Ryerson Polytechnic University has launched an investigation into the conduct of a journalism professor who has written essays sympathetic to pedophiles.
Professor Gerald Hannon, 51, has called for the legalization of adult sexual relationships with children, arguing they're not all abusive.
University officials are investigating allegations, made by the Toronto Sun, that the professor has used the classroom as a platform to promulgate his views.
``We're giving it (the investigation) priority,'' Michael Dewson, vice- president of faculty and staff affairs, said yesterday.
``We're going to determine what did or did not go on in the classroom.''
The investigation could recommend disciplinary measures, even Hannon's dismissal.
Hannon, a part-time professor who teaches a freelance magazine writing class, called the investigation ``an insult and contemptible.''
``I will not take it sitting down,'' said Hannon, who blamed the controversy on the ``McCarythist attitude here.''
``I'll do whatever it takes to stop such an investigation: it's creepy.''
Hannon said his views about child pornography and ``intergenerational sex'' have been discussed infrequently and only in relation to journalism.
``What I write outside the classroom is my business - it has to be because I make my living as a writer,'' he said.
Don Obe, acting dean of journalism, said the faculty has not received a single student complaint about Hannon's classroom conduct.
``He does not proselytize these views in a classroom,'' Obe maintained. ``Those are his private views and he can write about them as he sees fit.''
Obe said he understands that Hannon's views are extreme - and he does not endorse them - but he defends the professor's right to hold them.
``We are standing behind Professor Hannon. As far as we're concerned, he's an excellent teacher and writer and we're lucky to have him.''
Karyn Kennedy, a spokesperson for the Metro Toronto Special Committee on Child Abuse, said the organization is concerned about the situation. She said people who hold Hannon's views do not belong in front of a classroom.
The committee is to discuss what action to take at its next board meeting Nov. 27.
``As far as we're concerned, there's no such thing as a healthy sexual relationship between a child and an adult. Period,'' Kennedy said.
At least twice, Hannon has propounded his views in print about the need to re- examine sexual relations between adults and children.
In 1977, he wrote ``Men Loving Boys Loving Men,'' an article for The Body Politic, Canada's first gay periodical. In it, he contends that an adult involved in a loving, sexual relationship with a child, deserves ``our praise, our admiration and our support.''
(Hannon and the paper were charged with - and later acquitted of - conveying indecent material through the mail.)
Last year, he published an essay in XTRA! - Toronto's gay and lesbian magazine - in which he argued that sex with children is not always wrong.
Hannon said he is not a pedophile, but writes about it on occasion because the subject remains impossible to discuss openly.