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Oct 23 2013

Ow, cringing

Yikes, this is an awkward story. A teaching assistant mailed her students personal, nude photos of herself instead of homework answers. If it was a genuine mistake, and I assume it was, I feel for her — she’s going to get some unfortunate student feedback.

But to everyone giggling over it, I would say, grow up. Adults are sexual beings. They will have sex lives; they aren’t going to sacrifice that so students can pretend they’re all alabaster statues. This was an unfortunate error, but it doesn’t mean she’s something unusual: educated people, like your professors, tend to have rather adventurous and interesting sex experiences. They just don’t usually expose them.

But most of my cringing is reserved for the commenters at the link who are making much of the fact that the woman was of Asian descent, and are throwing around jokes built on offensive stereotypes. There is no shame in a person having sex. There ought to be quite a bit of shame in being a bigot.

70 comments

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  1. 1
    Sven

    Ah, EMAIL makes more sense.

    When you used the word “mailed”, I thought you meant, like, using the US Postal Service. I was staggered that anyone could make such a “mistake”.

  2. 2
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    And this folks is why you should use good data management strategies. Clear and accurate files names, with good folder hierarchies help prevent mistakes.

    Or, as the good book says, “Let xe who has never accidentally grabbed the wrong file cast the first stone.”

  3. 3
    arensb

    And this is why I prefer to have a no-cameras-in-the-bedroom policy. It drastically reduces the chances of this sort of thing.
    Other people’s mileage may, and will, vary.

  4. 4
    NitricAcid

    Yes, adults are sexual human beings, but we’re also (mostly) beings who can’t help but laugh at the misfortunes of others. At least a little.

    I hope it doesn’t cost her her job.

  5. 5
    NitricAcid

    I nearly did something like that once. A student was having trouble with NMR spectroscopy, so I offered to lend her a book that I had on the subject. Half an hour before she came by to pick up the book, I happened to pick up the book and leaf through it for the first time in ten years. A photograph of a girlfriend from ten years ago fell out….not a photograph that was safe for work….

  6. 6
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Oh, are we sharing “having porn where others can see it stories now?
    This week I wanted to show a fellow student a book on my e-reader that might be helpful for him.
    So, what comes up first while he has his nose over my e-reader?
    Yep, Greta Christina’s “Bending”….
    And I’m feeling really sorry for the TA

  7. 7
    Jackie

    She exposed herself to her students by sending them amateur porn. Accidental or not, that was unprofessional and likely freaked out her students. I would not be opposed to her losing her job. I’m comfortable with sexuality and nudity, but I don’t want to receive unsolicited porn from anyone.

  8. 8
    Jackie

    The images are from a video chat that is quite sexual in nature. It appears that two people are “cyber-sexing” from different locations using video equipment. Both are nude and, well, “engaging” themselves in a sexual manner. They appear to be having a grand time. Furthermore, some of the images are in .gif form (short, animated clips).
    Read more at http://totalfratmove.com/t-a-at-university-of-iowa-emails-her-own-nude-photos-to-class-instead-of-homework-assignment/#WqoZ0zezLDbXP7zQ.99

    That’s not just nude photos.

  9. 9
    Eamon Knight

    This is why I will never, ever, under any circumstances, take intimate photos of myself*. With film, the worst you had to worry about was someone at the lab taking a peek (and maybe an extra print or three). With digital, it’s way too easy to make copies, and send them all over the internet, whether through one’s own carelessness or someone else’s malice.

    *Not that anyone would particularly want to look at such images.

  10. 10
    Inaji

    Jackie:

    and likely freaked out her students.

    Oh FFS, these are university students, not little sprogs. Surprised, no doubt. Freaked out? I seriously fucking doubt it.

    She should not lose her job for this, shit happens. If the majority of people in the U.S. weren’t such hypocritical prudes, this wouldn’t have even garnered notice.

