the licence test
was sitting outside the Brushtail Café with Joadja on Sunday
morning, trying to follow the tangled thread of Paddy McGuinness's column
in Saturday's Herald.
began as one of the Great Fulminator's diatribes, in this case against
those who dared take a stand against sexual advances made by male academics
to their female students. Then it flipped over into a diatribe against
"predatory homosexual teachers and professors".
was all very confusing, but suddenly (as so often), Paddy lurched in
the opposite direction and advanced a most curious argument for mitigating
circumstances in the matter of teachers of either sex fucking young
people in their charge. I read the words several times with mounting
is probably not the proper word, since there is a long tradition of
sexual affection between the mature and the young in teaching situations,
from Socrates and Sappho on. Apparently there was a very well-respected
and widely liked classics teacher at one of my old schools ... who
was up to such tricks. I never had the good fortune to meet what seems
to have been a very nice, if perhaps, not very moral man.
read the passage out to Joadja.
Is that a rolled-up copy of Quadrant in Paddy's pocket or do
I detect a note of longing?" she snorted."When I was teaching,
I always took it for granted that fucking the kiddies was predatory."
it's not the first time Paddy's expressed himself in such terms, because
I remember something similar from late 97", I said.
went up to the office and hunted out the Paddywatch file, and there
I found the clipping.
the time, Cheryl Kernot was under attack for a relationship she'd had
with an ex-pupil", I remarked as I settled back into my chair in
this bit. It follows a passage in which Paddy comments on the plight
of his fellow member of the Quadrant editorial board, Christopher
Pearson, who had rather unwisely attacked Kernot over her affair. Anyway,
here's what Paddy said then:
the Adelaide Review editor ... cannot complain that his own past has
been brought into the matter, but it needs to be pointed out that
at the age of 22 when he became the lover of South Australia's Chief
Justice, John Bray, who was then nearly 60, Pearson was neither a
pupil nor an employee of his lover. Such relationships between young
and old, especially when the older partner is a person of great intelligence
and civilisation, can be enormously beneficial to the younger partner.
Paddy seems to have shifted ground since then", Jo said. "Now
he seems to be saying that sex with students is sort of okay if you're
a person of culture and sensitivity, but not for others. That's rather
an elitist position though. I mean, who decides who's in the elite?
How do you qualify for the tradition of 'mutual affection'? Lots of
yobs think they're cultured and sensitive."
there could be a licence scheme, or, indeed, a licence for licensious
behaviour with students. You'd get points for smarts and civilised stuff."
A hundred points if you can name all of the characters in Helen Garner's
last novel, five hundred for Collette. Now: who was Winston Smith?"
he the protagonist in George Orwell's 1984?"
wrong, wrong. That goes to show you'd never get a licence. Paddy says
he was the protagonist in Animal Farm, and he's never wrong about
that does explain why Big Brother was so down on Winston ... he must
have been taking liberties with the young pigs".