Yesterday’s blog post about the Star’s coverage of the teen-erotica-writing teacher/disciplinarian seems to have generated a bit of talk here (and on Newstalk 1010, where I just chatted with Jim Richards about it), so I thought I’d follow up.
As it turns out, Jacques Tremblay, chief of discipline at the Ontario College of Teachers and author of, *ahem*, The Sexteens, resigned from his post after the Star’s shaming article about him.
This is a shame. Not because The Sexteens is any good (all indications are that it’s just a godawful piece of vanity publishing), but because the Star’s framing of this story takes the focus off the legitimate cases of poor judgment Tremblay exhibited as the chief of discipline. Kevin Donovan uncovered something truly scandalous at the OCT but capped off his reporting with an A1 story about some guy’s dirty hobby and likely masturbatory fantasies, turning an important story into a cheap joke that plays on our prurient interests. Donovan put “Enter Harry Dick” on the cover of the Star and is calling out some guy for his racy prose?
I don’t want to be rushing to the man’s defence — his work as a disciplinarian is evidently pretty poor — but hanging the story on his little hobby is sexphobic and makes the whole thing into a joke.
Moreover, teachers should have the right to pursue private interests. Over on Newstalk, Jim Richards asked me if I’d be comfortable having Stephen King teach my kids if King had written a book about a violent teacher who has an inappropriate relationship with his students. I pointed out that Apt Pupil has a similar theme, and I’d be honoured if my children could study under an accomplished writer. Ditto if they could’ve met Vladimir Nabokov, who wrote Lolita, repeatedly counted among the greatest novels of all time.
Heck, I’d love to have my kids mentored by Kevin Williamson, who created and wrote the first season of Dawson’s Creek, where 15-year-old Pacey has a sexual relationship with his English teacher.
The mere existence of sex, even illicit or intergenerational sex, in someone’s artwork doesn’t make them a criminal or even likely to commit that kind of sex.
What’s truly shocking about this story is the clear double-standard at play in teacher investigations. Indeed, many of the cases the Star uncovered shouldn’t have been before the OCT at all — they should have been before a judge and jury in a criminal court. Take the case of the drama teacher who’d sent hundreds of “sexts” to a female student, cuddled with four girls in his bed on a school trip to England and wrote an email to one about a dream he had about going down on her. That sounds like internet luring, sexual interference, molestation and invitation to sexual touching. He was investigated by the board and got a slap on the wrist. He’s no longer teaching and now runs a sexy boudoir photo studio, which perhaps explains why the Star ran a glamour photo of him on top of its article.
But let’s go back two years, when Jarvis Collegiate teacher David Dewees was accused of invitation to sexual touching and internet luring at a camp. The charges involved two teenaged boys, and the Star misreported that Dewees was accused of assualting them. The media in the city kicked into overdrive, releasing his name, mugshot and home address. Two days later, Dewees killed himself. Did the hyperactive response come about because Dewees’ charges involved young men instead of young women?