  11. 11
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    University students? No. No losing jobs over this. I’m not opposed to a disciplinary letter or something. Unwanted exposure to porn is a serious form of sexual harassment, and it shouldn’t be easy to say, “Whoops”. There should be a record so that patterns can be noticed.

    But other than a letter in a file (and the possible, and very reasonable, future use of that letter in promotional decisions when someone has an equal performance history but does *not* have a letter for carelessness on file), and assuming this was an honest accident, I see further actions as unnecessary and inappropriate.

    As for racializing her sex life (I’m not asserting racial slurs ‘cuz I won’t read the thread with those comments. I’m sticking to PZ’s comments as evidence instead) that should be stomped hard using tried-and-true bystander strategies.

  12. 12
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Yeah, I think it would be reasonable if she lost that class, but the job?
    No.

  13. 13
    Gregory in Seattle

    First off, thank goodness this was a college TA. Someone working with younger kids would likely be facing serious jail time and probably being ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life, mistake or not. Laws tend not to be very forgiving or flexible about such incidents when they involve minors.

    Second, whether or not she will or should lose her position, her professional prospects will almost certainly be damaged. All it takes is one idiot to post them somewhere on the web, and they will be there forever. If her name is attached to them, then they will show up every time a prospective employer does a search. Even if the videos themselves do not surface, if her name gets attached just to articles like this one, finding employment will become much more difficult. As recent political discussion shows all too well, there are a lot of very sex-negative people in a lot of positions of power in the US.

    With luck, this will become nothing more than a learning experience for her. I can’t help but to fear, though, that it will become a case of “Once burned, forever scarred.”

  14. 14
    anuran

    I’d say she’s already been punished more than enough.

  15. 15
    Hershele Ostropoler

    Crip Dyke @ 11:

    Unwanted exposure to porn is a serious form of sexual harassment, and it shouldn’t be easy to say, “Whoops”. There should be a record so that patterns can be noticed.

    No one else* is bringing that up, because the TA is a woman.

    I know how MRA that sounds, so I want to clarify that I recognize that it’s because we-as-a-society think this is what women are for, and feminism is the solution to that problem.

    *Deliberate hyperbole, I’m sure people are bringing it up, but I mean relatively.

  16. 16
    Jackie

    Caine,
    I know they aren’t kids. It would bother me to receive unsolicited porn staring a prof. or co-worker. Even if a friend did that, I’d still be all, “WTF, mate?” Being sex positive doesn’t mean thinking that emailing gifs of you masturbating out to several students is just a faux pas. I don’t think that it’s prudish to say that she crossed a line that could very well cost her job and I think the university would be within it’s rights to fire her. It isn’t the fact she made a sex tape that’s the problem, it was sending it to her students that was the problem. That it was accidental is certainly better than had she been doing it for the thrill, but the outcome was the same. I’m not saying she should be fired, but that I think firing would be justifiable. Honestly, I can’t believe you are defending sending people sex tapes of yourself who did not ask for them as being no big deal. Those students are paying for a university education. They should be able to expect a certain level of professionalism from the university staff.

  17. 17
    Jackie

    anuan,
    Who is talking about punishing? There are reasons for the university to consider ending her employment with them that do not include punishing her.
    Yes, what’s she’s been through sucks. I don’t think I’d be brave enough to get in front of that class again.

  18. 18
    John Horstman

    She should probably be fired. This is sexual harassment (TAs have power over students by way of grades, and power differentials are the basis of sexual harassment), and could be experienced as harmful by students. We can’t run around saying unsolicited pictures of men’s genitals sent to unsuspecting women constitute harassment but pictures and gifs sent by a woman aren’t, even granting that gender is part of context and gender differentials can mean the same actions have different effects/impacts depending on gender. Seriously, I have plenty of porn on my computer, and I have never accidentally sent any of it to anyone. Why? Because I keep it in its own folder. It’s not difficult. Accidental sexual harassment is still harassment, and this is not a simple mistake to make unless one is incredibly negligent, almost willfully negligent. I would love it if people didn’t have sexual hangups (or histories of harassment or abuse involving assault or exposure to sexual imagery that causes uninvited exposure to sexual imagery to be experienced as triggering or otherwise harmful) such that uninvited sexual imagery was never experienced as harmful, but we don’t live in that world, and people trading in sexual imagery thus have an heightened responsibility to exercise caution in distributing files from the same computer/storage device on which they keep such images. This is exactly as much of a problem as it would be if I posted some porn of myself on our front office bulletin board.

