Because to take away a man’s freedom of choice, even His freedom to make the wrong choice, is to manipulate him as though he were a puppet and not a person.
The Young Unicorns
When we speak of people coming out, I think such generally implies that one is coming out of some sort of “closet”. One has been closeted since one fears that being known would lead to one being hurt in some sense.
Apparently Republicans at the University of University of Iowa have been living in fear and have been closeted. So some UI Republicans have called for a coming out on campus at specific times and places via sending a coming out announcement to all university personnel.
Such has raised quite a ruckus at the University of Iowa. Even a UI Women’s Studies professor engaged in some very foul language regarding the coming out announcement. Even the President of UI has issued a statement on the issue.
Following is a detailed report as to the situation at UI and Iowa City.
A University of Iowa professor who studies same-sex relationships was so upset by a mass email from a campus Republican group promoting “Conservative Coming Out Week” that she fired off a vulgarity aimed at all Republicans.
Ellen Lewin, a professor of Anthropology and Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies in the Department of Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies, responded to the email by writing, “F*** YOU, REPUBLICANS” from her official University of Iowa email account.
Lewin’s message prompted a flurry of e-mails in response, all of which were published on The Iowa Republican, a GOP news website.
UI student and Chairwoman of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans Natalie Ginty demanded an apology from Lewin’s supervisors.
“We understand that as a faculty member she has the right to express her political opinion, but by leaving her credentials at the bottom of the email she was representing the University of Iowa, not herself alone,” Ginty wrote to James Enloe, the head of the Department of Anthropology.
“Vile responses like Ellen’s need to end. Demonizing the other party through name-calling only further entrenches feelings of disdain for the other side. I am sure you understand that nothing is ever accomplished by aimless screams of attack,” Ginty wrote.
Lewin later wrote back to explain, “This is a time when political passions are inflamed, and when I received your unsolicited email, I had just finished reading some newspaper accounts of fresh outrages committed by Republicans in government. I admit the language was inappropriate, and apologize for any affront to anyone’s delicate sensibilities. I would really appreciate your not sending blanket emails to everyone on campus, especially in these difficult times.”
In a later email to the group, Lewin wrote the following:
“I should note that several things in the original message were extremely offensive, nearly rising to the level of obscenity. Despite the Republicans’ general disdain for LGBT rights you called your upcoming event ‘conservative coming out day,’ appropriating the language of the LGBT right movement. Your reference to the Wisconsin protests suggested that they were frivolous attempts to avoid work. And the ‘Animal Rights BBQ’ is extremely insensitive to those who consider animal rights an important cause. Then, in the email that Ms. Ginty sent complaining about my language, she referred to me as Ellen, not Professor Lewin, which is the correct way for a student to address a faculty member, or indeed, for anyone to refer to an adult with whom they are not acquainted. I do apologize for my intemperate language, but the message you all sent out was extremely disturbing and offensive.”
UI President Sally Mason responded in an email to the university community:
“Dear Members of the University Community:
The University of Iowa encourages freedom of expression, opposing viewpoints, and civil debate about those opposing viewpoints. This is clearly articulated in our core values of Diversity and Respect. Because diversity, broadly defined, advances its mission of teaching, research, and service, the University is dedicated to an inclusive community in which people of different cultural, national, individual, and academic backgrounds encounter one another in a spirit of cooperation, openness, and shared appreciation.
The University also strongly encourages student engagement in such discussions and supports students acting on their viewpoints. Student organizations are sometimes formed along political lines and act on their political beliefs. Even if we personally disagree with those viewpoints, we must be respectful of those viewpoints in every way. Intolerant and disrespectful discord is not acceptable behavior.
The original e-mail from the College Republicans was sent out under the university’s mass email policy, in which campus groups can e-mail all or parts of campus so long as the message is approved by UI Student Services:
From: UI College Republicans
Subject: [NonAcadStudorg] Conservative Coming Out Week
Conservatives in Iowa City it is now time to come out of the closet!
I know at times it feels like you are the only person that disagrees with this liberal town, but you are not alone! We are asking all Republicans, Independents leaning right, or just anyone slightly frustrated with the current one party controlling every level of Johnson County, and some levels of Iowa and U.S. government to STAND UP!
Conservative Coming Out Week will be April 18th – April 22nd. Here is the schedule of events that will be going on throughout the week:
Monday: Whose Conservative Anyway? Guess which athletes, movie stars, and performing artists are Republican. 11-1 on Kautz Plaza off of the T. Anne Cleary Walkway.
Tuesday: Red vs. Blue Blood Drive from 2 to 6pm at the Carnival Room in Burge. Competition between the Republicans and Democrats for a good cause!
-College Republican meeting that night at 8pm in 71 Schaeffer Hall with showing of “Journey’s with George” in honor of President George W. Bush.
Wednesday: Come pick up your Doctors’ Notice to miss class for “sick of being stress”, just like the Wisconsin public employees during the union protests from 11 to 1 on the Pentacrest.
Thursday: Red vs Blue games! Beat the UDems in kickball and flag football from 4-6 in Hubbard Park. Wear your respective political parties color!
Stick around for a Animal Rights BBQ at 6 p.m.
Friday: Wear RED Day! Come out of the closet and show your true colors!
Should be a great week! Lets come out!
Sexual harassment, so-called hostile environment sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape continue to be conflated as indicated by a the complaint of 16 Yale students to the Dept. Of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (the OCR) and the public responses to said complaint.
As dissident feminist Wendy Kaminer points out the group’s complaint
“reportedly includes testimony about sexual assaults, but the hostile-environment charge against the university rests as well on a litany of complaints about offensive exercises of First Amendment freedoms. A December 2010 draft complaint letter, obtained by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), focuses on these “incidents”: In 2006, a group of frat boys chant “No means yes, yes means anal” outside the Yale Women’s Center. In 2010, a group of fraternity pledges repeat this obnoxious chant outside a first-year women’s dorm. In 2008, pledges surround the Women’s Center holding signs saying, “We love Yale sluts.” In 2009, Yale students publish a report listing the names and addresses of first-year women and estimating the number of beers “it would take to have sex with them.”
It is these public incidents that have engaged the public’s attention and brought forth a condemnation of sexual harassment/assault by Vice President Biden. But what some call sexual harassment boils down in the dankprofessor terms as obnoxious and offensive behavior. And the terms used are of import since offensive and obnoxious behavior are constitutionally protected and university sexual harassment codes, particularly of the hostile environment genre, may impinge on constitutionally protected speech.
For example, take the “Yale Sluts” sign which was held up by a group of Zeta Psi Fraternity members in front of the Yale Women’s Center and then the circulation of this imagery in the wider campus community. In response to this incident the Women’s Center called for “an overhaul of the University’s sexual-harassment and assault education policies, increased regulation of fraternities, disciplinary actions against Zeta Psi members…” The Center’s board indicated they will continue in their ongoing quest to end the “fraternity-sponsored or enabled sexual harassment, assault and rape” they had observed on campus.
So putting it in rather blunt terms condemning the Zeta Psi actions as offensive is not enough; the problem according to the Women’s Center is that the Zeta Psi members are rape enablers. And the dankprofessor surmises that those who assert that the actions of the Zeta Psi members are constitutionally protected, they too are at risk of being labeled as rape enablers.
What was and is needed at Yale is some form of conflict resolution between fraternities and women’s organizations. But based on my information in the three years since the 2008 incident, there has been no communication at Yale between Zeta Psi and organizations such as the Women’s Center.
Name-calling whether it be sluts or rape enablers is puerile. The basic problem at Yale is one of civility. The problem of civility will not be ameliorated by taking this situation into an adversarial legal system, and using the media as a means of demonizing the “other side”.
The only thing Elizabeth Esther gets right in her article, “BYU, It’s Not About Sex It’s About Honor“, occurs when she states “I’m just not a fan of prolonged punishment and public humiliation”.
BYU basketball player Brandon Davies goes to the BYU authorities and tells them in private of his violation of the honor code. Then BYU morally violates him by putting him thru a public degradation ceremony. Such also impacts on his teammates ability to function as a cohesive winning unit.
Why couldn’t BYU wait until the end of the semester to punish Davies? Why did they need to go public? What is not stated in the article is that not only was Davies immediately suspended as a basketball player, but also suspended as a student. The BYU mentality reflects a mob rule mentality. It reflects a mentality of immediate gratification.
BYU acted in a dishonorable manner in the way they treated Brandon Davies who as a student has now learned how a so-called religion treats young adherents who may have strayed from their moral code.
What BYU did to Davies has nothing to do with religious values but rather the values associated with authoritarianism.
Basketball player Bandon Davies suspension from BYU supposedly resulted from his violation of BYU’s Honor Code, a code which all BYU students must sign.
So supporters of this code argue that the suspension was all about “honor” and honor in this specific case is living a chaste life, a life which precludes pre-marital sex.
Or to put it in dankprofessor terms, BYU in essence argues that all sex outside of marriage has no value and brings dishonor to those engaging in such sex. So not suspending Davies would bring dishonor to BYU. Such is patently anti-sexual and patronizing. It reduces students to children who must obey the codes of their elder parents. To become a student member of BYU, one must sign an oath that reduces the signatories to that of children who have no personal autonomy, no zone of privacy and intimacy. Such represents a form of totalitarianism, a form of totalitarianism that has no place in college athletics and certainly no place in NCAA sports competition.
The BYU punitive public response to Brandon Davies so-called code violation becomes a public degradation of a young talented athlete. Certainly, BYU authorities could have handled their sexual bigotry in a discreet manner; dealing with what most people consider a private manner in a private and personal way.
