Monday, March 14, 2011

Haunted by the Past

What were you doing fifteen years ago?  Did you engage in a legal activity?  Did you do something illegal?  Do you regret what you were doing 15 years ago?  Does anyone care?

Well, if 15 years ago you appeared in a pornographic movie--you might lose your job--not once but twice.  That is the story of Tera Myers, AKA Terika Dye, AKA Rikki Andersin.  Ms. Myers, 15 years ago, when she was 23, was apparently broke and so chose to appear in a porn film.  She was clearly above the age of consent, made a decision, made a pay check, and did nothing illegal.  In fact, she probably did nothing that she hadn't done in her personal life, the difference is that her escapades were captured on film.  So, after a student found out and reported her to the school system, Ms. Myers is now without a job, having resigned.

But this is not the first time that Ms. Myers lost her job after being outed as a former porn actress.  But just I like a blogged about almost five years ago, forcing Myers to resign sends the wrong, and inconsistent message.  If Mrs. Myers had been appearing in porn videos while employed as a teacher--then there is a case for the violation of a morals clause.  But it is just an argument--not necessarily cause for her firing.

How many teachers out there, young and old, have gone out, had a few drinks and driven home.  That activity is illegal (the drinking and driving--not the drinking).  But teachers who are convicted of DUI are not routinely fired.  But a bigger question is how many teacher drank and drove 15 years ago--before they were teachers.  Probably more than a few, but we don't fire teachers for that activity that happened in the past--an activity that was and is illegal.  Where is the line to be drawn?  What is Ms. Myers has appeared topless in a magainze?  What if she had appeared nude in a magazine?  Would it matter if the magazine were say GQ or Details as opposed to Playboy or Hustler?  What about appearing nude in a magazine with a man or another woman?  What is Ms. Myers was briefly topless in a "mainstream" movie?  What if Ms. Myers has appeared in an R rated movie nude but not in a sex scene?  What is she has appeared nude in a sex scene in an R rated movie?  What about soft core porn, where the sex is explicit but actual penetration is not shown?

Not a single one of these activities is illegal.   But where in that list of options does someone cross a line into immoral behavior?  Where is the line?  More importantly who gets to define where that line exists?

Ms. Myers is described by the New York Post (admittedly not the most circumspect of papers) as "buxom" "blond" and so, if she is attractive (and the picture in the New York Post is not the most flattering), she is almost assuredly the subject of her male students adolescent comments and fantasies.  Why should the fact that Ms. Meyers has a past change that?  Just because a few sexual acts were captured on film doesn't mean that her male (and perhaps some female) students can't imagine it for themselves.

Joanne Jacbos wonders if Ms. Myers should lose her job?  My answer is no.  This is nothing more than a morality police double standard.  If you want to fire a teacher for past illegal activity--you might actually have a problem--if it was disclosed.  But no employment questionnaire that I have ever seen asks if you did anything 15 years ago that is "immoral" based on someone else's unstated standard.  What Myers did was not illegal and in my and many other people's book, not immoral.  You may not agree with her choices, but it is not immoral.
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