  19. 19
    garyyoung

    “… educated people, like your professors, tend to have rather adventurous and interesting sex experiences.”

    What, no details or pictures! :-)

  20. 20
    LykeX

    We can’t run around saying unsolicited pictures of men’s genitals sent to unsuspecting women constitute harassment but pictures and gifs sent by a woman aren’t…

    Are anybody saying that? I’m not seeing anyone saying that. I see people making distinctions between intentionally sending sexual pictures and doing it by accident. Those are obviously different situations and should be dealt with differently.

    It’s not the gender that makes the difference and frankly I’m not sure how you got the idea that it was.

  21. 21
    moarscienceplz

    Everybody please remember the important thing here is that Jackie & John Horstman got to demonstrate their moral superiority over that slut TA.
    (/sarcasm)

  22. 22
    vexorian

    You mean professors are people too? Woah.

  23. 23
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    moarscienceplz #21

    Everybody please remember the important thing here is that Jackie & John Horstman got to demonstrate their moral superiority over that slut TA.

    Woah there. Agree with them or not on whether her conduct was professional or not, neither of them made any such argument.

  24. 24
    moarscienceplz

    Daz #23

    They both said she should be fired irregardless of whether she did it accidentally. I can only conclude that they think the mere fact that she did sex stuff over the internet makes her morally unfit to be a TA.

  25. 25
    Travis

    How embarrassing. I feel for her, and this going so public must be pretty traumatizing. I do not see any reason for her to lose her position over this. As long as it was a mistake I think this should largely be a teaching moment for her. At most I think she should be done TAing this class for the term, perhaps make a formal apology.
    The worst experience I have ever had happened recently when a tech came over to finish hooking up my new DSL connection. He wanted to do a speed test and when I opened up my computer we saw that I had left a page on Fetlife open. A few coughs, and some self depreciating humour followed but we got through it.

  26. 26
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    moarscienceplz #24

    I can only conclude that they think the mere fact that she did sex stuff over the internet makes her morally unfit to be a TA.

    I see arguments that mailing recordings of sex acts to her students was unprofessional. I see no argument anywhere in this thread to the effect that making such recordings was in any way shameful.

  27. 27
    moarscienceplz

    #26 Daz

    So depriving her of a paycheck is just friendly joshing?

  28. 28
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    moarscienceplz #27

    Here’s Jackie @16

    It isn’t the fact she made a sex tape that’s the problem, it was sending it to her students that was the problem.

    If you want to argue with Jackie and John that her conduct justifies firing her or not, go right ahead. I’m merely pointing out that accusing her of unprofessional conduct does not imply that they’re calling her a slut. Which argument you’re now, all-of-a-sudden, not addressing. Why is that?

  29. 29
    moarscienceplz

    Daz,
    I’ve been an employer. To my mind, firing is the moral equivalent of a death sentence. I have fired people, but only after talking to them about what they did wrong and giving them multiple chances to correct their behavior. To want to summarily fire someone for what all evidence points to as an accident indicates to me that they think she is irredeemable, and I think the fact that sex was involved is the reason why they think that.

  30. 30
    Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I)

    #27 Daz:

    This is an issue of professional conduct. Accidentally sending pornography to students from a position of power is a very concerning problem. It shows, if nothing else, an extremely distressing amount of neglect in communication (that one would allow themselves any remote way of putting personal pornography in an email instead of a study guide), to say nothing of the potential for harassment and liability from such an event. Like Jackie, while I would not personally call for termination, I would have trouble arguing against it being a possible result, due to the above issues of professionalism. It’s a fairly heinous screw-up, although it appears that, per the article update, that Iowa State will handle the matter in another fashion.

