On controversies in the Classics – with updates

Original Post Title: On Classics and Pedophilia

Update: On 7 October I received a letter from Prof. Hubbard asking me to take down this blog post by Oct 15 at which point he would contact his lawyer “A Harvard JD and successful specialist in this type of litigation”. Among other points below he argues that my use of the term pedophilia was potentially misleading and did not match the DSM-5. Words as we know have both connotations and denotations, in no case did I mean to imply I could diagnose colleagues living or dead. I’ve struck out the word pedophilia throughout to acknowledge the potential misunderstanding of this charged vocabulary.

He also suggests that I lack scholarly expertise to write on these matters. To be clear, this is not scholarship. This is a blog in which I summarize and collect links to material readily available elsewhere and reflect on my own experiences and ideas.

Letter in Full.

As he says on page 4 of the letter:

“Indeed, it might be a good exercise to show your seminar your blog and this letter responding to it, so that your students can assist you in developing proper standards of respectful scholarly conduct.”

I whole-heartily agree and accept the pedagogic value of this exercise. The class has already seen the blog and I will certainly share this update including the letter in full. Although the power dynamics of a classroom make it inappropriate to expect my students to ‘school’ me as instructor. Thus I invite any peers to offer feedback.

Original Post:

Content includes references and testimony regarding modern sexual abuse of children including discussion of grooming and pornography, no explicit a few details are given, but links may contain such more graphic details.

The conditions of writing (thanks Joshel!) are that I’ve just spent far too long in a pandemic trying to remove translations and materials written by controversial figures from my sexuality and gender UG class. I’ve done this so my students need not read about child sex in the ancient world from those either convicted of child sex crimes or who are alleged to dispute the need for laws that seek to protect children from such crimes. I write this as I prepare for a Graduate seminar on professional ethics in Classics. I write this as someone who experienced grooming by a male sexual predator at the age of four and reported and was believed and then had my whole world turned upside down for months as adults tried to protect me as best they knew. That’s another story. Sexual violence occurs every 73 seconds in the US–its just not that unusual. It is unusual to talk about. We need to talk about it.

Update: Hubbard says that my use of the term grooming “suggests that it never progressed to actual molestation”. What this means is unclear to me: my most vivid memories are of an engorged penis in a tent and a jar of urine and a feeling of being deeply disturbed as I watched my underwear from that night dry on a clothes line. He is correct that the reactions of adults around me namely the disruption of my lived environment and separation from primary carer upended my life but his implication that their efforts to ensure my safety were somehow worse than “whatever this alleged predator actually did to [me]” is wrong. Do I feel scarred or traumatized? Do I consider myself a ‘survivor’ or ‘victim’? No. Does it shape my world view? Absolutely. Hubbard contrasts his life experience and desires with mine saying that “for that reason, I am able to be completely objective and dispassionate in my scholarly work on the subject”. I reject the idea that those with lived experience are some how less capable scholars on the matters regarding which they have personal experience. However, scholars are allowed to disagree on such things.

Moreover, after he implies that my lived experience clouds my judgement, he says that my lived experience is far off that of gay teenagers exploring their sexuality. This needs correction. I am queer and explored my sexuality as a teenager. My queer identity (even though I did not label myself as such at the time) directly informed how my parents sought to safe-guard my well-being while simultaneously allowing me to develop in my sexuality; this was entirely appropriate. Do I know what it is like to be a male teenage? Nope. I’m a cis-woman. However, here in lies a quandary, perhaps he is a better scholar of sexuality because of his completely legal lived experiences as well?

Hubbard also worries that I am denying my students his scholarship. No, I mention it, including my admiration for his skills as a translator; I have made past course materials that utilized it available through the regular teaching platform. I simply don’t require they read it. The controversy around him changes the conditions of reading such that I no longer find them useful primary teaching materials.

In what follows underlining with italics indicates something newly added. A strike through indicates wording changed because I concede Hubbard’s objections. Note that Hubbard’s letter gives his views on all four men I mention before I mention him in this original post.

Original Post:

So I am putting this information here so that it is easily available. This is intended to be a record of what has been said, done, and documented. It is not an op-ed. I don’t have the emotional energy to write that, just finding this has been exhausting.

Feedback and links to further sources are welcome.

Classics has a number of three published scholars that are documented pedophiles have been found guilty of crimes of a sexual nature involving minors (if extended to biblical scholars this list would be longer)

Holt Parker, formerly Cincinnati, now in federal prison for child pornography

Eidolon article by Sarah Scullin putting this in context for the discipline at large

His work is widely cited and long considered foundational, especially “Tetratogenic Grid” and “Myth of the Heterosexual

He inspired an essay on whether such academics should be cited, e.g. Marguerite Johnson’s piece

Christopher Haas, formerly Villanova (faculty page still up up on 29 Sept 2020, down on 8 Oct 2020), writing on late Antique Christian authors, sentenced to 20-month federal prison term for child pornography with 10 years of supervised release, committed suicide before this prison sentence began

Andrew Dyck, formerly of UCLA, primarily Cicero and other Latin authors, sentenced to 6 months for one felony count of sending harmful matter over the Internet with the intent to seduce a minor and one count of attempting to do so

Another older matter has recently received much attention. Hindley was never changed with any crime. Refer to Hubbard’s letter for another perspective on this:

Clifford Hindley, a British Public Servant and Xenophon scholar, allowed UK government funds to be used to support the Paedophile Information Exchange

We also have an on-going controversy regarding Tom Hubbard, UT Austin, he has been convicted of no crimes and believes my original blog post might imply he committed one. This was not my intent and I have updated to clarify.

Hubbard’s work is broad, including common teaching materials like editing the Blackwell’s Companion to Greek and Roman Sexualities and a widely used Sourcebook

except from linked article
updated content, not part of original post
updated content, not part of original post

He has also this year sued a student for libel. Note his letter directly speaks to this as well.

He posted on Jan 14, 2011 an online a recording of his SCS conference paper “Greek Pederasty, the construction of Childhood and Academic Freedom”

Update. I have chosen not to share the rest of this long email. I will make no further edits to the above material. This email should only be taken to refer to Hubbard’s opinions on the content above. Any further additions or changes will be below.

Richard Pervo received eight years probation and one year in a state workhouse for one count of distribution and five counts of possession of child pornography. Thousands of images were found on his computer at the University of Minnesota at the time these were discovered he was serving as chairman of the department of classical and Near Eastern studies. (added 12/11/2020)