Sex Column Controversy at Montana: Law Professor Wants it Stopped!

Kristen Juras, a law professor at the University of Montana, is currently on a sexual witch hunt so ludicrous it pains me to think she might have tenure.  Specifically, Juras is out to stop The Kaimin student newspaper from publishing a sex column begun this semester, the paper’s first since the column trend started in the late-1990s.

According to a report in the Kaimin (via UWIRE), Juras has asked the paper’s editors to cease publishing the column.   As she stated, wait for it: “It’s embarrassingly unprofessional. It affects my reputation as a member of the faculty.” (No, I think you’re affecting your reputation just fine on your own.)

She also believes the sex columnist position should be limited to someone with a background in sexology or other formal sexual expertise.  She plans to approach the university’s publications board to demand a stricter policy be put in place to this end- and depending on its response she will then seek out the board of regents and even the Montana state legislature (and then the White House, UN, and the ICC?).

The problem with her argument: The feature is NOT labeled as an advice column.  It runs in the OPINIONS section.  And the writer, UM senior Bess Davis, has never claimed sexpert-status, mentioning in her debut piece that she’s simply a regular student who has “been at this [sex] for awhile now.” As Davis wrote, “I like sex. I like having it, talking about it, thinking about it, and now I’m writing about it.”

Think of the professor’s argument with other topics: Should a student who is not a political expert or presidential historian be banned from publishing opinions about Obama?  Should a student who has no environmental science background be restricted from writing about worshiping Al Gore and saving the Earth?  And otherwise, let’s be honest: Sex is NOT like most other subjects.  It’s like driving- most of us do it; most of us learn by doing it; and most of us are entitled to share our opinions on it without needing to sport a related academic degree.

The professor’s last argument is the scariest: According to her, because the newspaper receives some funding from university fees, it should be used primarily for educational purposes- and apparently only run content that professors like her are willing to approve.  (God help us all if her specialty is media law or if she teaches courses in any way connected to free press).  Check out the Kaimin piece to see how Student Press Law Center attorney advocate and all-around-great-guy Adam Goldstein shoots her argument down.

Finally, her whole campaign makes me laugh.  When will the powers-that-be learn: Protesting something publicly and vociferously DRAWS MORE ATTENTION TO THE OBJECT OF YOUR IRE.  In this respect, Juras is giving the column exactly what it deserves: nationwide/blogosphere publicity, related debates about its purpose/significance in the student press, and subsequent dialogues about the sexual issues it has raised.  As one sex columnist wrote to her biggest detractors a few years back, “Thanks for the controversy.” :-)

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  1. […] award. The paper’s pissing off of the football coach comes only months after it similarly riled up a wacko faculty member at the school for publishing its first sex column in its roughly 110…. Quality journalism, oh the agony!  To the paper’s editor, Allison Maier, keep up the fight! […]