The dankprofessor says shame on BYU and calls for the NCAA to consider sanctions against BYU for abusing a student athlete.
And I understand that others may see this quite differently. For example, some BYU supporters hold that BYU is beyond secular regulation and that the team is on a “mission from God.”
To gain some historical perspective on this, I present the following.
The Brigham Young University’s so-called Honor Code is given some historical perspective in the following passage from BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY; A HOUSE OF FAITH by Gary Bergera and Ronald Pridis-
Early Rules and Enforcement
Brigham Young University is perhaps best known for its proscriptions against alcohol, coffee and tea, tobacco, premarital sex, coeducational housing, long hair, and short dresses. But only since the late 1960s have specific rules regarding behavior and dress become institutionalized as permanent standards of student conduct. Although previous BYU presidents had emphasized or de-emphasized adherence to moral standards according to their particular ideological bent, the trend during the 1960s towards greater regimentation was largely a reaction of President Ernest L. Wilkinson to developments on other American college campuses during the same era, when traditional western values were being questioned by students nationwide. Initially, officials at Brigham Young Academy offered relatively little supervision for undergraduates outside of school, which was an unusual approach to discipline for the period, especially in view of the average age of the student body–fourteen years–and the fact that many students were away from home for the first time (Smith). The academy’s 1876 Prospectus contained only a vague warning that “every student shall, in and out of school, cultivate a gentlemanly or lady-like deportment, and avoid all unbecoming associations that might reflect discreditably upon [themselves] or the institution [they have] the honor to attend.” Students were told that if they committed acts of delinquency, they would be “reprimanded by the principal,” and that in serious cases a note would be sent home to their parents. Otherwise, students were apparently free to do as they pleased off campus. Such an approach reflected BYA principal Karl G. Maeser’s European upbringing and education, where the closely supervised dormitory system of British and American schools was untried. In fact, compulsory dormitories originated in seventeenth century England, where undergraduates enrolled in college at the age of fifteen, and gradually disappeared in the late nineteenth century as the age of entering students increased to nineteen years.1
[p. 94] As steeped as Maeser was in the Saxon method of leaving after-school discipline to students’ parents, after three years as principal he came to realize that because “the students behaved so badly” off-campus, additional measures would be necessary to guarantee his pupils’ moral safety and to protect the good name of his academy. Maeser thus devised a housecheck program, christened the Domestic Organization, which provided that students would be “visited in their residences at stated intervals by [faculty] representatives.” Furthermore, one student per house was to be appointed to “act as Senior,” to attend meetings with the principal, and to encourage conformity to BYA standards among peers. Defending his Domestic Organization at an 1880 assembly, Maeser answered critics, “Some may think it none of my business where they are or what they do when out of school, but that is the law of the academy, and if they wish [it] to be none of my business, all they have to do is leave.”2
During the Domestic Organization’s first year, 1881-82, Maeser forbade “vulgar language, profanity, or obscenity in any form, smoking, [and] the use of strong drinks.” Three years later, Maeser’s pupils were forbidden from attending “public or private parties without a written permit from the principal.” In February 1885, twenty-two-year-old chemistry instructor James E. Talmage was appointed “assistant to the principal over giving permission to go to parties and [over] receiving excuses for being away from home after academy hours,” defined as eight o’clock on week nights and ten o’clock on weekends. The previous year, faculty also advised students against “attending the skating rink” and loitering near stores, on street corners, or near the train station.3
Although these and other regulations appeared extensive, students soon discovered that enforcement of Maeser’s rules would be minimal. Students learned, for example, that faculty assigned to visit their boarding rooms visited them only for “counseling and advising,” not for “espionage or individual surveillance.” Maeser kept his 1880 promise to the students, when the Domestic Organization was first introduced, that they would be “on their honor” to confirm or deny accusations made against them and that “any student who [wanted] to make himself smart by disobeying the rules without being found out [was] perfectly welcome to all the honor and glory resulting from such a course.”4
Besides being privately reprimanded by the principal, students who were observed–or admitted to–violating Domestic Organization rules could also be placed under “house arrest.” But as one faculty member recalled, “House arrest was too formal and did little to retard the natural exuberance and instincts of normal young men” (Swensen). House arrest and curfew both proved simple enough for enterprising students to circumvent by sneaking out of back windows. The BYA [p. 95] Studentnewspaper joked that “since the subject of marriage was considered in Brother Keeler’s theology [class], domestic visitors complain that they can’t find the boys at home. Probably the young ladies can tell where they spend their time.” In 1895, under Maeser’s progressive successor, Benjamin Cluff, Jr., the Domestic Organization was reorganized so that students were assigned to visit fellow students, thus relieving the faculty of this largely unwanted chore. Determining and enforcing rules, according to the school catalog, was placed “as much as possible in the hands of the students, with the view of developing in them the power of self-government.” “The greatest liberty possible [is] allowed the students,” Cluff added the following year, “until by some overt act they demonstrate that they are not able to use that liberty with wisdom and discretion” (“President’s Report”). Specific rules were eventually eliminated in favor of the general statement, “Students who are irregular in their habits, keep late hours, have improper associates, or visit any place of bad or questionable repute, are liable to be placed under special restrictions and regulations” (Circular).5
Although Cluff had little tolerance for adolescent mischief, he considered it futile to try to coerce students to behave–a viewpoint he probably acquired while studying at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. When at Cluff’s invitation, acclaimed liberal educator John Dewey delivered ten lectures at the BYA Summer School in 1901, he told his audience that “the reason for giving [children] freedom . . . is to be found in the fact that only through freedom can [they] develop responsibility.” Too many educators, he added, “carry the entire burden of the school themselves, leaving the children barbarians and savages–unable to face any responsibility of life when it comes.”6
Under Cluff’s replacement, George H. Brimhall, the university gradually reverted to increased regimentation and administrative surveillance. The 1910 Quarterly instructed students that within the limits of “honor and personal righteousness demanded of good citizens and consistent Latter-day Saints,” they would be given “the fullest freedom.” Brimhall’s interpretation of this broad statement included a ban on “pool halls and bowling alleys,” which had not been specifically forbidden since Maeser’s time. Furthermore, students were told, “the president of the university may announce additions to these rules at any time.” Brimhall asked theology teachers in 1911 to make periodic inquiries into student behavior and to “hand in to the presidency a list of students violating the regulations.” The Domestic Organization was converted into a student court, through which students were encouraged to try classmates for such infractions as “profanity, persistently idling away time, use of tobacco or intoxicants, and frequenting places of questionable repute” (Quarterly, 1919-20). Those found guilty were required to apologize for their behavior, pay [p. 96] a small fine, or renounce their student body privileges. An adverse judgment from the student court often also resulted in a further hearing with the BYU Administrative Council, where penalties included suspension and expulsion. Besides establishing a student court, the faculty/student Board of Control, which oversaw student government, suggested the establishment of a “student police force,” with a “chief of police” and “secret service men.” The board finally settled for a “Social Service Committee,” which sounded less clandestine but probably served the same purpose (WB, 16 Feb. 1915). Another innovation of the Board of Control was a 1916 staff of “student disciplinarians,” who were responsible for “clear[ing] the halls and radiators of loafers” at the beginning of each class period.7
When Brimhall was succeeded by Franklin Harris, BYU experienced yet a third shift in discipline, this time towards the former, more lenient policies of Benjamin Cluff. Harris assured students that during his tenure there would be “no particular rules to live up to except to be men and women in the real sense” (YN, 26 Sept. 1923). He reported the following year that the university took pride in being “an institution practically without rules,” adding, “We simply expect every student to be a gentleman or a lady, and [we] leave largely to each individual [the] responsibility for doing this as best he [or she] can.” Six years later in 1930, Harris again emphasized, “Brigham Young boasts that it gets along without disciplinary rules of conduct for the students,” reiterating that the school “merely requires that students shall be Latter-day Saint ladies and gentlemen.” In 1925, at the recommendation of Dean of Women Ethel Butt, Harris authorized a curfew for coeds–11:00 on week nights and 12:30 on weekends–which was subsequently expanded to include men, but the curfew was never conscientiously enforced. Butt later successfully pushed for a regulation prohibiting men and women students from living in the same house or building (YN, 15 Sept. 1930). With these two exceptions, however, Harris held to his promise of keeping rules to a minimum and of leaving their enforcement to students. Only when he was abroad for the 1939-40 school year, overseeing the establishment of an Iranian department of agriculture, did the faculty Attendance and Scholarship Committee break a twenty-year tradition and enunciate a list of specific regulations for students. The committee’s “Standards and Rules Governing Student Conduct at BYU” prohibited the use of tobacco and “intoxicating liquor,” required that students “maintain order in all buildings of the institution,” and stipulated that “women are not permitted to enter the living quarters of men except when properly chaperoned.” Despite the committee’s best intentions, however, their list did not last long and was never printed in the school catalog
On the Tucson Massacre
By Barry M. Dank
The mantra of too many people weighing in on the Tucson killer is the idea that such persons and their acts are inexplicable, random acts of madmen. Any invocation that Jared Loughner’s behavior has any sort of political or social underpinning is discarded.
However, it would be preposterous to say that killers of the Laughner genre are not influenced by words. Whether we like it or not they are a part of the same human condition of which we are a part. People who engage in mass or serial killings have been influenced by toxic environments which function to both create and focus feelings of anger, hostility, worthlessness and powerlessness.
For some, homicidal ideation and fantasies never lead to lethal behavior. Simple possession of guns, even an arsenal of guns may serve as a power gratification which may never lead to any lethal behavior. However, whether one goes beyond fantasy thinking may very well depend on the social context of which one is a part.
