Adventures in Ethics and Science

I really don’t know what to say about this news item, except that it had better mean that the California State University presumptively* views blogging on one’s own time and bandwidth as fully compatible with a professorial appointment, regardless of the subject matter on which the blog is focused or the views expressed by the academic doing the blogging.

Otherwise, there is a pretty messed up double-standard in place.

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*Obviously, violating FERPA, HIPAA, or other laws or regulations would count against that presumption.

Comments

  1. #1 Transient Reporter
    April 22, 2010

    The dude is a shit – just another ass who gives tenure a bad name.

    But the more interesting question is: what policies should universities adopt regarding faculty blogging on university time, using university computers, via university servers? How might this differ between private vs public schools? What has been your experience?

  2. #2 Rob Knop
    April 23, 2010

    Yoiks, that’s very yucky.

    I have to admit, though, that I strongly do think that the University shouldn’t have any say as to whether or not a professor is running a very creepy site like this, if he’s doing it on his own time. To say otherwise is to start down a scary path towards feudalism. Too many (most?) companies have at least official policies that restrict the behavior of their employees on their own time, in a way that I think shouldn’t be legal. I worked at Linden Lab for a couple of years, where we had no problems with the fact that one of the devs was also a guy who did hobby work on “teledildonics” (it cracks me up that that’s even a word). But, a year or so in, the PR people started making noise about how people were going to have to start thinking about making choices about their personal life based on whether or not it hurts the company…..

    HOWEVER, in this specific case, there’s more at work. “Sex tourism” would all be fine and well if the “sex workers” who were servicing the tourists were adults who made, with open eyes, the choices to go into their profession willingly. I think that US laws saying you’re not allowed to encourage people to go overseas to (say) smoke pot in Amsterdam are not laws that we should have, even though smoking pot is illegal here… and likewise for prostitution (in most states). But, in the real world, “sex tourism” is code for an industry that does a lot of really, really, awful, terrible, evil things in the world. I’m talking the slave trade that still goes on, young girls who are sold into slavery by destitute parents and are sent to places that exploit them so that rich western businessmen and sexist bastard professors can fly over and abuse minors in ways that are highly illegal in the USA. Given *that*, this guy is beyond creepy. And if he’s just doing what it looks like he’s doing, it’s legal, and freedom of speech allows you to say things I think are creepy, that’s one thing. But if he’s getting kickbacks from parts of the slavery industry, then the FBI needs to get on this guy and find out if he really ought to be incarcerated.

    I have lots of mixed feelings. Fear of child porn has led lots of governments to enact really terrible, freedom-killing laws in lots of places. But the reality of the sex slave trade is something we can’t deny, and the fact that a small fraction of the pillars of our community (i.e. the rich businessmen) are enabling this is something that we should feel deeply ashamed of.

  3. #3 Canadian Curmudgeon
    April 23, 2010

    I really can’t see any issue here. As long as he’s not breaking any laws, and he’s not using university time or resources, what’s the problem. I may not agree with what he is doing, but what the hell does that have to do with anything.

    In university, I took several courses taught by RC priests. I sure didn’t agree with their non-professorial activities, but it didn’t interfere with their ability to teach the subject material.

    Over the years, I have worked with christians, and as long as kept their proselytizing outside of work, it was a non issue. Since I am a pretty rabid atheist, it could have led to serious conflict, but we all knew enough to keep work and religion separate.

  4. #4 Marion Delgado
    April 29, 2010

    He’s an economics professor at an American university. That sort of behavior is in his job description.