  31. 31
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    moarscienceplz #29

    I can see the case for firing (or disciplinary proceedings short of that). She made a mistake, yes. She didn’t intend to send pornographic recordings of herself and her partner to her students. But intent is not magic, and the making of that mistake might itself be deemed irresponsible enough behaviour to justify firing (or etc).

    I’m not saying I agree with that case, but I can see that it can be made—without resort to any judgement whatsoever about the morality of making such recordings. And that’s where I disagree with your comment accusing Jackie and John of slut-shaming. You’re arguing against an accusation neither of them made.

  32. 32
    Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I)

    Corrections! YAY

    #27 was to moarscienceplz

    Further, on #29:

    Your stance on termination of employees is commendable, but just imagine if (hypothetically) an employee of yours accidentally emailed their sex videos to your client mailing list instead of a catalog. Imagine the wave of phone calls (and potential news coverage) as this came up. One can see where some employers would choose otherwise as a matter of liability and customer service.

  33. 33
    moarscienceplz

    I think #30 is aimed at me, not Daz

    I never said that IS should do nothing about this. At the very least, she should apologize to the class. Maybe she should be assigned to non-classroom duties until the end of the semester.

  34. 34
    moarscienceplz

    #32

    Frankly, in that hypothetical, I would be more interested looking at how to prevent such a mistake from happening again, rather than creating a sacrificial lamb.

  35. 35
    Rey Fox

    To my mind, firing is the moral equivalent of a death sentence.

    Mine too.

    One can see where some employers would choose otherwise as a matter of liability and customer service.

    I can certainly see it, but that doesn’t make it any less in my mind a symptom of toxic capitalism running roughshod over the “little people” of the world.

  36. 36
    Rey Fox

    rather than creating a sacrificial lamb.

    That too.

  37. 37
    NelC

    Intent is not magic, but neither is DIY porn necromancy. As far as I can tell, no-one was harmed by this graphical revelation that teachers have sex, except possibly the TA herself, who may well be feeling near-terminal embarrassment. Given that it was an accident, that no laws were broken or charges brought, and that the only real victim is the TA, then firing with prejudice seems like much too much to me.

    Swap her out of that class, send her on an appropriate computer course — at her own expense, even — and maybe give a short suspension seems like the appropriate action. Maybe I’m too soft, but giving her a chance to redeem her error and earn back some penalty points seems a better use of resources than booting her out to cope with the cold economic climate.

  38. 38
    Travis

    But intent is not magic, and the making of that mistake might itself be deemed irresponsible enough behaviour to justify firing (or etc).

    Intent is not magic, but rarely to I find genuine mistakes rise to the level where people should be fired. This is not the case of someone inadvertently making sexist or racist comments because they are ignorant of their privilege and did not realize how harmful they could be, but appears to be an actual, simple mistake. It is not as though they sent nude photos, not intending them to be harmful because they were ignorant of the problems it might cause, but because they clicked on the incorrect file and sent it.

  39. 39
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    NelC & Travis

    For context, you may wish to back up to comment #21. I’m not arguing she should be fired, I’m arguing that an accusation of slut-shaming against other commenters, by moarscienceplz is unfounded.

  40. 40
    anuran

    Jackie teh kitteh cuddler, plenty of people are talking about punishment right here and now. Disciplinary letters, losing her position and sexual harassment actions are all punitive

  41. 41
    RobertL

    If you argue that the fact that this was an accident is relevant, isn’t that just the “intent is magic” fallacy?