For Laughner it appears that he developed a grudge toward Gabrielle Griffins in 2007; yet it was not until 2011 that said grudge was apparently activated into an act of violence. It therefore becomes relevant to ask what were the environments that Laughner was exposed to in recent years.
I suggest that the environment of the 2010 campaign for congress between Jesse Kelly and Gabrielle Giffords might have lead to a violent reaction by Laughner. During October 2010 until the November election, Giffords was subject to a continual barrage of degrading rhetoric from Jesse Kelly. Such reached a crescendo when on October 9 Kelly stated to a rally of Tucson Tea Partiers- “Aren’t you tired of having people spit in your face. You know what we do about people who spit in your face; we make them unemployed in November. (To fully appreciate the Kelly tirade against Giffords, please click the link.)
People of the psyche of the Tucson killer are likely to have felt that people have spat in their face their entire lives. Kelly creates Giffords as a symbol of the degrading other. The rhetoric of Kelly could have functioned to legitimize and intensify Laughner’s irrational hatred of Giffords.
But Kelly did present a way out for people like Laughner who feel disenchanted and alienated. Their way out was the election of Jesse Kelly; Kelly promised that if elected they would never be left out.
Such was not to be since Kelly lost the election. In late November Laughner bought an automatic weapon. And Laughner used his first opportunity to shoot Giffords and anybody else in her vicinity on January 8.
The scenario presented is of a speculative nature, but certainly not beyond the realm of possibility, not beyond the mind of the delusional and unstable. And certainly not a part of a well thought out political agenda.
It should be made clear that I do not think that Jesse Kelly and others of his political genre have any legal responsibility for the shooting, but I believe that Jesse Kelly and all politicians have a responsibility in the moral sense of creating a climate which is inhospitable to haters.
Nor should censorship ever be invoked in political campaigns.
What should be invoked is self-restraint and a moral condemnation of persons who engage in irresponsible rhetoric.
SEX MATTERS has a powerful post in part on how the holding of Assange in the UK is part of using sex and the protection of women as a convenient strategy to attempt to neutralize men such as Assange. SEX MATTERS – puts it this way-
Who after all can object to steps being taken to “protect” women? Well, hopefully, women.
Because time and time again, when politicians talk about women in this way, the last thing on their mind is protection. Rather, it is in their interests to co-opt women to otherwise dubious causes and to shelter behind the excuse of “looking after” the “weaker” sex.
Its pretty revolting. But absolutely to be expected.
Yes, it is pretty revolting that the Swedes probably at the beckoning of the US are attempting to hold Assange in detention to protect Swedish women. It is also sad that the UK goes along with this mythology by holding Assange under house arrest after holding him in prison for so-called Swedish justice for one week. If the Swedes are intent on questioning Assange who has not been charged with any criminal offense, then let them come to London to question him. Such should not be a problem. Certainly less of a moral problem than forcing Assange to raise $300,000 so he could be put under house arrest.
Arguing that Assange should be under any form of arrest so that Swedish women could obtain justice is analogous to arguing that Bill Clinton was impeached by the Republican House so that justice for Lewinsky could be obtained, even if she really didn’t want justice.
This whole Swedish scenario is similar to what occurs on too many American university campuses. After all, who could possibly object to protecting women college students from falling into consensual sexual relationships with professors. Of course, said women could object. But no matter for the powers that be, these women, no matter what their age, need to be protected from these so-called predatory professors. And, of course, no matter that the student may have been the one who was “predatory.”
What would be good for justice at universities is for university police aka administrators to have their veils of secrecy discarded. No more- that this is a confidential personnel matter. University diplomacy needs to be fully exposed.
I usually do not blog on matters relating to K thru 12 but I will make an exception this time.
Turns out that a NYC teacher had at one time been a NYC hooker but had successfully transcended from hooker to teacher. Now she has gone public as to her past via the internet. Some want her fired because they hold she is not a good role model for children. From what I know about her she could be viewed as a “good” role model since she made the transition to conventional straight life.
Click here for the FOX video on this.
Billie Dziech is probably the most committed academic to obliterating student professor intimate relationships. She began her campaign in the 1980s with the publication of her tome THE LECHEROUS PROFESSOR and she continues her crusade to the present day. In 1998 in the Chronicle of Higher education she published an essay entitled“The Abuse of Power in Intimate Relationships”.
This essay has not been systematically critiqued and continues to circulate on the web. The CHE essay provides the dankprofessor an opportunity to critique Dziech’s “thinking” on this issue. So come along with me on this critical journey into the heart of Dziech; maybe we can find something of value. I have highlighted quoted material from her essay
While the tangled puzzle of the relationship between President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky may appear far removed from life on American campuses, that is not the case. The current scandal recalls recent campus debates about intimate relationships between people with differing degrees of power — usually faculty members and students — and whether those relationships can be genuinely consensual.
In addition, the Clinton-Lewinsky controversy has become a litmus test of Americans’ attitudes toward male-female relations, and a harbinger of future positions on gender issues. Students and educators should listen carefully to the debate.
It is obvious that educators contemplating intimate relationships with students need to look hard at the portrait the media have painted of Monica Lewinsky. Reports depict her as a child deeply scarred by her parents’ acrimonious divorce; as an overweight teenager who developed a crush on a popular high-school classmate and then carried on a lengthy affair with a former high-school teacher; and as a young woman who at some point may have idolized or pursued Bill Clinton.
There is a simple message in the details of this young life. Whether or not we admit its pathetic quality, we must all recognize that people such as Monica Lewinsky exist, and that they pose a significant threat to those who choose to become intimately involved with them. The younger the person, the more likely that individual is to engage in fantasy and in actions based on whim. The more wounded the individual is at the onset of a relationship, the more vulnerable and unstable that person is likely to be during and after the affair.
Explicit in her analysis of Lewinsky is that we are on safe grounds in basing a psychological evaluation of her on media reports. And, of course, Monica Lewinsky posed no significant threat to Clinton or anyone else. The significant threat came from Linda Tripp and Special Prosecutor Starr who used Tripp’s surreptitiously taped conversations with Monica. Linda Tripp and Prosecutor Starr systematically invaded the privacy of Lewinsky in order to invade the privacy of Clinton. But Dziech in her essay never mentions Tripp and mentions Starr only once in passing. And no where in this essay is there any mention of the role of third party informants and the ethical issues involved when universities use or employ third party informants in their attempt to expose student professor couples.
Hence academicians, like Presidents, are either naive or reckless when they engage in physical contact (or what Mr. Clinton has described as an “emotional relationship”) with impressionable, unpredictable students who are unlikely to comprehend the true parameters of such interactions. Professors and Presidents alike should be sophisticated enough to realize the dangers inherent in singling out a subordinate for special attention. Monica Lewinsky is a chilling reminder that even the gift of a book of poetry (especially one with erotic material, such as Leaves of Grass) can lead to disaster.
Again Monica did nothing chilling. It was the people who were out to get Clinton who engaged in chilling and dastardly behavior.
People in positions of authority cannot ignore the vulnerabilities of those in subordinate positions. Perhaps that is why Andy Bleiler, the former drama teacher with whom Monica Lewinsky was sexually involved, seems so disreputable. Contending that the 19-year-old Ms. Lewinsky was “obsessed with sex” and that she “stalked” and “trapped” him into a five-year affair, Mr. Bleiler claimed that the young woman had been “no victim.” But his assertion rang hollow, even with the omnipresent supportive wife standing at his side.
Of course, observers cannot ignore the vulnerabilities of those in the so-called superordinate positions. Persons in power positions become targets of other who wish to bring them down; some times by false charges, sometimes by frivolous civil suits. The fact is that when it comes to power figures everyone close to the so-called powerful is vulnerable. And when it comes to love and sex, one cannot truly love without making oneself emotionally vulnerable.
There is more at stake in the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal than just reputations, however. Educators should also note that countless Americans accept Mr. Bleiler’s portrait of the person Bill Clinton calls “that woman.” Those of us in academe who have fought for equality for women and the eradication of sexual harassment should be disturbed by polls such as one that found that men who had previously regarded the President as a “wimp” now were more inclined to support him — and to regard his wife positively because she once again “stood by her man.”
Of course, Clinton left office with high approval ratings. In fact, until the arrival of Barak Obama, Clinton was and possibly still is the most popular American politician in the world at large. His “affair” with Lewinsky did not hurt his stature, or that of his wife.
Already, the story of the President and the intern has revived old gender stereotypes that had seemed almost exhausted. The public appears to accept, without reservation, the image of Bill Clinton crafted by the Hollywood Houdini Harry Thomason and other supporters: He is struggling valiantly in adversity; he shoulders his burdens and carries on selflessly for family and country. Should it become necessary, those same supporters are undoubtedly prepared to portray Ms. Lewinsky as a delusional hysteric or a conniving predator who sullied an honest man’s virtue.
Well Billie Dziech must know that no politician is honest. Given all the attacks on Clinton, he still has emerged unsullied. No need for his supporters to sully Lewinsky since Dziech does a pretty good job of degrading and sullying her.
At present, though, the public doesn’t seem to need encouragement to view Ms. Lewinsky negatively. All it has to do is rely on stereotypes. Adhering perfectly to the old script on gender, a recent female caller to C-SPAN identified Ms. Lewinsky as “a wannabe.” The caller explained that she meant the kind of female found in every office or school, the kind who will do anything to be the boss’s or teacher’s “favorite.” One television commentator described Ms. Lewinsky as a “Valley girl,” another as “every woman’s nightmare.” Some enterprising citizen has been thoughtful enough to publish on the Internet either authentic or doctored nude pictures of Lewinsky. She has emerged as the pretty young thing who threatens hearth and home, because, presumably, even the strongest men are unable to resist a wily 21-year-old.
