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rob! 1
Ah, there it is on refresh. I was just about to ask what his grade was. Well done, all.
Posted by rob! on January 18, 2013 at 12:42 PM · Report this
Another one where it would be interesting to see a follow-up. If you see this, Jason, I hope you can let us know how it works out.
Posted by pox on January 18, 2013 at 12:43 PM · Report this
Ah. Refresh before posting. Got it.
Posted by pox on January 18, 2013 at 12:47 PM · Report this
Eva Hopkins 4
Wow, Dan! Nice work! Bravely handled.

The attraction to children is a disease. The attraction is not the crime: the *actin on it* is the crime. I am 100% behind everything you said, Dan, with the sole exception of calling the professor a piece of shit. I wouldn't want words put in my mouth either & I know the edginess is your signature style. But the rest of everything you said is so compassionate & serious, it kinda rang false.

Congratulations Jason, for challenging your professor. That's education. Not just because you are a fellow fan of someone I admire the writing of, but for using critical thinking when responding. Jason, your attitude of, wanting to help your professor speaks volumes about your character. He perhaps needs more help. IDK how professional it is of him to share his issues with you in that way.

Plenty of people who have been abused have found help & solace via Mr. Savage, & I don't think your professor quoted Dan accurately.
Posted by Eva Hopkins on January 18, 2013 at 12:49 PM · Report this
Is this teacher fairly young? I'm not an expert in the classroom, having only taken 1 graduate seminar on teaching methodology, but it strikes me that it's pretty difficult to justify the pedagogical function of the teacher's response. The "correcting tone" should be about factual information. And their comments, if they believe have some educational value to the classroom should be brought up in discussion and not in "red ink" in a tone of judgement. I can imagine a situation where someone chooses a controversial figure as a social justice hero, Fidel Castro for example. But experienced instructors can usually tease the objections people might raise at that selection out in conversation without ever becoming the voice of judgement, i.e. would facilitate a conversation not dictate a moral truth. This sounds like a young teacher for those reasons, and so James Cantor makes a really good point. This person needs mentoring from their department chair.
Posted by LukeJoe on January 18, 2013 at 1:20 PM · Report this
Sadly, I don't think this opened the instructor's mind. I think the instructor was pissing herself realizing that she had put her remarks in writing, and that if she gave an unfair grade after this exchange she could be in a lot of trouble.

I recognize the type of social justice professor Jason is describing -- we have a bunch of them at my university. They are accustomed to telling students what they are allowed to think, and when they encounter intelligent pushback they are remarkably unprepared.
Posted by Margaret L. on January 18, 2013 at 1:23 PM · Report this
Curious to see if the professor could provide that link, so we could see exactly what Dan said that s/he was misunderstanding.

Not saying Dan actually said anything of the sort. Rather, there is this habit on the part of the public (particularly pronounced in conservative haters) to get their teeth into a concept and refuse to let go of it. For some reason this strikes me as one of those; perhaps the professor got hooked by a quote-mine that's just beginning to gain traction? It's helpful to be able to refute, or at least clarify, with complete information.
Posted by avast2006 on January 18, 2013 at 1:29 PM · Report this
Arsenic7 8

Did you not read the part where the instructor was convinced to at least consider her student's point of view? How do the conclusions you just made conform to that information? She/He seemed to have reasons to feel they way they did and those feelings were changed by a reasonable response. I think it's quite inspiring, actually, to know there are people who can be persuaded by reason.

Posted by Arsenic7 on January 18, 2013 at 1:29 PM · Report this
"...white male heterosexual privilege..."
Posted by jzimbert on January 18, 2013 at 1:38 PM · Report this
Dan Savage. You are awesome.
Posted by tacomagirl on January 18, 2013 at 1:41 PM · Report this
@9: And yet it is a thing. Interesting discussion after this week's The Good Wife in which people kept trying to explain that Peter, the State's Attorney, cannot be called racially biased. It's just that he's more comfortable with white people from a background similar to his own, and so he promotes them and passes over all the African Americans in the office with more experience. It's not racist! It's just that people like to promote people who are just like them, with whom they share social connections. What exactly people who were not wealthy white straight males might do to get promoted in this environment was a question that did not seem to have occurred to the posters, probably because this stuff had never affected them.

PC Buzzword bingo can be annoying, especially if someone is bound and determined to be somehow victimized. But that doesn't mean the privilege of being in a favored group by birth is not a real thing. And often a thing invisible to the people in that group.
Posted by IPJ on January 18, 2013 at 1:52 PM · Report this
Good on the instructor for being open to a different point of view! This student clearly cares about the subject and is willing to put in the time to get the subject sorted out. I commend all involved.
Posted by dchari on January 18, 2013 at 2:14 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 14
"But we want to make a clear distinction between people who are attracted to child porn—or to children—and people who have acted on those attractions," is that like "Hate the sin but love the sinner"?

