I saw Dr. Michael Cullen speaking in on TV3 last night. What he said was interesting because it highlights a tension I have often noted in liberal views of sexual morality . The issue was as follows: A school had hired a teacher. This teacher however had advertised on an internet adult site for a woman to have sex with him. He requested the women be 17 or adding that the younger the student was the better. His partner apparently consented to him doing this and offered to join in, apparently one of them “liked to watch”.
Now Cullen stated that he wanted to tighten up regulations so Schools could dismiss teachers like this. He stated it was unacceptable that a person like this should be teaching teenage girls. He seemed to take this latter claim as obvious and there was no apparent disagreement from anyone in the clip.
Let’s be clear what Cullen is saying here. He is suggesting that it should be permissible to refuse to employ someone on the basis of private sexual behaviour they engage in with other consenting adults (under NZ’s laws a 17 year old is not considered a minor when it comes to sex and hence is a consenting adult). Moreover, he is also suggesting that a person’s private consensual sexual behaviour can be grounds for considering them unfit to teach at public schools. Moreover Cullen appeared to think this was obvious and certainly no one appeared to disagree in this instance.
If this is so the question I have for Cullen and the Labour party is this. If you believe this, why have you repeatedly stated the opposite in the past? This is the party whose activists have repeatedly stated that it’s wrong to discriminate against people on the basis of their private consensual behaviour.
I also have another question. Suppose this teacher had instead of advertising for a member of the opposite sex on a website he had been cruising for causal sex with another man in a local gay bar. Would Cullen say this person was unfit to teach teenage children? Suppose he had advertised for causal in Express magazine? Would that be grounds to discriminate against him and to claim he is unfit to teach at public schools?
I suspect I know the answer to this question. If a person were to make this argument about a homosexual teacher Cullen and his supporters would denounce the person as a bigot and an intolerant homophobe. No doubt the person would be compared to the Nazis and to the Taliban (as though somehow saying that a person is unfit to teach at a school is the same as engaging in mass murder and genocide).
But this raises an obvious question; If it’s obvious that a heterosexual male is unfit to teach because he advertises for sex on the net. Why is a homosexual male who advertises for causal sex in a Gay bar or on the pages of express not also unfit? In both cases the sex is consensual in private. The only difference is the gender of his partner. I thought Labour believed it was wrong to treat same sex relationships differently to heterosexual ones?
If we are to believe what Labours activists have told us then either one of two things is true either (a) Cullen is a pro Taliban Nazi bigot or (b) much of what Labour has told us about consenting sex in private is false and much of the character assassination it has dished out to Conservatives is unjustified. Which is it?
A rational person should not prescribe a principle unless he is willing to also prescribe the logical implications of that principle. If you prescribe a rule but are unable to accept its implications because you find them intuitively absurd then you have good grounds for rejecting the rule. No amount of denouncing others as bigots can change this fact.
The claim that its wrong to discriminate against people on the basis of their private consensual sexual activities has counter intuitive implications. Hence in the absence of compelling arguments for this claim it should be rejected.