Dziech seems to be Lewinsky obsessed. Yes, she was in the public scene, but she was involuntarily dragged into said scene. Dziech needs to go beyond Lewinsky and focus on people who invade the privacy of others, such as Linda Tripp and Kenneth Starr.
That is surely a chilling portrait for those who have worked for laws and policies that encourage men to take responsibility for their sexual activities. Just when it appeared that Americans were beginning to “get” sexual harassment, just when the sexes seemed on the way to more mutual respect, along came the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal to demonstrate how overly optimistic that impression was. Nothing inappropriate may have happened between Lewinsky and Clinton, but, because of the allegations, society seems to have reverted, at least temporarily, to an escapist mentality of the past: “I don’t care what happened on campus, at work, or even in the Oval Office, so long as it doesn’t happen to me or my daughter.”
Oh, please, people are more caring than Dziech is willing to believe. Most people came to see, except for Republicans in Washington, that the Lewinsky affair was consensual, and the matter should be dropped except that it was OK to read so-called non-fiction tell all books on the Clinton Lewinsky scenario.
The consensus of the polls conducted since January seems to be that Americans are not particularly disturbed by a 51-year-old authority figure’s having sex with an intern less than half his age. If one listens to radio and television call-in shows or reads the polls, it appears that the old, dark days are here again — that once more, it is acceptable to view students and working women as seductresses preying upon naive males.
Its not the old dark days, but rather the live and let live days, the days of non-acceptance of the government coercing adults involved in consensual relationships. Dziech fails to understand and note that her so-called dark days were the same days that many Americans came to accept homosexuals at work, in government, as friends and as relatives.
An especially telling Newsweek survey reported that 45 per cent of the public believes that, if a sexual relationship did occur between Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton, it was her fault for pursuing him. Only 17 per cent accepted a basic tenet of sexual-harassment law: that a person who is in a position of power misuses his authority if he — or she — engages in sexual activity with a subordinate.
Only 17% accepted the so-called basic tenet of sexual harassment law since they viewed the Clinton Lewinsky relationship as consensual. Take away the dehumanizing subordinate rhetoric and most people will admit and accept the fact that they have been in power differentiated relationships which they believe were consensual. Dziech and others deny their perception of consensuality and wish to portray most Americans, particularly women, as victims.
It is little wonder that the public misunderstands that point. A month of exposure to the tortured logic of Administration officials and lawyers trying to minimize the scandal has demonstrated how easy it is to obscure the patently obvious point: It’s the sex that matters. In other words, if the alleged consensual relationship were legally, ethically, and socially acceptable, there would be no reason to discuss perjury, subornation of perjury, or obstruction of justice. If Mr. Clinton lied under oath and attempted to obscure the truth, it was because he understood what many, on campus and off, seem unwilling to admit publicly: Where an imbalance in authority exists, there can be no equality and thus no genuine consent.
Dziech is patently wrong here, out of touch with reality. Generally people are sympathetic to Clinton lying because the lying dealt with his private sex life. And people don’t want the government in their bedrooms. Bottom line the problem that Dziech cannot understand is that many people if not most people would do the same thing as Clinton did- refuse to tell the absolute truth about their sex lives.
The law, assuming that human beings are more than animals enslaved to their passions, demands that those in positions of power behave responsibly and rationally, no matter how immoral, stupid, or lascivious their subordinates might be. That legal mandate seems lost on a public content to dismiss Monica Lewinsky as someone who “asked for it.”
Yes, people in power should behave rationally and responsibly and such is why it was wrong for a special prosecutor to engage in a sexual crusade and wrong for the House Republicans to impeach Clinton.
Before there was a name for sexual harassment and a recognition that, between individuals with disparate authority, even consensual sex is coercive sex, women who had affairs with teachers and employers were described as either seductive and dissolute or naive and vulnerable. However, when Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 were enacted, they required businesses and educational institutions to construct policies and procedures to discourage harassment and to set up training programs to educate people about the law and about appropriate interactions between superiors and subordinates.
Said educational campaign has failed, abysmally failed. Selling consensual sex as coercive sex is a patent absurdity, it won’t sell.
Monica Lewinsky’s life spans the quarter-century of American history that has devoted close attention to gender issues, so it may be understandable that the public is unsympathetic to her not only because of her alleged willingness to engage in the purported sexual activity, but also because she is considered likely to have known better. She had every opportunity to be better educated than women in past generations were about the dangers and damage inherent in inappropriate sexual relations — and yet she allegedly still chose to become involved.
There is nothing inherently dangerous about inappropriate sexual relationships, e.g. same sex relationships were historically considered inappropriate; the danger came not from something inherent in homosexuality relationships, but the danger came from other people, people like Dziech who meddle in other peoples sex lives. And if we had a populace that was committed to appropriate and only appropriate sexual relations, what a dull world we would have created, a world that only could approach fruition in a totalitarian society.
Her situation should send a wake-up call to her peers. Just as the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas debate made it impossible for people to deny awareness of sexual harassment, so those in the post-Lewinsky generation may find it increasingly difficult to declare innocence or victimization after engaging in sex with teachers or employers. The caveat that governed consensual sex on the campuses and in the workplace during most of Ms. Lewinsky’s mother’s life was a simple “Don’t — or you’ll pay a heavy price.” Over the past decade and a half, however, as case law has mounted, and as complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and grievances filed at colleges and universities have increased, educators and employers have become more supportive of those who report having sexual relations with superiors.
More supportive most likely because they are required and are paid to do so. There is big money involved in the sexual harassment industry, not only for the university police but for lawyers and for persons such as Dziech who are hired by universities as consultants to engage in the impossible task of creating an environment in which power differentiated persons do not fraternize. Too bad for Dziech, such is an impossible dream.
But despite that institutional support, the public reaction to Monica Lewinsky may — and probably does — suggest that a generation more sophisticated about sex and more knowledgeable about the law will be expected to assume greater personal responsibility for recognizing, resisting, and reporting inappropriate behavior. (And whether they like it or not, schools and colleges will continue to be the most likely settings in which those three “R’s” can be taught.)
Dziech is wrong again about the universities. Yes, there will be those recognizing, resisting and reporting, but most of the three Rs will be practiced by those who take responsibility for their own sexual behavior; resist the unwelcome intrusion by academic busybodies, and report only to themselves and trusted friends.
The assumption that all young adults are more sophisticated about harassment than they were in the past is unfortunate, though. First, it does not take into account the psychology of true victims, whose particular circumstances and emotional frailties may make it difficult, if not impossible, for them to recognize and resist harassment — and may make reporting it inconceivable. Monica Lewinsky may be one such victim. One has only to read accounts of her background to realize that she is a very vulnerable young woman.
The other problem with imposing a higher standard on the post-Lewinsky generation than has been used in recent years is that it wrongly assumes that the stepped-up discussions of harassment by parents, educational institutions, and the public have adequately educated the young about the problems with consensual relationships. That is simply not the case. Public discussion of sexual harassment has been, at best, contentious. Add the romantic portrayals on television and in film of illicit sex between teachers and students, and the message about the dangers of consensual sex becomes highly convoluted.
Yes, these messages are highly convoluted but so are Dziech’s messages. And as for the young, her messages are directed to all members of the university community, no matter their age, no matter if the student is 25 or 35 or 45; they all need to be coerced by Dziech, et. al, to do the right thing.
Most colleges and universities have done little of substance to clarify the issue. Many simply ignore the problem of consent in their sexual-harassment policies; some strongly warn against consensual relationships; but almost none have been courageous or practical enough to ban consensual relationships altogether. While many businesses unequivocally prohibit relationships between adult workers and supervisors, debates in academe have centered — as they often do — on faculty members’ rights. When discussion of consent in relationships between supervisors and students is discussed, it usually occurs in an emotionally charged atmosphere, which results in students’ seeing the problem in simplistic, hyperbolic terms.
No businesses have across the board effective bans. Said businesses talk the talk but hardly ever walk the walk. In other words, appearances do not reflect reality. With the workplace becoming in essence the home place for many employees, employees will and do fraternize; it’s a matter of propinquity and convenience.
If the post-Lewinsky generation is to be held to a higher standard of accountability in sexual relationships than in the past, campus advocates for women’s issues should be very concerned about the Lewinsky-Clinton scandal and should initiate discussions about the ramifications of consent. That may not happen, however, if Patricia Ireland, president of the National Organization for Women, speaks for most advocates of women’s rights. She is reported to have said: “If the President had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, it was consensual. That’s a distinction I think people are trying to blur.”
Non-academic feminist Jill Ireland got it right.
Although Ms. Ireland may not “get” the dynamics of consent, we can hope that other women do, and that they will exercise reason and objectivity in the days ahead. It is no secret that academicians tend to be politically left of center and thus sympathetic to many of Mr. Clinton’s domestic and international policies. Should Monica Lewinsky disavow her previous affidavit or be found to have been sexually involved with the President, many academics will be trapped between Mr. Clinton’s verbal and political support for women’s issues and the misogyny and disregard for women that his private actions convey. If that happens, academics should muster the courage to divorce the man from his policies and reaffirm the truth they have fought hard to establish: However much superficial sophistication about sex or theoretical knowledge about sexual harassment students and workers might have, they are always at risk in relationships with professors or employers upon whom grades, recommendations, pay, or jobs depend.
But so are professors at risk, at risk of being charged with sexual harassment; at risk of a low graded student charging sexual harassment as part of a revenge scenario. Everyone is at risk. Certainly nothing that Dziech and her conferes have done have reduced the feelings of risk by both faculty and students. Maybe what is needed is for all academics (including) students to take a vow of celibacy, maybe using the Catholic Church as their model!