Right wing Christianists use that argument against Gay folk, saying some thing like 'we don't hate Gay people, it's their yucky yuck behavior we object to.'
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on January 18, 2013 at 2:15 PM · Report this
sirkowski 15
"Social Justice Class"

It seems to be as horrible as it sounds.
Posted by sirkowski on January 18, 2013 at 2:21 PM · Report this
@14 - I think there's quite a distinction between how one ought to feel about a person who wishes to pursue consensual adult relationships with a person of the same sex and a person who wishes to pursue such a relationship with a child.
Posted by Kitty_Cal on January 18, 2013 at 2:28 PM · Report this
Did anyone else read the New Yorker article last week about the Adam Walsh law? Basically, people who view child pornography have been locked up years beyond their sentences in institutions where the content of therapy sessions is used against them.…

Look, ma, no pay wall!
Posted by wxPDX on January 18, 2013 at 2:34 PM · Report this
I do vaguely remember the letter in question. An adult child found some stuff on Dad's computer, and Dan pointed out that maybe it was there unintentionally (perhaps Dad downloaded a big directory without checking all the contents, or it was a part of some virus). Dan basically said not to call the cops right away because it might be a mistake. He did NOT say child pornography or looking at such was okay.
Posted by wxPDX on January 18, 2013 at 2:37 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 19
#16 Yes I appreciate that and I agree with you, but not everyone does and that is the issue. There are those that see no difference between same sex attraction and attraction to children. Dan is using "their" argument in the pedophile arena just as the RRR uses the same argument in the SS attraction arena. That is my point. Opposing views sides use the same argument for two distinct situations. It's a paradox.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on January 18, 2013 at 2:59 PM · Report this
@14, in this case, it is making a distinction between behavior that is harmful and desire that has not been acted on. Far different than consentual behavior that is doing no harm to anyone. If a person has managed to avoid acting on his harmful desires, we should be all in on helping him maintain. There is no actual behavior to hate. He hasn't done anything wrong.
Posted by SeattleKim on January 18, 2013 at 3:02 PM · Report this
More ideological purity horse shit. When it's not the radical right it's loony left with their pious check-list nonsense.
Posted by tkc on January 18, 2013 at 3:10 PM · Report this
OutInBumF 22
I agree philosophically with Sargon. Just where is the distinction? Were we still in ancient Greece, the whole pedophile 'thing' would be moot- it's just what society does. Just as gay was illegal, against society's morals, etc. The catholics et al, are finally advancing to the same point Dan's at with pedophiles re: queerness- 'we know you can't help your attractions, but don't act on them', or something. So there's really no difference in the thought processes, just the object of those processes.
Even the distinction between consenting adults v unable to consent (responsibly) minors is an arbitrary line in the sand we've drawn. At 16, I was more than happy to be 'abused' by my much older queer buddy. Yet the law would have locked him up as a pedophile.
Bottom line is that society decides what is legal v illegal. And society does change its outlook on things with the times. Even the attitude re: pedophile priests has changed with the outing of the gays- in the day when these priests abused, it was simply too shameful to even think about clearly, much less discuss, among both priests and laity. Now that we talk about such things openly, it's changed the whole discussion, and what they've done has become abominable. There was a day when 'Don't want your son buggered, don't let him be an altar boy' was kind of the way it was.
Posted by OutInBumF on January 18, 2013 at 4:06 PM · Report this
Ms Hopkins and Mr Arsenic both gender the instructor contrarily. Fair enough. But which of them is right?
Posted by vennominon on January 18, 2013 at 6:25 PM · Report this
Oh - and apologies to Ms Margaret for not mentioning that she genders the professor noncontrarily.
Posted by vennominon on January 18, 2013 at 6:35 PM · Report this
My opinion of James Cantor has just tanked. What a bully.

I think the professor was wrong. Dan, as usual, handled this well.

But Cantor encouraging the student to file a formal complaint to dept. chair and licensing board? Whoa! (since when are professors licensed? unless I guess the professor is a psychologist or a doctor)

Nowhere in what the student said, did the professor threaten the student's grade, neither explicitly nor implicitly, nor do anything unethical or incompetent.

It is perfectly OK for a teacher to share personal opinions when relevant to class content, provided they delineate it's personal opinion, and are open to a two-way dialogue with a student with the expectation that either prof. or student (or both) might change their minds on the basis of evidence -- which is exactly what happened.

Isn't this type of exchange what should be taking place in college? Especially in a social justice class?
Posted by delta35 on January 19, 2013 at 7:12 AM · Report this
Canadian Nurse 30
If Cantor read the first email and not the second, I understand what he's thinking.

The professor used strong language making baseless accusations with no sourcing (both pro child porn & other "dangerous advice") and then used victim status to discourage debate. Within the context of the power a professor has over an undergrad, that's the real academic bullying, IMO.
Posted by Canadian Nurse on January 19, 2013 at 8:00 AM · Report this
College students out there -- puhlease save your complaints for real jerks. (And if your prof has tenure, you're probably shit out of luck.)

