Features — 08 May 2019
Muffles’ decision has implications

Over the Easter holidays I had a discussion with my parents’ youngest son, who lives in the United States, about the Muffles College decision to resist the reinstatement of the female teacher whose nude pictures (we don’t know the details) had been exposed to public viewing by a man she was once friendly with. I think all Belize is on page that she was terribly violated, and that the man who did it is guilty of a vicious crime. We don’t know that most Belizeans are in agreement with her reinstatement.

I won’t say my discussion with my brother was complete, but he didn’t say that he disagreed with the decision that she be reinstated and asked if we have hangups about nudity in Belize. The USA, and they took it from Europe, is quite progressive, they would say. My brother said that we are living in a different time, very different from the one he and I grew up in.

When I was growing up I was aware of one or two promiscuous youth, but we were largely kept in check by our church, our parents, and little exposure. I knew a boy who grew up near to a brothel. He knew lots of things. I think in some countries they very wisely have “red light districts.” That’s so that boys don’t grow up next to brothels.

The things our young people are exposed to these days, they must have weak libidos why all the girls don’t have babies and all the boys aren’t being sued for maintenance. Oh, I forgot about the contraceptives. I guess if they did a study they would find that our young people are very, active. They should be. Really, only weak libidos can save them.

The decision to give the lady her job back came from the lawyers, and the Teaching Services Commission (TSC), and the Ministry of Education. I believe that Ms. Lisa Shoman and Ms. Audrey Matura spoke up from the law profession, and we saw Ms. Elena Smith, BNTU president, speaking on the TSC decision, and Ms. Carol Babb from the Ministry of Education—all declaring that Muffles College let the teacher get her job back.

I have to believe that parents (the PTA) are supportive of the Muffles College decision to resist the order from the TSC and the government. There are reports that when the teacher showed up at school after Easter, the principal of the school, a lady, did something to embarrass her.

We really should be discussing this case. Some might say that would be further embarrassment for the teacher, but if a nude picture of her is in the public domain, all of us who want to see it can access it. We are living in a new world. Maybe there is nothing to a nude picture of a teacher before the eyes of her students.

There are reasons why in schools that are run by nuns, the girls dress to look like toothpaste — skirts ending just above the knees, no cleavage exposed by female teachers and big girls, no make-up, no fancy hair-dos, no perfume. That’s because they know that if they relax the dress code boys will do even worse in school. At least somebody understands that males are easily distracted.

The decision at Muffles has implications. There’s a thing called precedent. The teacher in the case at Muffles is quite likely embarrassed by whatever exposure there was of her body, but you can bet that there are female teachers who know dehn body gud¯and who can prove that nude pics in the public domain were put there by scorned lovers?

We really have to discuss these things. The almighty law should not be allowed to run over the people’s views on things. We thought that when we the people spoke our voice was from God.

We have heard the almighty law say that it is better for 100 murderers to go free than for one innocent man to go to the gallows. Good, life is too precious, sacred, for us to take an innocent life, so we changed the penalty to life imprisonment. So what, one hundred murderers are still going free.

We have heard the Attorney General say that it is better for a thousand Belizeans to get disenfranchised than for one illegal person to sneak in. Wait, Julius Espat would want to ask him where he was in 2012! Really, why do true-born Belizeans with all the affidavits in their village or town or city have to suffer because of an illegal? And how come the AG doesn’t know that English is not the first language of many Belizeans? How come he doesn’t understand that only a mentally challenged person would give Peten as their birthplace when they are applying for Belizean citizenship, or a voter’s card?

Brother, some things get lost in the translation. Give those thousand true-born Belizeans their rights, and for those questionable seventeen Belizeans, get a sober, compassionate Belizean to interview them and review their documents/sponsors.

I have said that I believe that we need to discuss things a lot more. That was a topic in one of the first columns I wrote fifteen or so years ago when I got a space in the Amandala. Belize talks down too much. I tell people: If the PM says he has a bit of advice for me, and the man sweeping the streets says he has advice for me, I will give them equal ear. Nobody owns wisdom.

I gave you my suggestion: give the lady a nice financial package, and give her a job to teach adults or work in the ministry. Yes, the lady was victimized, and the entire world should understand her pain.

We are not alone in this world. There’s a case that is similar to ours that I saw on the Yahoo page. The teacher, a woman, and innocent (her boyfriend exposed her pics), was told by her school that they had to let her go because she could no longer be a role model to children.

We continue our discussion with this story, “School allegedly claims private photo made teacher a poor role model for students”, by Conrad Duncan on www.independent.co.uk. Duncan said the teacher is suing the school for $3 million. The teacher said the topless selfie was sent to a teacher she was dating, and she didn’t know how a student got it.

Her attorney, Mr. John Ray, said she was excoriated and fired “because her breasts were displayed,” and that “would never have happened to a male teacher.” Ouch, gender discrimination was brought into the discussion here.

The teacher asks: “What is wrong with my image? It’s my breasts. It’s my chest. It’s my body. It’s something that should be celebrated.” The lawyer said: “When you look at [the picture], and compare it with a man’s picture, there’s no problem. The only distinction is that her nipples can suckle children, and his can’t.”

Somebody will have to explain some facts of life to this pair. As far as I know, nobody cares about the chests of little boys and little girls. Then there is a profound change in ONE of them. One continues as usual, but ONE changes. I will tell you that a man who says he doesn’t notice the change has no physical interest in the other sex or no interest in the truth. No one has to tell some of us that it is time to begin keeping a respectful distance.

I agree with the teacher about her lawsuit, though. She said that she hoped “her lawsuit would send a message to girls in the school who have had ‘their photos airdropped all over the high school and sent all over’ that they shouldn’t roll over when their ‘picture gets exposed without (their) permission or consent.’”

The teacher pointed out that she had worked hard to become a teacher and she loved teaching her students. She should be compensated.

In the realm of discussion, we shouldn’t fear hearing what others have to say, if they are respectful. The following is a little tough, but I don’t think it is too harsh. Jack Marshall, in a commentary titled, “Naked Teacher Principle, The Selfie Variation”, on Ethicsalarms.com, writes:

“Now, from Long Island comes the saga of a middle school teacher—in  NTP (Naked Teacher Principle) scenarios, they are the worst kind—who was fired last week when an old topless selfie that she sent to a former boyfriend ended up in the hands of a student.

“Lauren Miranda, the 25-year-old Bellport Middle School math teacher, is suing, claiming that she was wrongfully dismissed for not being a proper school role model.

“Miranda said the image was obtained without her consent–I’ll buy that—and that there was nothing ‘inherently offensive’ about the image anyway. The issue isn’t whether in the abstract a naked female form is offensive, but whether a female teacher’s early adolescent students should think of their teacher as a sex object.

“‘It’s pure,’ Miranda said of her bare-breasted selfie. Oh! If that’s true, why don’t you use it as your official photo on the school website?”

The article said that Miranda and her lawyer “contend that a male teacher would not have been subjected to the same treatment in similar circumstances. Well, there’s precedent on that, and they are just flat-out wrong. They may recall, or should, that in their very own state, a rising national legislator lost his job for sending a crotch-shot selfie to an object of his desire. Elected officials are also supposed to be role models, or should I say, ‘role models.’”

The article’s writer further said, “I don’t know what kind of contract she signed, and I don’t know how Long Island’s school labor rules work. What I know is that it isn’t that difficult, if one is in a position that involves being thought of by kids in one’s charge as a dignified, responsible adult that parents can reasonably feel is trustworthy, to avoid this problem: don’t send nude selfies.”

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Deshawn Swasey

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