  42. 42
    Chaos Engineer

    Your stance on termination of employees is commendable, but just imagine if (hypothetically) an employee of yours accidentally emailed their sex videos to your client mailing list instead of a catalog

    I don’t see why we have to imagine this as a hypothetical when there are lots of real-world practical examples. At least once a month there’s a story about someone giving out a phone number to hundreds of people, and then finding out later on that they sent them to a phone-sex line by mistake. This month’s version is: S.F. directs Nike Marathon complaints to sex line.

    These things happen. Assuming the employee who gave out the wrong number had been an OK employee up until now, I can’t imagine firing them over a one-time mistake. It just seems petty and mean-spirited.

  43. 43
    Travis

    If you argue that the fact that this was an accident is relevant, isn’t that just the “intent is magic” fallacy?

    Maybe I misunderstand how “Intent is not magic” is used, but I do not think it was meant to equate all situations. Your intent does not change how people feel about your actions, and it does not make what you do right, but I do not think it was intended to make all situations equally as bad and deserving of the same response.

  44. 44
    Bill Dauphin, avec fromage

    Sven (@1):

    When you used the word “mailed”, I thought you meant, like, using the US Postal Service.

    What is this “Postal Service” of which you speak? ;^)

    NelC (@37), [just to pick one of several similar comments]:

    Intent is not magic, but neither is DIY porn necromancy. As far as I can tell, no-one was harmed by this graphical revelation that teachers have sex, except possibly the TA herself, who may well be feeling near-terminal embarrassment.

    Yeah, as I understand it, “intent is not magic” means good intentions don’t undo harm; it does not (or at least IMHO should not) mean that intentions have no place in determining how we react to harm.

    If someone breaks my arm, their lack of bad intent won’t make my arm any less broken… but it probably will make a difference in whether or not I call the cops, or a lawyer.

    I won’t say this didn’t do any harm, but absent peculiar individual circumstances, adults catching an inadvertent glimpse of other adults’ sex ought not do much harm (and that it does any harm at all says something about how fucked up our culture is in general about sex); assuming it genuinely was unintentional, I can’t see how the TA needs to suffer any more than she no doubt already is.

  45. 45
    sambarge

    Once, I threw my phone in my purse without its case. I didn’t think anything of it but there must be gremlins in my purse because I managed to text a photo of a bowl of cherries (not a euphemism or anything, it was an actual bowl of cherries) to all my text contacts – 3 times! Talk about purse-dialing.

    Much apologetic texting later, it occurred to me that, if for no other reason than this incident, I would NEVER take photos of a personal nature with my phone. Could you even imagine? Apologizing about that to my boss? MY MOTHER!

  46. 46
    mary2

    No disrespect intended but I find it interesting that one day the consensus of commentaters on this site is that even really nice, good and important people should be severely punished for committing sexual harrassment while the next day the (seemingly) majority view is that sending action movies of yourself masterbating, to people over whom you wield power, should be brushed over if it is by accident.

    We don’t know if any harm was done to these students: we don’t know their backgrounds or personalities. I am aware that I am an old-fashioned prude but I prefer not to receive videos of people I know having sex. I have nothing against porn or photographing one’s exploits but sending them to possibly vulnerable or damaged young people without their consent is erky. I find it hard to believe any students will be scarred for life but the possibility of serious erky-ness is quite high.

    I feel terribly sorry for the poor woman but do not believe that a lack of intent should magically make everything OK – it was a pretty big f*-up which will have consequences for her students, her school and herself.

    I would be interested to hear why her lack of intent should make a difference to the consequences other than if I kill someone with my car by ‘accident’ I will be charged by police with ‘negligent homicide’ instead of ‘murder’ – but I will most likely still be charged.

  47. 47
    chigau (違う)

    mary2 #46

    No disrespect intended but …

    uh huh

  48. 48
    Rey Fox

    one day the consensus of commentaters on this site is that even really nice, good and important people should be severely punished for committing sexual harrassment

    Yes, we really should account for extenuating niceness. Thbbbt.

    should be brushed over if it is by accident.