No one in a public scandal about sex looks good. In this case, not Monica Lewinsky. Not Bill or Hillary Clinton. Not Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr. Not the press. And certainly not a nation that has told pollsters that it doesn’t much care how men and women treat one another, as long as the economy is sound.
Wow! Finally she mentions Kenneth Starr, but only in passing. Shouldn’t Starr be Dziech’s star?
Some commentators have lauded this complacency about the alleged sexual activity as evidence of Americans’ increased “maturity,” “sophistication,” and “tolerance.” Those of us who write and speak about social issues and who teach college students need to reassess our roles in producing this “sophisticated” society. With the exception of their families, today’s youth are influenced most by their peers, the entertainment industry, and education. Since it is unlikely that friends and film stars can shed much light on the legal and ethical dimensions of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, educators must address the issue, both in casual conversations and in classroom discussions that deal with male-female issues, human development, social history, and the responsibilities of public leaders.
Yes, I agree that such should be addressed in classroom discussions and in informal conversations, but such is unlikely to occur in the context of coercion. People are unlikely to state the truth in public settings when said statements can lead to being disciplined and removed from the classroom. Of course, such persons can confidentially write to the dankprofessor, knowing that they, students and professors, have me as a resource person who will respect their confidentiality and their right to privacy
And we must realize that academe’s conception of sophistication and tolerance is directly tested in how it handles its own problems. When most campuses refuse to ban sexual relationships between students and professors, why should the public, when confronted by scandal, disapprove of the President’s cavorting with a young woman barely of legal age? Sophistication, tolerance, freedom, and individual rights are admirable concepts, but the genuinely enlightened recognize that there are always limits to freedom, that some behaviors deserve harsh judgment, and that, in some circumstances, tolerance allows pain and injustice to occur. Actions that denigrate and exploit women, particularly vulnerable subordinates, fit that category. We have an obligation to teach these principles to our students, by our words and by our own behavior.
Of course, given Dziech’s sophistication, she denies the reality that what she wants is a Big Brother or Big Sister university where students and professors must trust powerful others to not misuse their power in the sexual area. Does Billie Dziech really trust university administrators to wield such power in a fair and equitable manner, particularly when such power wielding is often done in secret? Doesn’t Professor Dziech know that Kenneth Starr copy cats and varicolored sexual zealots populate the ranks of sexual police aka university administrators? As is often the ultimate question, who is to protect us from our protectors, particularly when the protectors were once sophisticated professors who gave up their professorships for the “right” to wield big power and big money?
It took Gloria Allred, the queen of muckraking lawyers, to effectively bring the media and legal lynch mobs together in Los Angeles. It occurred in the context of her hosting former actress Charlotte Lewis at a Hollywood news conference so that Lewis could announce that she had been sexually assaulted by Roman Polanski in France in the 1980s. Why such was announced at this time was not made clear? And Gloria Allred would not allow her to entertain any questions so clarity could not be pursued. Of course, why Allred would not allow her to take questions was also not clear? And even why Allred was there representing Lewis was also not clear? And why Lewis ended up in Los Angeles and not in Paris to make her announcement was also not clear? If she was interested in pursuing justice in terms of what Polanski supposedly did to her, shouldn’t she be in Paris talking to the relevant French authorities. But instead she ends up talking to LA District attorney Steve Cooley who is spending much of his time attempting to prosecute and persecute Roman Polanski while running for the Attorney General of California.
But Allred and Lewis and possibly Cooley apparently accomplished their goal of having the media in tens of thousands of news sources repeat Lewis’s unsupported assertions over and over again that Polanski is a recividistic sexual predator. As for Cooley’s goals, such a media circus might help to persuade the Swiss authorities to send Polanski back to Hollywood with a Hollywood ending orchestrated by Cooley.
Even though Lewis’s staged performance in LA is now over and Lewis’s drama coach Allred is temporarily on the sidelines, there is little doubt that their beat will go on; the court of public opinion continues to be open for the unrestrained trashing of Polanski. However, if one looks carefully enough one can find voices of temperance and sanity in this deluge, check out an article in the Guardian by Robert Harris and a blog post by Novalis Lore. They are not of the Allred genre but they are of the genre that will not contribute to the feeding frenzies and public degradation ceremonies that are so predominant in today’s mediated world.
The president of the University of College Cork has becomes uncorked re a sexual harassment charge relating to fellatio and bats. Read the story as presented below. Absurdity knows no limits when it comes to how universities handle sexual matters.
London, May 18 (ANI): An academic at the University College Cork in Ireland found himself at the centre of a sexual harassment scandal after he discussed a scientific paper, titled ‘Fellatio in fruit bats prolongs copulation time’ with a female colleague.
And now his university is coming under international pressure to lift the punishment meted out to Dylan.
As part of what he says was an ongoing discussion on human uniqueness, Evans showed a copy of the fellatio paper to a female colleague in the school of medicine.
“There was not a shred of a sign of offence taken at the time. She asked for a copy of the article,” New Scientist quoted Evans as saying.
A week later he got a letter informing him that he was being accused of sexual harassment.
Evans said that the whole case is “utterly bizarre”.
The complainant’s side of the argument is that she was “hurt and disgusted”, and asked Evans to leave a copy of the paper with her as way of cutting short the meeting.
Apparently, there was more to the grievance between Evans and the complainant than the fellatio paper incident, but an independent investigation found that Evans was not guilty of sexual harassment.
The investigation stated that it was reasonable for the colleague to have been offended and that showing the paper was a joke with a sexual innuendo, but that it was not Evans’ intention to cause offence.
Nevertheless, the university’s president, Michael Murphy, imposed a censure, which Evans says has prevented him getting tenure.
An online petition calling on the university authorities to back down has been set up and has been signed by high-profile academics including philosopher Daniel Dennett of Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, and Steven Pinker of Harvard University.
Dennett called the punishment “an outrageous violation of academic freedom” and Pinker says the “absurd and shameful” judgment “runs contrary to the principle of intellectual freedom and freedom of speech, to say nothing of common sense”.
The paper, which was carried out by many popular journals, had a certain prurient interest, which was only heightened by an explicit video that went with itMovie Camera.
The Irish Federation of University Teachers has written to Murphy asking him to rescind the two-year period of monitoring. (ANI)
I recently blogged on the new Duke University policy which regulates in detail Duke University students sexual behavior. The major rationale given for such intrusion into the private lives of Duke students is that the policy attempts to insure that all sexual interaction between students is ‘absolutely’ consensual.
What the dankprofessor finds bemusing is that Duke does not apply this policy to faculty, staff or administrators. Shouldn’t Duke be concerned that all the sexual behavior engaged in by their employees is absolutely consensual? The dankprofessor thought it would be of interest to see how Duke handles student professor relationships and if said policy is consistent with their coercively administered sexual code.
Their 2002 policy begins with the following statement-
Duke University is committed to maintaining learning and work environments as free as possible from conflicts of interest, exploitation, and favoritism.
Where a party uses a position of authority to induce another person to enter into a non-consensual relationship, the harm both to that person and to the institution is clear.
Note that the person inducing is the person in authority; the person not in authority cannot induce. We shall see that the rest of their policy is consistent with this since students are hardly ever seen as being agents of their own behavior.
The policy continues-
Even where the relationship is consensual, there is significant potential for harm when there is an institutional power difference between the parties involved, as is the case, for example, between supervisor and employee, faculty and student, or academic advisor and advisee.
But even when there is no power differential there is risk of harm. On the other hand, there is also the potentiality of good- romance, love and marriage and children. But the Duke administration can never entertain that sexual behavior is good. They embrace the notion that sexuality is intrinsically bad EXCEPT when there is regulation from above. Only the powers that be can protect Duke students from such evil consequences; such is why Duke passed the draconian policy regulating sexual behavior of students.
The policy continues-
…the student–teacher relationship represents a special case, because the integrity of this relationship is of such fundamental importance to the central mission of the university. Students look to their professors for guidance and depend upon them for assessment, advancement, and advice. Faculty–student consensual relationships create obvious dangers for abuse of authority and conflict of interest actual, potential, and apparent. Especially problematic is such a relationship between a faculty member and a graduate student who is particularly dependent upon him or her for access to research opportunities, supervision of thesis or dissertation work, and assistance in pursuing job opportunities.
Interesting is their assertion that relationships between grad students and faculty are “especially problematic”. Interesting since Yale in its newly revised policy only applied blanket bans to undergraduates. Graduate students were given more leeway since they were seen as more mature.
Duke University has adopted a consensual relationship policy for the following reasons: to avoid the types of problems outlined above, to protect people from the kind of injury that either a subordinate or superior party to such a relationship can suffer, and to provide information and guidance to members of the Duke community. Most of all, this policy seeks to help ensure that each member of the Duke community is treated with dignity and without regard to any factors that are not relevant to that person’s work.
The last sentence brings us into the land of the absurd- policy insures each member of the Duke community is treated with dignity. Is attempting to control the sexual decision making of others dignified? Can outright coercion of others insure the dignity of others? This policy as formulated may help the policy enforcers to feel more dignified, and facilitate their work of attempting to take dignity away form others.
The policy continues-
No faculty member should enter into a consensual relationship with a student actually under that faculty member’s authority. Situations of authority include, but are not limited to, teaching, formal mentoring, supervision of research, and employment of a student as a research or teaching assistant; and exercising substantial responsibility for grades, honors, or degrees; and considering disciplinary action involving the student.
No faculty member should accept authority over a student with whom he or she has or has had a consensual relationship without agreement with the appropriate dean. Specifically, the faculty member should not, absent such agreement, allow the student to enroll for credit in a course which the faculty member is teaching or supervising; direct the student’s independent study, thesis, or dissertation; employ the student as a teaching or research assistant; participate in decisions pertaining to a student’s grades, honors, degrees; or consider disciplinary action involving the student.
