Volume 90, Issue 66

Wednesday, January 22, 1997



The people vs. Gerald Hannon

Re: Mr. Hannon was not justified, Jan. 14

To the Editor:

Mr. Kiernan's article concerning Gerald Hannon's visit perturbed me. First, there are a couple of facts to be clarified. Mr. Hannon was not invited by the Arts Council, but by a professor who teaches a course in gay and lesbian literature. The Arts Council merely footed the bill. Second, I was at the USC meeting Mr. Kiernan addressed and, to be honest, that was the first I had heard of it. Not only that, but upon further research, some of the facts Mr. Kiernan presented were in error. First of all, although Hannon professor to be a prostitute, he has never been arrested for such a crime. Further, although Mr. Kiernan would like to have us believe that he is not advocating censorship, he is. Censorship is the prevention of the expression of ideas. Mr. Hannon, although reprehensible, is only expressing his ideas.

Academic freedom has been an issue before. In 1989, a professor in sociology produced theories that were completely reviled by the student community and the professor nearly lost his job. We have to ask ourselves, what are we willing to say, who are we willing to offend? and what will be the consequences of our inquiries? The answers to these questions should be decisions of conscience not policy. However, I sincerely doubt that victims and survivors of child abuse would be appeased by the punishment of the arts council. I agree that Gerald Hannon is a sad perverse man, but both Aristotle and Plato are also rumoured to have liked to have sex with boys and yet they are required reading for political theory.

Another problem: who decides right from wrong? Mr. Kiernan? The Pope? Dave Tompkins? Me? The answer is none of the above. What possible policy could be instituted that would ensure the moral viability of all speakers who come to Western? Where would the administrative responsibilities lie for dealing with people that violate such a policy? I challenge Mr. Kiernan to approach me. As a representative of the student body, I will assist him in drafting a motion to be put before council. Let it not be said that nobody cares about how students feel in regards to how money is dispersed or about the nature of academic inquiry as he has suggested.

Brad Johnston
USC Representative, Social Science
VP Academic Affairs, Social Science Students' Council

To Contact The Letters Department: gazoped@julian.uwo.ca