    I’m sorry, did you catch anybody claiming she should get off completely scot-free?

  49. 49
    Chaos Engineer

    No disrespect intended but I find it interesting that one day the consensus of commentaters on this site is that even really nice, good and important people should be severely punished for committing sexual harrassment

    I don’t see the inconsistency. The consensus is that severe harassment should be punished severely, and less severe harassment should be punished less severely. A single incident of harassment that’s the result of an honest mistake is generally considered less severe. (But it has to be an honest mistake, not, “OK, I’ve read the harassment policy, now I’m going to see if I can figure out any loopholes.”)

    I would be interested to hear why her lack of intent should make a difference to the consequences other than if I kill someone with my car by ‘accident’ I will be charged by police with ‘negligent homicide’ instead of ‘murder’ – but I will most likely still be charged.

    It depends on how negligent you were, doesn’t it? Anyway, the penalty for negligent homicide is a lot less than the penalty for deliberately running over somebody.

    How about this one: If I knowingly write a bad check, then I’ve committed fraud and can go to jail. If I make a mistake balancing my checkbook and write a bad check as a result, then I haven’t committed a crime. (I still owe the money, but that’s a civil matter, not a criminal one.)

  50. 50
    mary2

    Chigau @47, Apologies if it looked like hidden sarcasm: the phrase was meant to be taken literally. I am interested in the discussion because there are a lot of thoughtful posters here – not interested in having a go at anyone.

  51. 51
    Bill Dauphin, avec fromage

    mary2 (@46):

    No disrespect intended but…

    Not for nothin’, but this is almost always an inauspicious beginning to any discourse. But I digress…

    …I find it interesting that one day the consensus of commentaters on this site is that even really nice, good and important people should be severely punished for committing sexual harrassment while the next day the (seemingly) majority view is that sending action movies of yourself masterbating, to people over whom you wield power, should be brushed over if it is by accident.

    I think you’re failing to grok the distinction people are making between “committing sexual harassment” and “[accidentally] sending action movies of yourself masterbating [sic].” In neither case does being a “really nice, good and important” person bear on the matter, and I haven’t seen anyone argue that the harm done (whatever it is) should be ignored. What I have seen is people suggesting that fat-fingering the “Attach File” list might not actually be in the same category of behavior as committing sexual harassment.

    I would be interested to hear why her lack of intent should make a difference to the consequences other than if I kill someone with my car by ‘accident’ I will be charged by police with ‘negligent homicide’ instead of ‘murder’ – but I will most likely still be charged.

    Actually, while laws vary from state to state (and, of course, IANAL), if it’s truly “by accident” — that is, you weren’t operating your car in an illegal manner (e.g., while drunk), or in a way that rises to the legal standard of gross or criminal negligence — you probably won’t be charged with vehicular homicide or negligent homicide.

    It’s funny you should choose the criminal justice system as an analogy: In the criminal justice system [insert Law & Order "chung-chung" sound here], intent is, if not magic, certainly determinative. Intent is an essential element of most crimes, and, really, a major determinant of whether any crime has, in fact, been committed.

    Not that your intent would make your hypothetical victim any less dead, nor would it immunize you from responsibility for your actions. But it sure as hell would make the difference between doing hard time, or losing your license and doing probation, or going home with a ticket and a heavy conscience.

    And her intent should equally have something to say about where this poor TA ends up on the scale of possible consequences for her behavior, too.

  52. 52
    Jacob Schmidt

    This being an accident, I’d say she loses her class.* Firing seems unnecessary. Understandable, perhaps, as this is a monumental screw up**, but unnecessary. The fact of the matter is, students might feel uncomfortable with dealing with her, but losing her class addresses that about as well as firing her.

    I would be interested to hear why her lack of intent should make a difference to the consequences other than if I kill someone with my car by ‘accident’ I will be charged by police with ‘negligent homicide’ instead of ‘murder’ – but I will most likely still be charged.