Opinion of Dan went down a notch too, for not questioning Cantor's suggestion to go to the dept. chair about being afraid even though there was no intimidation, no professional wrongdoing. There's a whole school of pedagogy in social justice that disclosing one's history is relevant and a good teaching technique.

Plus, many profs are not tenured. I once was not re-appointed after I said in lecture "in my opinion our society is really fucked up on this issue" [not giving homeless people enough support], and a Christian student complained about the f* word. They found someone else to teach next time... even though 95% of students said my class was the best they'd ever had. Now I have tenure and have been a dept. chair, and on the other side, it's all about reducing liability, even if a complaint is groundless, easier to hire another adjunct next time.

Methinks Cantor & Savage don't understand how colleges in USA work and/or were assholes on this point.
Posted by delta35 on January 19, 2013 at 8:02 AM · Report this
I think in all this discussion it is often lost that a lot of the people who rape children *ALSO RAPE ADULTS.*

some pedophiles don't harm children, either directly or by consuming child porn, and on the other hand, a large portion of the people who *do* harm children are *not* pedophiles in that they are also attracted to adults and just don't give a shit about consent, is all.
Posted by jemand on January 19, 2013 at 8:12 AM · Report this
@30 well, I re-re-read the student's first letter and the direct quote from the prof that begins "Just an FYI, there are those of us who do not believe..."

I don't see any intimidation or abuse of power or failure to indicate it was personal opinion.

The prof. was wrong on the facts, and of course professors should be correct.

As to victim status, I hear you, there's a school that says professors should be to-the-facts-only and never mention anything about who they are, but frankly that's dated, today the pedagogy says engage, share, delineate your experience, encourage dialogue.

The prof. concluded by praising Savage's IGB project -- indicating the door was open for dialogue and the prof. was respecting the student's appreciation of Savage (and we now know the dialogue took place).

So again, the prof was an idiot and wrong, and maybe you don't like his/her pedagogy, but from what was given to us and Cantor, def. not abusing power.
Posted by delta35 on January 19, 2013 at 8:13 AM · Report this
@18 I'm pretty sure it was actually a podcast call-- I started listening to the archives fairly recently. But I think you have the story and the advice correct. That said I also at the time was thinking, "Dan's right, probably not pedophile... but..."
Posted by Liam3851 on January 19, 2013 at 9:12 AM · Report this
@22 I think laws preventing older men from having sexual relationships w/ under age boys serve a legitimate purpose. In some cases a sexual relationship between a 16 year old boy and an adult man might be healthy and mutually beneficial. However, I think such a relationship is more likely to be exploitative than a relationship between an 18 year old and an older man. Most people grow up a lot in their late teens. Some people mature faster than others, but the law needs to draw the line somewhere.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on January 19, 2013 at 9:30 AM · Report this
pointy 36
This struck me as a little Reader's Digest-y. Could Dan have gotten trolled by some student who made up this insanely terrible(and eventually repentant) social justice professor just to get Dan write back to him?
Posted by pointy on January 19, 2013 at 9:31 AM · Report this
@19: It's not a paradox. You consider a case on the merits of its particulars, not on its syntactic similarity to some other case. If mere similarity in logical construction granted the same validity, we would be grinding up people along with cows for hamburger.
Posted by avast2006 on January 19, 2013 at 10:04 AM · Report this
@25: You do know what the V in "HIV" stands for?

hint: "Human Immunodeficiency VIRUS." Not "Human Immunodeficiency Buttsex."

Posted by avast2006 on January 19, 2013 at 10:12 AM · Report this
@ 23, Mr Ven:

I was surprised that some commenters gendered the professor female. In my mind the instructor was definitely male.
Posted by migrationist on January 19, 2013 at 11:09 AM · Report this
Think it's this column that people keep trying to cite?…
Posted by snakes on January 19, 2013 at 12:43 PM · Report this
Ms Migrationist - Okay, that's 2 F>M, 1 F>F and 1 M>F. We need a larger sample size.
Posted by vennominon on January 19, 2013 at 1:31 PM · Report this
Canadian Nurse 42
vennominon: The Gender Guesser website votes M, with too few words for accuracy.
Posted by Canadian Nurse on January 19, 2013 at 3:10 PM · Report this
I think the instructor might have misinterpreted this column:… which is not about child pornography, but incest pornography, which is most likely made with legal-age performers. I think the distinction Dan drew in the column, between people who are turned on by incest as an erotic hypothetical and those who want to fuck their nonhypothetical relatives, was very smart and sensible. I can see, however, how an incest survivor might have failed to read it correctly on account of being emotionally triggered while reading it.
Posted by I have always been... east coaster on January 20, 2013 at 12:09 AM · Report this

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