A chrnology

TORONTO SUN
11.18.95 p.12

PROF PUSHES A PERVERSE IDEA (column)

by Heather Bird

"Sex before eight, or it's too late."

And that, friends and neighbors, is the motto of NAMBLA, the North American Man Boy Love Association. Its views on adult-child sex coincide with those of Gerald Hannon, the Ryerson journalism professor under fire this week.

This is not to say Hannon belongs to the organization. I include it simply to indicate that he is not alone in his perverse belief that intergenerational sex can, at times, be healthy.

Most thinking people disagree. The phone here hasn't stopped this week. There've been calls from teachers, students, alumni, hockey coaches, a Crown attorney, feminists, REAL women and victims, especially victims, who are revolted by Hannon's views and his assertion he will discuss it in class when he deems it relevant.

It is important to be clear about what Hannon believes. A Globe and Mail headline proclaimed Hannon was under the gun for a "teen-sex stand" while the article expanded that to adult men having sex with "consenting teenagers."

That assertion is specious. Hannon's views are well documented (and if there was any doubt, he repeated his stand on Talk 640 Radio Wednesday) and he is talking about child sex. In his infamous essay on this topic - Men Loving Boys Loving Men - a key figure was elementary school teacher Simon and his 12-year-old lover.

Raising the spectre of sex with consenting teenagers is a deft attempt to move the argument into the gay rights arena. Under the Criminal Code, the age of consent differs for vaginal sex and anal intercourse. This is clearly discriminatory and should be changed. (Equal sauciness for the goose and the gander, if you will.)

Bear in mind, however, these are legalities. There is still something immoral about a 14-year-old girl (or boy) having assignations with a 35-year-old male teacher at his apartment.

A curious phenomenon has sprung up as Hannon's supporters have tried to shift the debate. By simply raising the question, author Judy Steed and I are now on a witch hunt which smacks of McCarthyism. I am a "gutter journalist" on a "smear" campaign. One person wanted to know if I had children while another asked if I was a lesbian. (Why do you want to know?)

And then there's the question of integrity. Journalism chair John Miller, in a phone call earlier this week, demanded I reread my notes back to him. When I refused, (I don't work for John Miller) he questioned my integrity. He flat out denied that Hannon had ever raised the spectre of adult-child sex with students. This, despite Hannon's own admission in an interview it had occurred on three separate occasions. Later, it became a "glancing reference" on Talk 640, which was later changed to only when it was "relevant" in a further interview.

For the record, Miller also wanted identifying information about the unnamed student who was quoted in the column. Given that both Miller and assistant chair Don (he'll be fired over my dead body) Obe support Hannon, this provides students an invaluable lesson on the necessity of protecting sources.

What then of the students who have been both loyal and vocal in their support of this popular teacher? Well, it's understandable. They are not yet of an age (most of them) to be parents or uncles and aunts. Students, by nature, are attracted to counter-establishment positions. Besides, they are on the lesser side of a power dynamic. This does not make them milquetoasts. They are simply not fools.

But let the investigation proceed. The inquisition will find no fault; Gerald Hannon will not be fired. (After all, they knew his views when they hired him.) Ryerson, then, in the name of academic freedom will stand four-square behind the professor with the pro-pedophile views.

And if the rest of us don't like it, well, that's too damn bad.


A chrnology