Students and faculty alike should be aware that entering into a consensual relationship will limit the faculty member’s ability to teach and mentor, direct work, employ, and promote the career of a student involved with him or her in a consensual relationship, and that the relationship should be disclosed in any letter of recommendation the faculty member may write on the student’s behalf. Furthermore, should the faculty member be the only supervisor available in a particular area of study or research, the student may be compelled to avoid or change the special area of his or her study or research.
If nevertheless a consensual relationship exists or develops between a faculty member and a student involving any situation of authority, that situation of authority must be terminated. Termination includes, but is not limited to, the student withdrawing from a course taught by the faculty member; transfer of the student to another course or section, or assumption of the position of authority by a qualified alternative faculty member or teaching assistant; the student selecting or being assigned to another academic advisor and/or thesis or dissertation advisor; and changing the supervision of the student’s teaching or research assistantship. In order for these changes to be made and ratified appropriately, the faculty must disclose the consensual relationship to his or her superior, normally the chair, division head, or dean, and reach an agreement for remediation. In case of failure to reach agreement, the supervisor shall terminate the situation of authority.
What the dankprofessor finds to be most degrading in regards to students is that the faculty member must disclose the consensual relationship to his or her superior. What about the consent of the student re disclosure? What about the student’s right to privacy? And as for a faculty member unilaterally disclosing this relationship to a so-called superior, such behavior is damning. The faculty member who ends up as being an informant should have grownup and had the ability to say no to arbitrary authority who refer to themselves as “superiors”.
Of course, there are ethical issues involved here. But ethics are too important to be left to an authority which imposes its will on non-consenting others. Ethical engagement should always be at the core of university life. But the Duke student policy and student professor sexual relationships policy do not promote ethics. The ethic they promote is one of force; is one of authoritarianism. Consenting sexuality of adults is too important, too private to be controlled by university administrators, no matter how superior they consider themselves to be. The dankprofessor feels that university administrators who end up being part of a sexual police are utterly morally repugnant.
The New Mexico Daily Lobo has reported that UNM English professor Hector Torres and his girlfriend Stephanie Gray, A UNM grad student in Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, were found dead Monday in his home near campus.
Ralph Montoya, the female victim’s ex-boyfriend, is charged with two counts of murder. He is booked in Metropolitan Detention Court on a $250,000 cash-only bail.
According to the warrant issued by APD, Montoya walked into the downtown office of attorney Lauren Oliveros on Monday and confessed to killing two people on Sunday. He told Oliveros the two bodies could be found at the residence of the male victim.
When police arrived at the residence, at noon, they saw two bodies lying on the floor from the outside window. Upon entering, officers saw the male victim laying face down in a pool of blood with a gun aimed at his head.
According to the report, it appeared to the officers that the gun was placed there by another person to make it look like the victim committed suicide.
Officers reported that the female victim was found face up in a pool of blood, but no visible wounds were found on her body. The male victim is 54 years old, and his girlfriend is 43, according to the report.
In response to the murders, the UNM administeration issued the following statement-
“The UNM community has been diminished by the untimely deaths of two of our own. Professor Hector Torres will be remembered as a scholar of great passion, dedication and kindness. Graduate student Stefania Gray was a scholar of great promise. Both were wonderful individuals and we join their families and many friends in great sadness.”
Professor Torres was on faculty in the UNM Department of English since 1986. He was born in Tijuana, Mexico, raised in El Paso, Texas and, with the benefit of the GI Bill, earned all his degrees, including a doctorate in English language and literature from the University of Texas at Austin. Currently, he was teaching a course on Chicano Culture, a theory course and was directing an independent study.
He regularly teaches courses in literary and critical theory, postmodernism and contemporary Chicana and Chicano literary discourse and film, English syntax and discourse analysis, as well as courses on writing about film. His research and scholarship focused on contemporary, postmodern Chicana and Chicano literary discourse and film, literary and critical theory.
In a 2007 interview he said, “I think being a Spanish speaker who learned English in school drove my interest in linguistics, language and literature.”
In 2007, with UNM Press he published, “Conversations with Contemporary Chicana and Chicano Writers.” The impetus for the books was in his study of social linguistics – or the relationship between language and society. “The language of literature is language of reflection rather than language through interaction, but the social linguistic approach still interests me,” he said in a 2007 interview.
Stefania Gray was a graduate student in comparative literature in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. She was working with Raji Vallury, assistant professor in French, on her thesis, “Dreams of Andalusia: Women, Gender, Memory and Nation.” She was to defend the day after spring break.
Vallury remembers her as “vibrant, beautiful and strong.” She was a heritage Spanish speaker who earned her undergraduate degree and then went out to the workforce where she was a flight attendant. She came back to school and was the first woman in her family to do post-graduate study. She was already planning to pursue a doctoral degree, Vallury said.
The dankprofessor must note that in the aforementioed statement the UNM administration does not mention that there was a relationship between the murdered student and murdered professor. Maybe such a mention would be out of order in this statement. But I do know this- that in universities throughout the United States, including UNM, student prof couples function in a hostile environment which has been created as a result of a persistent rhetoric which functions to dehumanize such couples. Universities have given a license to just about everyone to demean and degrade student professor couples. And therefore it is not a shocking statement that for the mentally distraught this cultural framework may function as a LICENSE TO KILL.
Sometimes comments come into the dankprofessor blog which I feel merit attention as a full fledged post. Here is a comment from Samskara on Polanski Defenders and Rape Baiting which is now published as a post-
I’ll relate a story I read and heard on Russian actress/model Olga Kurylenko (“Hitman” and “Quantum of Solace”). While in Russia, standing in a food line with her mother, a man noticed her and wanted to photograph her. He said he was an ‘agent’, however, given the Russian underground trade in sex slaves to Thailand and other places, Mrs. Kurylenko (Olga’s mother) refused to believe that this guy was on the up-and-up. So she decided to accompany Olga to this ‘meeting’. It turned out that he was in fact, a bonafide photographer with international connections into the modeling business. Olga, with her mother by her side, signed the contract and lo and behold, she’s a model.
The reason I’m telling this story? Well ever since that day until Olga turned 21, Mrs. Kurylenko accompanied Olga wherever she went, all over the world, no matter where it was. As a Russian scientist, Mrs. Kurylenko knew the money Olga was making was significant and could make a difference as to her daughter’s future. The one thing that Mrs. Kurylenko didn’t do, was allow Olga to go off on her own with anyone until she came of age.
How does this relate to Roman and his story? Plenty. I still say, how much of this whole thing is to be blamed solely on the mother? All of it. What mother allows their young daughter to go off with a man known for his proclivities for liking young-er women? Only a mother who plainly has an ulterior motive. As a woman, I have the right to say this. I have the right to question where Mrs. Gailey’s ethics were. I don’t believe in morals. They’re for those who ascribe to some kind of religious system of believe. I don’t. I’m more in line of a left-of-liberal leaning humanist. While I agree with the fact that as sexual beings we should be able to do whatever we want in terms of our bedrooms, I also believe that there should be an effort to protrect those who may be vulnerable in our culture. But in this case, there was no ‘vulnerable’ little creature to protect. And anyone who doesn’t understand that Geimer was already sexually mature, don’t see the larger picture. And for those who think that it’s ‘okay’ to state things like “if it where your 13 year-old daughter, you’d think differently…” They’re just blowing shit up their own asses. If I had a 13 year-old daughter, I certainly would not be sending her off with someone I didn’t even know that well. Like Olga Kurylenko, I would want to be there to protect my daughter, not send her off to fend for herself.
In a culture that embraces the absurd and the sick, like the American’s do (I’m Canadian), I think it’s ridiculous that most of the condemnation is coming from the US. They’re professing to be this ‘hard-done-by’ nation, yet they love ruling over the world when it comes to global law. And Roman Polanski is not a whipping boy for all that is wrong with the US. Their lawmakers are. And considering that they have worse REAL pedophiles within their own government like those of the C-Street band who believe it’s perectly okay to rape a six year-old and confess it and have it called a ‘power enhancing experience’, but to break with their bretheren is punishable by death, that’s whacked up to me
In recent years there has been a major change in university policies banning student prof sexual relationships. The change has been the incorporation of “sexual or amorous” relationships. Almost all new or revised statements incorporate amorous relationships, eg, the new Yale statement incorporates amorous. And this change has been without critical comment.
The dankprofessor has been delinquent in addressing the incorporation of amorous. No longer will such be the case.
OK, let’s start out by being quite clear that these policies do not state sexual AND amorous; it is sexual OR amorous. So said policies definitely cover relationships that may not have a sexual component. This hugely increases the size of the population covered by the anti-fraternization policies.
We all know that being in love, that falling in love can occur without sex. And we know that some loving couples do not engage in sex because for one reason or the other they feel the time is not right. And some loving couples believe that their relationship should not be consummated until marriage. The makers of these policies know this, including the erudite members of the Yale Women Faculty Forum who play a critical role in creating Yale policy.
So are we really confronted here not just with a war against student prof sex but also a war against student prof love? On the surface, the answer is yes, but there is more, much more.
The reality is that if there was just a ban on sex between student and professors, many couples would be untouchable. They would be untouchable because they could simply deny having sex and there would be no one available who could dispute this. Faculty and students come under suspicion based on words and deeds, and appearances. Loving words, walking too close to a student, being seen too often with a student, having dinner with a student, notes of love to a student, loving emails to a student, a look of love directed toward a student or a look of love directed to the professor, this is what gets people in trouble. The assumption that underlying all of the foregoing is sex is just that- an assumption.
