Thursday, June 06, 2013

McGinn Response to Harassment Allegations




Look, I'm not an uptight guy. But the probability of me making a "hand job" joke to a female colleague is 0. And to a student??? WTF?

And when the joke is not even a little bit funny nor clever...well, then one looks for other explanations for why it was uttered.

Me, I leave every even vaguely sexual aspect of myself at the boundary of campus by both inclination and principle. I will say that there is something a little weird and inhuman about philosophy departments. They're radically desexualized places in my experience. I'm not saying that it isn't odd. But that's the way it is, and despite some vague concerns that it might be kind of deranged in a way, it's in accordance with how I naturally conduct myself in professional environments. I'm extremely (some say too) laid back in every other way, but my professional persona is resolutely/reflexively non-sexual...

So it's pretty damned hard for me to fathom the mind-set of someone who'd make that kind of joke to a student.

Yeah, yeah, grad students are different. The boundary between profs and grad students is pretty blurry and often pretty informal...  But still...that hand job joke is just weird and not funny and out of line.

OTOH, if that was the only transgression, it's not a big enough deal to warrant firing.

OTOOH, it sounds like it isn't the only alleged offense.

I've had jobs outside of academia in which there is a fair bit of sexual banter. And some people have told me that thats the way a lot of jobs are. But it's not the way it is in philosophy--not in my experience, anyway. I had a gf in English for awhile, and they were less uptight over there. But, er...people do not generally make McGinn-esque jokes in philosophy departments in my experience.

I'm not saying that the dude should get the chair for this. And I am fully aware that there are people in philosophy who relish the opportunity to blow comments like this out of proportion. But honestly, McGinn's statement doesn't move me in his direction at all.


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