Sunday, May 15, 2011

Gross moral turpitude, and other pleasures

So where are all the feminists demanding that a woman's body is her own? Where are the civil libertarians protesting the infringement of this woman's freedom of expression? Where are the liberals upset that private proclivities are being judged as public menaces?

They are nowhere. They have allowed this wanton attack upon individual freedom because it suits their peculiar morality. Worse, this woman did nothing criminal nor even morally wrong. No one was hurt or harmed. She did what she did in her own time – titillated straight men in a magazine format.

I find myself in agreement with Michael Laws. There, I said it. I'll say it again.
Michael Laws is right, in the matter of Rachel Whitwell. She has been barred from teaching, for life, because she posed naked for Penthouse, a magazine that is quite legal and widely available, and because the makers of Penthouse chose to make something of her being a teacher. And where are the liberals? Well, there is the estimable Matthew Taylor; there may be many others but they haven't been discovered, not by me.

At the other end of the moral universe is the SPCS (remember them?) and Family First:
“To pose for a porn magazine simply lets the side down.”
But what of the New Zealand Teachers' Disciplinary Tribunal? How did it come to this decision, to prohibit Ms Whitwell from teaching, for the rest of her life? Well, let's take a peek at decision 011/07, the Whitwell case:

The connection with the teaching profession was made even more explicit with the Respondent obviously draped over a school desk, leaving no doubt that there was a premeditated connection between the Respondent as a pornographic model, and her role as part of the teaching profession. Clearly the Respondent’s participation in a pornographic photographic feature has become a focal point of repeated publicity. It has become high profile, heightening the potential damage to the teaching profession. It was also noted that the majority of the teaching profession are women, who may find the Respondent’s activity and close connection to the teaching profession particularly distasteful.

Finally, in the context of the impact on the wider profession the majority of the Tribunal reflected again on the Respondent’s warning not to impose Victorian standards on today’s modern society which had different values. The majority of the Tribunal considered this issue very carefully and debated it at length. Without a doubt, it was agreed that teachers are expected to set and inculcate the values and standards of the communities they serve. It is true that these values and standards change and evolve over time. The majority of the Tribunal was also guided by the evidence presented by the school, and the reactions of the community served by the school. It was also noted that Rule 9(1)(o), was a broad test that covered actions that brought or were likely to bring discredit to the profession. This signalled a clear intention by Parliament to capture a wide range of activity with the aim of preserving and protecting the integrity of the profession. Accordingly, the majority of the Tribunal concluded after extensive deliberations, that the Respondent on this occasion had over stepped the mark and engaged in serious misconduct that was likely to bring the profession into disrepute.

On the above bases our conclusion is that the Complainant has made out its allegation that the Respondent has behaved in a way which constitutes serious misconduct.

A grave matter, I am sure you will agree. The complainant should be thanked for bringing this matter to the attention of the New Zealand Teachers' Disciplinary Tribunal. That person should step forward and receive proper acknowledgment for this public service. Now, who is that person?

It is one Dr Peter Lind, who happens to be Director of the New Zealand Teachers Council. Yes, you have it right: the sole complainant against Ms Whitwell was the head of the body which deals with complaints against teachers. Rum, you might think, that nobody in the profession complained, that no concerned members of the public complained, that not even the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards complained. Perhaps they were all busy. Fortunately for public decency, Dr Lind made the complaint on everyone's behalf.

And what of the witnesses to this matter? They were:

Neil Kevin Mallon who is one of the New Zealand Teachers Council’s Case Co-ordinators, Aaron James Montgomery who is employed by the Council as a Systems Administrator and the Chair of the Board of the school which employed the Respondent for a time (and to whom we will refer as “Ms F”).

A Council staffer, the Council's IT guy and the Chair of the Board of a school for which Ms Whitwell worked, for a while. Not that Ms Whitwell was working for the school at the time of her posing, or for any school for that matter; she was busy undressing and had no time for teaching.

But wait, there's more. It was not just that Ms Whitwell had posed for Penthouse that prompted Dr Lind's ire; it was also that, once he had made his complaint, she had spoken to the New Zealand Truth about the matter, and done some more posing:

