Wisconsin – Pornography: A Wink or A Crackdown?

From the desk of Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling:

According to news reports, since January of this year, the Chinese government has been undertaking a “Cleaning the Web 2014” project, resulting in over 100 web sites and over 3300 accounts being shut down because of obscene material and over 200,000 items containing pornographic material being deleted.  Unlike in America, pornography is illegal in China.

A spokesman for one of the state agencies is reported to have said, “Disseminating pornographic information online severely harms the physical and mental health of minors and seriously corrupts social ethos.”

It’s important to note here that Communists rule China.  And some will no doubt very rightly note that this government will also shut down web sites and social media outlets that broadcast any message or belief that is contrary to the ruling Communists.  Nevertheless, this crackdown on pornography in China is noteworthy.

ImageThe Chinese government apparently recognizes that the influence of pornography in their country is harmful and does not help them advance their goals or build affinity with their ideology, wrong-headed though those goals and ideology may be.  Addictions are like that. They take over the person, making them virtually incapable of fully functioning within society as a contributing citizen, regardless of the governing or economic philosophy.

While China is shutting down porn sites, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is winking at a teacher who was caught viewing and sharing porn on a school computer on school time.

It’s been a long time in coming, but DPI late last week finally issued a ruling saying that while Andrew Harris’s behavior was “highly inappropriate for an educator,” it did not rise to the level of “immoral conduct,” as then described and defined in state law.  Harris was a junior-high teacher in the Middleton-Cross Plains school district outside Madison in 2010 when the original complaint was filed. The school board fired him.

However, the teachers’ union jumped in to help Harris in the original investigation.  An arbitrator agreed with the union and ordered the district to reinstate him with back pay.  The case worked its way through the courts with the ultimate decision being that Harris had been unfairly fired.  So this past February, Harris resumed his teaching career at another middle school in Middleton, complete with nearly $200,000 of back pay.

The one option left was for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers to revoke Harris’s license.  That would have meant his teaching days in Wisconsin were over.  But, Dr. Evers and his cronies in DPI, said, no, they wouldn’t and couldn’t do that. Sure, Harris’s involvement with pornography isn’t good; but it’s not so bad that he should have his license revoked.

Image

Tony Evers, Supt. of Dept. of Public Instruction

The Chinese crackdown on pornography because they recognize it hurts minors and everyone else for that matter and especially debases women.  And we can’t even get a teacher removed from a public school classroom for receiving, viewing and sharing pornography on a school computer.  That’s pathetic.

Apparently China is more willing to acknowledge the dangers of pornography than we are. The truth is pornography is a big business—very big, with the United States reaping nearly half of the multi-billion industry’s profits.  Pornography is everywhere, all too readily available.

ImageSeveral studies now report that more than half of boys and a third of girls see their first pornographic image before they turn thirteen. Pornography wrecks marriages. The American Academy of Matrimonial Law reports that 56% of divorces involve one party having “an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.”  A solid majority of college-aged young people, both men and women, say that viewing porn is an acceptable way to express one’s sexuality.

All of this is a terrible condemnation of our culture.  Andrew Harris should have been fired—and no court should have overturned the school district’s decision. Shame on the union for defending this man.  Shame on the courts for being complicit in his returning to the classroom.  The students all know why he was fired and that he got his job back.  What kind of message does that send to them? Pornography is no big deal. It won’t hurt you; it won’t cost you; it’s good. All of those are lies. Harming minor students shouldn’t be part of any school program, implicitly or explicitly.

Being shown up by China ought to embarrass us and scare us. Tragically, if pornography doesn’t embarrass or scare us, I’m quite sure we’ll just arrogantly think China is being controlling and old-fashioned.

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