor Mark Weiger could have been prevented.

Of course, we will never know what could have been, but what we do know is that the University of Iowa administration valued suicide prevention training as having lesser value than sexual harassment training.
As reported by The Daily Iowan of November 19:

While more than 50 universities have received a federal grant to set up suicide-prevention training, the University of Iowa likely won’t apply for the funding because of a lack of time and resources.

The UI considered the grant in past years but hasn’t applied because of the extensive time commitment in the proposal process, said Sam Cochran, the director of University Counseling Service.

“We struggle to fulfill student demand for appointments on a daily basis,” he said. “That grant-proposal process would require a part-time or full-time position to [handle], which just can’t happen right now. Our priority is serving the students lining up at our door.”

Such is the case of the University of Iowa even though “…suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students in the United States. Ten percent of college students report having seriously considered killing themselves, according to the American College Health Association.”

No data or attention is given to the prevention of suicide by suicide prevention programs for university faculty.

The fact that the UI administration response to a faculty suicide was to order faculty sexual harassment training is surreal.  Someone at the UI needs to try to get the University of Iowa beyond its present sexual myopia.  In the dankprofessor’s opinion, a good starting point would be the resignation of UI President Sally Mason.

November 23, 2008 Posted by | ethics, higher education, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics, suicide, University of Iowa | 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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