    Indeed, but you will not be charged for 2nd degree murder, but for manslaughter instead. Your sentence, should you be found guilty, will also be less severe. In both cases you will be charged, but the law does differentiate between intentional murder and accidental murder. No one is arguing that she get off scott free.

    *To those willing to scream “misandry”, yes, the same for men in this situation.

    ** I’ve heard of a guy who accidentally typed rm -r * in the root directory of a company linux server. As accidental as it was, that guy got fired, and quick.

  53. 53
    mary2

    Chaos Engineer @ 49, thanks for your thoughts: excellent clarification. I had not read the severity of the harrassment from the previous post and consequently may have underestimated the crime. (It’s probably fair to blame both a lack of background research and a stereotyping of the nature of ‘harrassment’ – not good Mary2).

    Rey Fox, Did I ‘catch’ “anyone claiming she should get off scot free”? No but several comments which I interpreted as suggesting that personal embarrassment should be consequence enough.

    I have no strong opinions on whether the person should be ‘punished’ or of what constitues a suitable punishment. I am only interested in people’s thoughts about why some people deserve punishment and not others; how serious does an infraction have to be before ‘intent’ becomes irrelevant etc. I thought some interesting suggestions were raised by earlier posters about the possibility of a different societal response according to the gender of the offender and wonder whether they may be some truth to the idea that we would react more harshly to a man sending out unsolicited pictures of himself?

  54. 54
    mary2

    Bill Dauphin and Jacob Schmidt, Nice job – I withdraw my car related death analogy! You are both obviously correct in saying that ‘intent’ is important in law (is it ‘mens rea’ or ‘state of mind’ which lawyers refer to?). I was (obviously badly) trying to build on Bill’s broken arm – intent is irrelevant: the arm is still broken.

  55. 55
    ChasCPeterson

    Moral of the story: carefully label your zipfile of homemade sex gifs.
    or something.

  56. 56
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    If you argue that the fact that this was an accident is relevant, isn’t that just the “intent is magic” fallacy?

    Relevant != magic. Intent is relevant because it predicts future behavior.

    We want to set up a system where people can learn from mistakes and make meaningful decisions to better themselves, not one where every “moral decision” is really just a fucking gambling throw.

    Unless we’re sadistic shits, of course.

  57. 57
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    It just seems petty and mean-spirited.

    WE HAVE A WINNER!

  58. 58
    jste

    mary2

    I was (obviously badly) trying to build on Bill’s broken arm – intent is irrelevant: the arm is still broken.

    You mean this story?

    If someone breaks my arm, their lack of bad intent won’t make my arm any less broken… but it probably will make a difference in whether or not I call the cops, or a lawyer.

    The part I’ve indicated in bold seems to imply that intent is still relevant to him.

  59. 59
    chigau (違う)

    ≠

  60. 60
    Alex

    Mailing sexy material of yourself to a large group of college students simultaneously seems like a very monty python kind of sexual harrassment. It’s up there with the “hitting youself with a hammer on the head” attack. It would look more like sexual harrassment if there had been a single recipient. And even then, giving out explicit material of yourself electronically puts you in such a ridiculously vulnerable position that I have a very hard time seeing this as a punishable offense.
    Also, the righteous people who want her professional life destroyed for this, you disgust me and I hope you will meet a more supportive reaction if you ever make such an embarrassing mistake.

  61. 61
    Jacob Schmidt

    Also, the righteous people who want her professional life destroyed for this, you disgust me and I hope you will meet a more supportive reaction if you ever make such an embarrassing mistake.

    The fuck? You can’t actually quote anyone saying they want her professional life destroyed, can you?

  62. 62
    Alex

    Sorry Jacob Schmidt, I misspoke, I meant getting fired, possibly losing her phd project in the process.

  63. 63
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Sorry Jacob Schmidt, I misspoke, I meant getting fired, possibly losing her phd project in the process.

    Not to be confused with the destruction of her professional life, of course.

