[eDebate] "Illegal debating" discussion

James E. Radford jr jeradford
Mon Nov 5 11:20:10 CST 2007

I've been following this discussion with some interest, and wanted to add
something briefly:

I think it's important to note that "sexual harrassment" is understood by
most to have a specific legal definition, and, when a specific act or set of
acts takes place that meets that definition, those acts may constitute one
element of a legal claim, in court, for monetary damages, under law.
Similarly, many institutions, such as universities, have their own
definitions of specific acts or processes that constitute "sexual
harrassment," and, if one engages in those acts, there is some specific
penalty involved.

While Wende may be correct that her partner felt uncomfortable and offended
by the team's sexual simulations, it is a big leap to jump from "offended"
or "uncomfortable" to "the team engaged in specific acts which are
proscribed by (a) law, entitling us to monetary damages, or (b)
institutional policy, subjecting the team to a penalty."

So, there should really be two separate discussions here: (1) Did the
actions constitute actionable "sexual harrassment," and (2) Even if not,
were the actions so reprehensible and offensive, and so lacking in
pedagogical, artistic, or political value, that the team should not have
done the performance?

I think that, based on Wende's characterization, the actions probably did
not meet the def of "sexual harrassment," and, in that case, that term
should probably be extracted from the debate, so that we can focus on the
merits of the performance and not get distracted by a misleading legal term.

Just my two cents, J.
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