And, of course, what the amorous clause does is to not make it necessary to prove that sex has occurred. For the accusers, staying at the amorous level is just fine. Being found to be amorous with a student makes one a sex code violator.
But there is still more. What the amorous clause does is to make all close relationships with a student suspect. And therefore to diminish the possibility of becoming suspect many faculty refuse to be close with any particular student. Or for some profs playing it safe means that all interactions with students occur in a group context, never on a one to one basis. Sure having lunch with a student is OK as long as there are others who are partaking in said lunch.
It comes down to professors keeping their distance, and student professor couples becoming more and more closeted. Such is the nature of contemporary university life.
The dankprofessor has been very critical of university policy statements on consensual relationships regulating student professor sexual relationships. Invariably these policies function to degrade both students and professors and subject professors to disciplinary actions, sometimes actions that include dismissal.
Now the West Hills Community College District has come up with a policy statement that is minimally invasive and punitive and not degrading of student prof couples. There are still some problems. So here it is followed by my comments-
Romantic or sexual relationships between supervisors and employees or between administrators, faculty or staff members and students are discouraged. There is an inherent imbalance of power and potential for exploitation in such relationships. A conflict of interest may arise if the administrator, faculty or staff member must evaluate the student’s or employee’s work or make decisions affectingthe employee or student. The relationship may create an appearance of impropriety and lead to charges of favoritism by other students or employees. A consensual sexual relationship may change, with the result that sexual conduct that was once welcome becomes unwelcome and harassing. In the event that such relationships do occur, the District has the authority to transfer any involved employee to eliminate or attenuate the supervisory authority of one over the other, or of a teacher over a student. Such action by the District is a proactive and preventive measure to avoid possible charges of harassment and does not constitute discipline against any affected employee.
Note that throughout this statement MAY is used, such as “A conflict of interest may arise…” There is a POTENTIAL for exploitation. Of course, all relationships have a MAY; there is nothing intrinsic about relationships that pre-determine a result. But most policy statements have no may and simply state that there is a conflict of interest, etc.
The major difference in the policy is that there will be no “discipline taken against any affected employee.” Bravo to West Hills. Of course, never ever should there have been any discipline taken against any party to a consensual relationship at any university.
But there is one caveat regarding the goodness of this policy and that is the statement that “the District has the authority to transfer any involved employee to eliminate or attenuate the supervisory authority of one over the other, or of a teacher over a student.” OK, most policies state that the university can unilaterally pull out a student from the class. This policy leaves that out which is good, but pulling out a prof from a class in the middle of a semester functions to disrupt the entire class and may lead to punishing an entire class of students.
The dankprofessor still believes that this policy is a step in the right direction.
The witch hunt for sexual deviants is just beginning at Yale. As reported in the Yale Daily News, the Women Faculty Forum wants to employ the new consensual relationships policy as a launch pad for a more encompassing sexual control policy.
In its report, the Women Faculty Forum also recommended that new, University-wide policies against sexual misconduct replace existing policies, which vary across Yale College, the Graduate School and the professional schools. They also want Yale to shift its focus from sexual harassment to the broader issue of sexual misconduct — an umbrella term that applies to both sexual harassment and assault, and includes other sexually motivated behaviors intended to intimidate or threaten.
The Women Faculty Forum also called for the creation of a centralized sexual misconduct grievance board to administer the new policy and address complaints from undergraduates, graduate and professional students, faculty and staff alike. Currently, complaints are evaluated by four different grievance boards across the University.
“We don’t think there’s a lot of additional study necessary in terms of outside research,” Woman Faculty Forum report co-author and School of Management professor Connie Bagley said. “I hope the group is serious about the issues and willing to roll up their sleeves, dig into the [Women Faculty Forum] report and policy and just get this done.”
Miller said the University’s quick response to the report’s demand for a review committee and new policy on student-faculty relationships signals a “recommitment” to preventing sexual harassment and sexual misconduct.
“The administrators we’ve been working with agree that sexual misconduct has no place at Yale,” Bagley said last month. “They’re serious about trying to take additional steps to eliminate it.”
Both Bagley and Priya Natarajan, a professor of astronomy and physics and a co-chair of the committee that authored the report, said they are pleased with the University’s response to the Women Faculty Forum report so far, but added that this is just the beginning of the process. The new committee must act quickly and decisively and follow the policy changes outlined in the report, Bagley said.
The report came from over a year of research, writing and consultation with faculty and administrators, most of whom supported the group’s proposed policies, Bagley said. Members of the committee responsible for the report worked with the General Counsel’s Office to ensure that the policy changes offered in the report were legally feasible.
The Women Faculty Forum began work on its report on sexual misconduct in fall 2008, after several pledges to the fraternity Zeta Psi posed for pictures outside the Women’s Center with signs that read “We Love Yale Sluts” and 100 medical students wrote a letter to School of Medicine administrators in December 2007 expressing concern over the prevalence of sexual harassment at the school, according to the report. The Women Faculty Forum’s goal in writing the report was to help administrators to develop a workable, University-wide anti-sexual misconduct policy, Bagley said.
The dankprofessor finds it breathtaking that the report promulgates a policy of eliminating all sexual misconduct at Yale while at the same time insuring that the policies are legally “feasible”. Eliminating/eradicating sexual misconduct is simply not compatible with law that recognizes due process and civil liberties. Such elimination can occur but only in an authoritarian state ruled by sexual zealots. Of course, “elimination” should be in quotes since so-called sexual misconduct is never completely eliminated. The anti-sexual zealots know this and know that their work is never completed; vigilance is always necessary in their world view.
What this and other similar policies also foment is the use of informants, third party informants who will report on sexual dissidents. Based on reports to me from distraught students and profs, the usage of informants is commonplace in American universities. Getting a handle on this situation is difficult since the identity of such informants is kept secret by university authorities. In fact, most often the entire proceeding against sexual dissidents is of a secretive nature. What makes the Yale policy even more fertile for the fomenting of informants is the usage of the nebulous term “amorous relationships”. So if the behavior is perceived as not sexual but amorous such is enough to initiate the charges.
But one may ask who would be prone to become informants at Yale or any other university? The prone would be distraught or jealous students or faculty. A student who believes that she or he was unfairly given a poor grade may come forward with a false charge knowing that ones identity is protected and knowing in some cases that there are no rules regarding false charges. Or one may be jealous of a fellow student or fellow faculty member or one may be a distraught ex-boyfriend. The list can go on and on.
The world of Yale is no different than the worlds beyond the walls of ivy. The small minded are everywhere. The paranoid are everywhere. The sexual zealots are everywhere. The question is whether they will be allowed to takeover Yale and recreate Yale in their image.
For my prior posting on the Zeta Psi fraternity controversy, click here.
The dankprofessor will also be reporting on prior incidents of sexual hysteria at Yale and on a faculty member who was subjected to said hysteria.
There is a blogging group called themselves the astute bloggers, but from what I have read by them, whatever they have to offer it is not astuteness. Here is their “take: on Roman Polanski being transferred from a Swiss jail to his Swiss chalet-
INSTEAD OF RELAXING IN A CHALET IN GSTAAD, POLANSKI DESERVES JUSTICE.
LET’S SEND HIM TO PRISON WHERE OTHER INMATES CAN DO TO HIM WHAT HE DID TO THAT 13 YEAR OLD GIRL
Well, even if the above comment is not astute, it is unadulterated honest bigotry. Or to put it in other terms, it is blatant hatemongering. Or in modern day lingo, it’s Polanski haters unplugged.
And for those who still believe in civility , let us not forget that Polanski was in that Swiss jail not for punishment but rather as a detainee. We detain detainees not for the sake of punishment. Polanski was detained in jail and now is detained in his chalet.
The fact that the chalet is a very hospitable environment is really beside the point. Unfortunately, what is the point to all too many Americans is that jails for detainees, the presumed innocent, should be like New York City’s Riker’s Island, an island where the presumed innocent are punished and degraded on an everyday basis.
Riker’s Island and other similar institutions in America and around the world indicate the game will remain the same. It means that those calling themselves astute create insitutions that have more rapists exiting than entering.
The dankprofessoer knows where rape is going on and it is not in a plush Swiss chalet but rather in our jails and prisons.
I am not sure if I got it right in the headline. So with a few more words I hope to do a better job.
Princeton coed Margaret Sullivan, class of 2012, posed nude in DIAMOND, a “Harvard” magazine, and she assumed that if she only used her first name no one would uncover her real identity, she couldn’t be googled. She said she posed because she is a poor Princeton student and needed the money.
Maybe she didn’t know she would be on the cover of DIAMOND and it is damn hard for any cover girl to remain undercover.
Now the Diamond text just above the picture reads- “Who knew smart people could be so sexy?”
Well who knew that a Harvard magazine could be so stupid to assume that any smart woman would pose on their cover? Or who at Harvard would asume that a sexy woman couldn’t be smart? And how could any woman assume that after being on a cover of a “sex” magazine she could still remain undercover?
Or, of course, this could be all hype. If not, the Diamond editor could be just another undercover agent for the blues.
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)
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.
The Emma Thompson scenario re Roman Polanski is getting more and more bizarre. As I indicated in a previous post, a number of feminist blogs and then the media in general reported that Thompson was to withdraw her name from a petition in support of Roman Polanski. Apparently Thompson indicated to a student at Exeter College where she was lecturing that her name would be withdrawn from the petition.
What the dankprofessor found to be strange was that there was no public statement by Thompson announcing said withdrawal. And to add to this strangeness, yesterday Thompson appeared on THE VIEW with an audience of a couple of million and said absolutely nothing about Polanski.