  64. 64
    Dutchgirl

    I’ve been thinking about this situation. At first my reaction was ‘throw the book at her’ because it was a major fuck up and she does hold some authority over the students, and it is possible that one of them could have been hurt (if they had past experiences of being harassed or abused, for example). But on further reflection it boils down to how the TA reacted and making sure this is a one time mistake. If she had responded by making excuses for why it was no big deal, or not her fault, or what have you then that would be a red flag. Otherwise, learn from a moment of magnificent failure and move on.

  65. 65
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    As for carelessness, you know that thing your screen does where the active window randomly freezes for a few seconds? That’s decently likely to be what happened here, when she happened to be clicking.

  66. 66
    gmacs

    Azkyroth,

    Not to be confused with the destruction of her professional life, of course.

    …Right… but losing your PhD project and your job and basically having your career torpedoed by an errant click are fucking terrifying to someone going through a PhD program.

    And on another note, is anyone surprised by the name of the douchebag site spreading these pictures around? Fucking dudebros.

  67. 67
    gmacs

    Sorry, Azkyroth, I think I may be too tired to detect sarcasm.

  68. 68
    left0ver1under

    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach (#2) –

    And this folks is why you should use good data management strategies. Clear and accurate files names, with good folder hierarchies help prevent mistakes.

    And/Or separate computers and separate email accounts to make data mingling impossible. Ne’er the TWAIN shall meet, so to speak, when it comes to scanning and emailing.

    Eamon Knight (#9) –

    This is why I will never, ever, under any circumstances, take intimate photos of myself.

    For you or I, that’s good advice. For some, there might be a good reason to do it.

    In 1990s, some of Chuck Berry’s “selfies” were stolen and made public against his will by a third-rate porn magazine. He said in one interview that he took the photos with women (standing together naked and smiling) to prove his relationships were consensual. No doubt that was a decision made after his court trials and prison sentence in the early 1960s.

    http://articles.latimes.com/1990-11-01/entertainment/ca-5218_1_chuck-berry

  69. 69
    Kagehi
    I can only conclude that they think the mere fact that she did sex stuff over the internet makes her morally unfit to be a TA.

    I see arguments that mailing recordings of sex acts to her students was unprofessional. I see no argument anywhere in this thread to the effect that making such recordings was in any way shameful.

    Yes, we will just ignore, entirely, all the people who have ever lost their jobs, on the claim that somehow having “hobbies”, unrelated to their jobs, somehow “reflected badly on their work place”. An argument that I always find repugnant, not just in its prudish stupidity, but the fact that a significant number of people still working for any large institution are probably, right at the moment someone gets fired for it thinking any one of the following, “Man, I am glad I didn’t post mine.”, “Gosh, I am glad I gave that up after college.”, or even, “I really hope that tape from back in … never shows up on the internet. I think they can see my face in it!” Not to mention the ones possibly doing much worse stuff, and just haven’t been caught at it. Because, you know.. the supposed reputation of your work place is so much more important than the reality that “normal” people have lives that have nothing to do with said work place, and may not “reflect well”, on it, for a whole bloody lot of reasons.

  70. 70
    Bill Dauphin, avec fromage

    jste (@58):

    Perfectly right: Intent is irrelevant to the brokenness of the arm, but absolutely relevant to what ought to happen next.

    BTW, while I don’t want to minimize the possibility that some of the students might have been triggered in some way, I think it’s at least plausible, if not likely, that the TA in this case suffered more actual harm than any of her supposed victims. Maybe I’m living in my own private Idaho, but it seems to me that most peoples’ reaction to a brief, unchosen glimpse of porn would be somewhere between mild offense and bemusement, but not actual harm.

    I’m ‘minded of Ira Glass’ bemusement at the need to warn listeners when a story on This American Life even acknowledges the existence of sex. In this fucked up culture of ours, we do a really weird combination of not taking sex seriously enough while simultaneously taking it way too seriously.

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