Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Northwestern Prof. Gary Alan Fine to Sex Abuse Survivors: "Let it Rest"

I've always thought that as a supposed "social science,"  sociology is to science what "performance art" is to art or what "health food" is to food.

Gary Alan Fine
Pretty unsubstantial stuff.

Undergraduate sociology classes usually consist of little more than bull sessions on current events punctuated by some statistical mumbo-jumbo so that the professorial bull session leaders can justify their $190k annual salaries.

That is why on most campuses, sociology classes are what students quite unscientifically refer to "easy A's."

Most sociology professors are little more than blithering idiots and left-wingers to boot, but that of course is redundant.

So I was not at all surprised when the esteemed Northwestern sociology professor, Gary Alan Fine, came out last month and said that sexual molestation of students by teachers was an expected and quite forgivable way of life in the 60s and 70s.

He also said that the victims of such would be "unseemly" to pursue revenge or justice.

Buggery of students by teachers was
said to be endemic at the Horace Mann School

Fine said this on the pages of the April Fools Day edition of the New Yorker magazine, but he apparently uttered that complete gibberish with a straight face.

He was commenting on the sexual molestation scandal at his preparatory alma mater, the Horace Mann School.

The Horace Mann School is an elite, largely Jewish and outlandishly pricey private school located in Manhattan.

It has been rocked by accusations that during the 60s, 70s and 80s, sexual molestation of students by faculty was common and frequent and covered up by school administrators.

Most of the allegations center around buggery of boys when the school was an all male bastion. The school went co-ed in '77 and since then at least one female student has alleged having been raped (in 1980) by a male Horace Mann teacher.

In the New Yorker's voluminous article on the controversy, many of the allegations center on an HM English teacher, Robert Berman.
Alleged RMS serial molester Robert Berman
was Gary Alan Fine's English teacher

Berman is said to have been a domineering, control freak who psychologically manipulated vulnerable students into performing homosexual acts with him.

Northwestern's Gary Alan Fine was a 1968 graduate of Horace Mann and one of Berman's students which is why the New Yorker asked him for his two cents on the matter.

In the article, Fine accepts that Berman’s accusers are telling the truth, but worries that the Horace Mann teachers are being judged by the standards of a different time.

“This was the late sixties, and what we now think of as rape or sexual assault didn’t quite mean the same thing in that age of sexual awakening,” Fine said. “What some teachers did was wrong, absolutely, but there are degrees of wrongness, and what was wrong in 1966 is today much more wrong.

I can’t imagine that in the late nineteen-sixties anyone would have been terribly surprised had they learned that some faculty were having sexual relations with students. Most would not have thought it good, but it was the way of the world.”


This was a time when even consenting homosexual acts were illegal in most states. It was a time when the American Psychological Association listed homosexuality as a certifiable mental disorder.
Larry Fine

It was a time when social conventions would not allow things like the F-word in movies and Bob and Laura Petrie, although married, could not be shown on TV as having a double bed.

And crack social scientist Fine is telling us that parents of that era would shell out thousands of dollars for private school tuition, fully expecting that the hired help would be buggering their boys and raping their daughters?

And get this -- Fine tells the victims of the molestation to just let bygones be bygones:

“Even if they did something wrong, at some point revenge or justice becomes unseemly. At what point do you say, ‘Let it rest’?” Fine said.

Oh, by the way, according to the article one of the alleged victims of sexual abuse at the Horace Mann School, on March 10, 1976, hung himself in his parents' basement.

Another victim committed suicide in 2009.

But Fine says, let bygones be bygones.

Is this clown at Northwestern named Gary Allen Fine --- or Larry Fine?


  1. What some teachers did “was wrong, absolutely, but there are degrees of wrongness, and what was wrong in 1966 is today much more wrong.

    Reminds me of the phrase:

    All people are equal, some are just more equal than others.

    1. And you know, these left wingers in academia are always beating the drums for reparations for the 4th generations descendents of black slaves.

      Are Gary Alan Fine and the people of his ilk telling them:

      "at some point revenge or justice becomes unseemly. At what point do you say, ‘Let it rest’?”