Such must have been disheartening to those avowed feminists who were very excited about Emma’s apparent withdrawal. But as the dankprofessor has previously stated such is contradictory with feminism since these people are looking up to a power figure for validation, and, in this particular case, looking up to a celebrity.
And what also disturbs the dankprofessor is not that Emma Thompson signed or not signed or changed her mind about signing a petition, but rather that she finds signing to be sufficent. Is it too much to expect the Emma Thompson make a public statement indicating her reasons for signing or not signing? Signing a petition is easy, explaining why one signed is not so easy. Are the anit-Polanski crusaders going to give a pass to Thomspson because she is a celebrity?
Although I support the efforts of Roman Polanski not to be extradited to the United Sates, I am also generally sympathetic to those who speak out against any differential treatment of celebrities.
Celebrityhood should not make celebrities qualified for any kind of special treatment.
But we all very well know that such is not the case in America. Too many Americans worship their stars. Some do so to such a degree that if anything bad happens to one of their heavenly bodies they become psychologically unglued. Such was recently demonstrated when Michael Jackson died; there was massive mourning throughout the United States, and a media frenzy that even surpassed the trials and tribulations of OJ Simpson.
And now we have Emma Thompson, an accomplished actress and humanitarian, who has caused many people on the feminist left to go into seizures of despair and heartbreak, particularly see the Jezebel and Shakesville blogs.
And what did Emma Thompson do that caused such distress- she signed the Bernard Henri Levy petition in support of freedom for Polanski. Here we have one actress and one signatory of the petition. But what we also have is too many feminists treating Thompson as being the Ultimate one. She is treated with adoration just as all “true” celebrities are treated. Her falling from her scared superior position has caused much suffering by her worshipers.
But according to the Shakseville blog, all has not been in vain-
Last week, a reader named Caitlin e-mailed Shakesville blogmistress Melissa McEwan — who had written about being heartbroken by Thompson’s decision to sign — with a proposal. Caitlin is a student at Exeter University, where Thompson was scheduled to speak last night, and knew she’d have the opportunity to meet the actor. In her e-mail, Caitlin wrote: “I have set up a petition online, in the hopes that I can hand her a list of names and comments next week from the online community (and my own university, hopefully) showing our dismay at her decision to sign the Roman Polanski petition.”
The petition got 410 signatures and numerous comments, which Caitlin brought to her meeting with Thompson last night. In a follow-up e-mail to Shakesville, Caitlin writes:
Emma did not have much time between meetings, but she gave me all of the time that she had. I asked her why she had signed the petition, and she explained about how well she knows Polanski, how terrible his life has been, and how forgiving the survivor of the rape all those years ago now is. She said she thought the intentions of the judge were unclear, as were the intentions of those who arrested him recently. She told me that a lot of her friends had rung her up asking her to sign the petition, so there had been a certain amount of pressure. She said that she had already been thinking a lot about the petition, as others had expressed their dismay at her signing it.
I handed her our petition and the comments. She read them both through thoroughly, and came back to me. She said, while she supported Polanski as a friend, a crime is a crime. I don’t know whether she had realised the extent of Polanski’s crime, but she is now fully aware. She will remove her name from the petition – in fact, she said she would call today and sort it out. Even though, she stressed, Polanski has had some truly terrible experiences in his lifetime, experiences that we couldn’t even imagine and which should not be taken out of the equation, she agreed that she could not put her name to a petition asking for his release.
Assuming that she will be true to her word, her name will be removed in the very near future. Hopefully the press will pick up on it.
She left me with this, to pass on to everyone who has signed the petition/raised awareness of this issue: “Know that I will remove my name because of you, and all of the good work that you have been doing. I have read your petition. I have heard you. And I will listen.”
If she follows through, hooray for Thompson — and either way, hooray for Caitlin, who had the guts to use a brief meeting with a celebrity to do what many of us have wanted to over the last month: Ask what the fuck went through her head before she signed. And it sounds like the usual — he’s suffered, he’s charming, the victim wants it dropped, judicial shenanigans, all the cool kids are signing — minus any thought of what he actually did to the victim in 1977, before fleeing the country. Lévy conveniently left any mention about that out of his petition, but Caitlin did not. And that information is rather crucial to making a decision about whether to call for leaving poor old Polanski alone. I’ve been wondering the whole time how many of his supporters have taken a good look at it, and how many just got a phone call saying, “It’s a witch hunt — sign this” and agreed.
Here’s hoping not only that Thompson makes that call, but that her change of heart gets enough real media attention for other celebrity signatories of the Free Polanski petition to think twice about who and what, exactly, they agreed to stand up for.
Of course the Jezebel blogger comes out patronizing both Emma Thompson and all other signatories. They just couldn’t know what they actually signed. I signed the petition and I knew just about all aspects of the Polanski case that have become public. And I assume that such was also the case for many of the other signatories.
What I find so terribly depressing is that apparently so many, (see the comments on the Shakesville blog )are so dependent on any power figure. Doesn’t such dependency represent the antithesis of what feminism is all about?
Speaking only for myself, if Harrison Ford decided to remove his name from the petition I would be unfazed. What does Harrison Ford have to do with me? I speak for myself; Harrison Ford speaks for himself. Why should I or any body else petition Harrison Ford? If such petitioning would occur as it has occurred in reference to Emma Thompson, it just demonstrates the dependency and vulnerability of the petitioners.
NOTE: EMMA THOMPSON HAS NOT PUBLICLY CONFIRMED THAT SHE HAS WITHDRAWN HER SUPPORT OF POLANSKI. IF SHE DOES SO, I WILL WITHDRAW THIS NOTE.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Sharon Warner former director of the UNM Creative Writing program has filed a lawsuit against the University of New Mexico. “Warner said she has suffered lost wages, lost promotional opportunity and emotional distress” caused in part by the decision of the UNM administration not to discipline her colleague Lisa Chavez for taking part in an off campus S-M phone venue. Professor Warner had previously resigned as Director of the Creative Writing program as a protest against the UNM administration for not disciplining Chavez.
Professor Warner had argued previously that students had been harmed by Chavez’s actions, but she was unable to cite any student suffering from said harm. Now Warner is arguing that she has been harmed by the administration doing nothing in reference to Professor Chavez, she finds such to be emotionally distressing.
The dankprofessor sees her bottom line as being that professors have a right not to be upset or offended by administrative actions. If professors had such a right, professors throughout the country would be filing lawsuits on a daily basis against university administrations. During my thirty plus years as a professor I was upset many times, too numerous to count, by actions of the university administration. Some times I was very disturbed by these actions, some times I had trouble sleeping, but I viewed this as being all part of the game, as being a grownup, as being a professional. My turning around and then suing the university for causing me to be distressed would have represented for me a giant copout, a comedy of the absurd.
Last year in a letter to the faculty of the English Department, UNM President David Schmidley wrote in regards to the Lisa Chavez controversy that “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.”
President Schmidley’s advice is still good advice. But rather than getting any attempt at reconciliation from Sharon Warner instead at some time in the future he will probably get a summons to appear in court.
- academic freedom
- Anita Bryant
- attractive professors
- attractive students
- Barack Obama
- Barnard College
- blog introduction
- brain sex
- Brigham Young University
- Charlie Sheen
- child pornography
- Clemson University
- coercing women
- Colorado College
- con artists
- Concordia University
- conference sex
- consensual relationships
- corporate dating bans
- csu sacramento
- D'souza blog
- Dalhousie University
- Daphne Patai
- David Cass
- David Lettterman
- Debra Tate
- Duke University
- East Georgia College
- East Surrey College
- Emma Thompson
- false rape charges
- Florida Gulf Coast University
- fobidden love
- Francine Prose
- Gabrielle Giffords
- gay history
- gay marriage
- gay rights
- Gonzaga University
- Harvard University
- Heather Mac Donald
- higher education
- Hofstra University
- Hugh Hefner
- Indiana University
- Iowa State University
- Islamic law
- ivory tower romance
- Jared Loughner
- Jerzy Kosinski
- Jewish Journal
- John Bonnell
- John McCain
- Julian Assange
- just words
- Larry Craig
- Laura Bush
- Laura Kipnis
- Lethbridge College
- lisa chavez
- Louisiana Tech
- Mark Bourrie
- Marquette University
- Michelle Obama
- Middlebury College
- Moscow State University
- Northwestern University
- Oberlin College
- office romance
- Ohio State University
- Otero University
- outing students
- Oxford College
- Pasadena City College
- Philip Roth
- political correctness
- political violence
- Princeton University
- Proposition 8
- public sex
- Rice University
- Roger Ebert
- Roman Polanski
- Sarah Palin
- Saudi Arabia
- Seattle university
- Senator Craig
- Senator McCain
- sex offenders
- sex toys
- sex work
- sex workers
- sexual harassment
- sexual identity
- sexual policing
- sexual politics
- sexual rights
- Sharon Tate
- Sharon Warner
- Smith College
- Southern Illinois University
- St. John's University
- student professor dating
- student slavery
- student-prof dating
- the closet
- The Tenant
- trophy wives
- UC Berkeley
- UC Irvine
- UC San Diego
- UC Santa Barbara
- United Kingdom
- University of Bristol
- University of Calgary
- university of charleston
- University of Chicago
- University of Connecticut
- University of Georgia
- University of Hawaii
- University of Iowa
- University of Michigan
- University of Minnesota
- University of New Hampshire
- University of New Mexico
- university of pennsylvania
- University of Southern Maine
- University of Sussex
- University of Texas Houston
- University of the Philippines
- University of Toronto
- Warwick University
- Washington University
- William & Mary College
- William Buckley
- Yale University