Very broadly speaking, there are three aspects of this. There was an editorial piece in which the magazine focused on the fact that the Respondent was a New Zealand teacher and that her featuring in the magazine was the subject of an investigation by the New Zealand Teachers Council. It sought to portray this as a contest between outmoded values on the one hand and personal freedom on the other. There was a narrative feature concerning the Respondent which emphasised much the same points. Neither of these pieces could be described as high water marks of journalism. Finally, there was a series of photographs of the Respondent. One area of controversy between the parties during the course of the hearing was the extent to which the Respondent was in any sense responsible for the emphasis placed in all of this on her being a teacher. In relation to this, the Complainant pointed both to the references in the editorial and the narrative to the fact that the Respondent was a teacher and to aspects of the photographs. The Respondent’s position, as it emerged, both on the papers and at the hearing, was that XXXXXXXXX was responsible for making the link and that she herself had no control over their editorial or narrative pieces and should not be held accountable for them. Frankly, the Tribunal regards that contention as an attempt to stretch its credibility beyond endurance. By the time of the XXXXXXXXX shoot, the Respondent was well aware that the fact that she was a teacher was an integral part of the magazine’s interest in her, and, by agreeing to pose for the magazine, must be taken to have consented to and been complicit in the presentation of her as a teacher. No doubt the magazine’s staff determined the way in which she was described, but it is in the Tribunal’s view nothing short of disingenuous for the Respondent to say that she cannot be held responsible for this description. Quite apart from anything else, the photographs include one of the Respondent draped over an old fashioned school desk. In the Tribunal’s view, the Respondent must assume responsibility for her being presented as a teacher and the emphasis placed on the New Zealand Teachers Council’s investigation. As to the photographs themselves, they depict the Respondent in various states of undress including totally naked.

Good grief, surely not; and in the Truth of all places. She's gone and done it again. The Director made a complaint agin her and did she realise the gravity of her actions, did she seek to reform her behaviour? No she did not. She flagrantly took off her clothes, again. Hussy. And what's more she made fun of the Director.

And that, gentle readers, is what this is all about. The prudery, self-regard and pomposity of the Director and his Council have been brought into the public realm; so the brazen hussy who did this act ( in various states of undress including totally naked) must be punished.

The charge against her, quite fittingly was one of "bringing the teaching profession into disrepute." Whenever a professional body talks of someone bringing its profession into disrepute, you can be guaranteed that floods of self-justifying cant will follow.

And where, as Michael Laws asks, are the feminists, the liberals? Looking the other way, it seems. This feminist liberal cannot help but think that if Ms Whitwell had done something pervy - some BDSM erotica or whatever - then there would have been hordes of other liberals complaining about vanilla privilege, the latest opportunity for overprivileged people to claim they are oppressed. But because she posed in an old-fashioned way in an old-fashioned dirty mag, the liberals won't touch her. If she had done erotica (the name for middle-class porn), she would have been defended as someone who was celebrating her sexuality; but appearing in a magazine like Penthouse is simply participating in the kyriarchy, allowing oneself to be objectified into male stereotypes of female heterosexuality.

No, no no: too much male gaze going on there; Penthouse is the sort of magazine that builders read, after all.


Psycho Milt said...

Thanks for letting us know who the complainant was. The teaching profession certainly has been brought into disrepute by this incident, just not in the way the NZ Teachers' Council thinks.

Hans Versluys said...

I'm so not looking forward to Teacher's Council IT staff appearing naked on NZ Dating.

Boganette said...

'And where, as Michael Laws asks, are the feminists' - Ummm busy? Ummm too tired to address this particular example of sexism? Ummm quietly angry but unable to speak out about this issue? Ummm working their asses off on more widespread examples of sexism that impact more women than this particular one? Ummm recovering from a hangover and not reading a bullshit column by a raging fuckwit?

I am but one angry feminist liberal blogger but I don't agree with any of the above you've said is the view of 'feminists, liberals'. Do I think any woman should be punished for the choices she makes in private life? Hell fucking no. Do I have time to blog about it and shout it from the rooftops? Nope. Do I want to read a column by woman-hater Michael Laws? HELL FUCKING NO. Does that mean I don't care about it? Nope.

Also feminists aren't a hive mind. We don't all think the same. I personally don't care at all if a woman chooses to pose in Penthouse or any other magazine. It would be just totally ace if you could give just one example of an NZ feminist who has said anything even close to "appearing in a magazine like Penthouse is simply participating in the kyriarchy, allowing oneself to be objectified into male stereotypes of female heterosexuality". That sounds like something a feminist wouldn't say. It sounds batshit to me.

Anonymous said...

Errr, possibly more occupied with the latest attack on adolescents abortion rights, as manifested by Family First and fundamentalist counsellor Steve Taylor (24/, mon frere?

Craig Y

Steve Taylor said...

Hey Craig, turn your comments back on at your blog - I wish to add to the 100+ comments I have made on your vacuous articles to date, that have all been deleted by you, not because they were abusive, and not because you were under attack - but because they were true. I'm still waiting to hear from your Lawyer - hope you weren't bluffing on that threat Craig - you will look very, very silly if you were.

You've been pretty quiet yourself Paul - struggling to find relevance, are we?

Steve Taylor

Anonymous said...

Well thats pretty rich coming from you Mr Steve Taylor the master at deleting replies and comments on your many blogs and false statements online. You do not allow truth to be told on your sites, only lie after lie after lie. The pot calling the kettle black?

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