      Funny I never hear them say that in those contexts.

    2. The words "Let it rest" were never utter in regards to the Catholic Church. That witch hunt is still going on.

  2. Fine. Northwestern and Horace Mann should be ashamed. Know what's "unseemly?" When people know of or suspect heinous sex crimes against kids and do nothing.

    David Clohessy, Director, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, (7234 Arsenal Street, St. Louis MO 63143), 314 566 9790 cell,

  3. Fine, hopefully this was meant as an April Fool's joke (of sorts). NOT! My abuse occurred long before Woodstock, I was 14 and carefully groomed, etc. etc., ad nauseum. I am a female survivor of priest abuse, and there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of us who were used and thrown away like broken toys. These bastions of moral authority would look great in orange jumpsuits. Until you have walked in my shoes keep your opinions to yourself.

    1. Kay, you really misconstrued the point of the article -- it was to ridicule Fine's ridiculous apologia and lame defense of the molestation that occurred at his old school.

  4. If the New Yorker asked Fine for his two cents on the matter.. they grossly overpaid. 1) There was *never* a time when a 48 year-old teacher having sex with a 15 year old student was ok. Never. 2) The school ignored at least 18 reports of abuse it received, creating further victims, and covering up decades of systemic failure. Fine could have addressed this present issue instead of glossing over it. NONE of the survivors want revenge in any way - rather, they, along with many concerned alumni, want a full public accounting. Address the healing, not the old men, Gary.

  5. What some teachers did “was wrong, absolutely, but there are degrees of wrongness, and what was wrong in 1966 is today much more wrong.

    I think that what Fine means is that today child abuse is much more taboo today than it was in 1960. So in the 1960s, child abuse was of a lower "degree of wrongness" than it is today. This is not Fine stating his own opinion of how wrong child abuse is; rather, he is explaining the view of 2 societies on child abuse--1960s America, and 2010s America.

    This is also true as to what constituted homosexuality; in the 1960s it was possible to engage in acts with kids that today would constitute homosexuality and pedophilia, but in that time period would have been interpreted as a straight man using his authority over his students. Just as in certain periods of American history, to kill someone in a duel did not make you a murder, but today it very likely could. Societies change their definitions of what it means to be a "homosexual" or "murderer." So back then, it took more than just having sex with people of the same sex to be a homosexual, oddly enough, and it took a lot more than having sex with kids to be a pedophile.

    So I don't think that Fine is stating his own opinion as he is stating those of others. Obviously, he does express his opinion at one point, saying that "at some point revenge or justice becomes unseemly. At what point do you say, ‘Let it rest’?” I think he is suggesting that, as hard as it may be, perhaps victims need to focus on their own recovery as opposed to the punishment of their oppressor. Of course, these two things are very much tied together in cases like these, and I am not completely sure I agree with this statement.

    In life in general, I think that things are very rarely black and white; the victims both worshipped and were terrified of Robert Berman--he influenced how they thought and made many of them the way they are today, for better or for worse. One can say that the negative far outweighs the positive in the relationships between Berman and his students, but it would be hard to deny at least some positive, however small it might have been. Fine was not advocating child abuse or simply telling the victims to forget about it; he was making a point about what it means to have lived through something so horrible in the 60s, and questioning what the best way to deal with this might be.

    But obviously, blogs like these tend to rely on strong views--as opposed to thoughtful commentary--for readership.

    1. Isn't your argument just classic Hegelian relativism? You seem to be saying that right and wrong are contingent on the context.

      So it might be morally right to slit the throats of human beings in sacrifice to a god if you are in the context of Aztec Mexico prior to the Spanish conquest, but morally abhorrent afterwards?

      I guess you are saying "Quod veritas est?" "What is truth? Is my truth the same as yours"

      Let's see, who said that? -- oh yeah -- Pontius Pilate.


Comments invited, however anonymous commentors had better deal directly with the issues raised and avoid ad hominem drivel. As for Teachers' Union seminar writers -- forget about it.