WashPost Publishes Op-ed: 'Sex Between Students and Teachers Should Not Be a Crime'

Anyone who's argued The Washington Post is conservative based on its editorial pages is going to look silly today. Saturday's paper featured an op-ed with the online title "Sex between students and teachers should not be a crime." In the paper, it's watered down to "Sex happens, even in school."

The liberal offender is Betsy Karasik, a lawyer-turned-painter.  For pure mythology, nothing beats this: "I’ve been a 14-year-old girl, and so have all of my female friends. When it comes to having sex on the brain, teenage boys got nothin’ on us." How does that excuse 30-year-old men preying on 14-year-old girls? Like a good liberal, Karasik laments that criminalizing this behavior fails to "advance" a "much-needed dialogue" about sex:

As protesters decry the leniency of [Montana teacher Stacey Dean] Rambold’s sentence — he will spend 30 days in prison after pleading guilty to raping 14-year-old Cherice Morales, who committed suicide at age 16 — I find myself troubled for the opposite reason. I don’t believe that all sexual conduct between underage students and teachers should necessarily be classified as rape, and I believe that absent extenuating circumstances, consensual sexual activity between teachers and students should not be criminalized. While I am not defending Judge G. Todd Baugh’s comments about Morales being “as much in control of the situation” — for which he has appropriately apologized — tarring and feathering him for attempting to articulate the context that informed his sentence will not advance this much-needed dialogue...

The point is that there is a vast and extremely nuanced continuum of sexual interactions involving teachers and students, ranging from flirtation to mutual lust to harassment to predatory behavior. Painting all of these behaviors with the same brush sends a damaging message to students and sets the stage for hypocrisy and distortion of the truth. Many teenagers are, biologically speaking, sexually mature. Pretending that this kind of thing won’t happen if we simply punish it severely enough is delusional. If anything, to return to Louis C.K., the indiscriminate criminalization of such situations may deter students struggling with sexual issues from seeking advice from a parent or counselor.

If religious leaders and heads of state can’t keep their pants on, with all they have to lose, why does society expect that members of other professions can be coerced into meeting this standard?

Karasik says a teacher should be suspended for sex with students, but once you've championed a "vast and extremely nuanced continuum of sexual interactions," how long before punishment gives way to tolerance of most of the "continuum"?

This is one of those editorials that make the reader question who on Earth at The Washington Post wants their daughters to be free to "experiment" with middle-aged teachers over the lunch break in a parked car?

Outraged readers should contact Doug Feaver, the Post "reader representative," at readers@washpost.com.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis