March 29, 2002


Ben Domenech alerts us to an essay he wrote in regard to pedophilia and academia,The Fraternity of Hollow Men (Ben Domenech, Boundless), specifically about the different reactions to Michael Bellesiles's fabrications in Arming America and to admissions of child molestation by Antonio Lasaga, a professor of geophysics at Yale. Please read the whole thing, but here's an excerpt :

[E]ven as the academy has vilified Bellesiles en masse for his falsehoods, it has risen in defense of another colleague, Professor Antonio Lasaga.

Unlike Bellesiles, Lasaga does not dispute his crimes. He has admitted to sexually abusing and molesting a young boy from the age of 7 to 13. He has admitted to videotaping the abuse, and amassing an immense collection of child pornography. He has admitted to meeting his victim through a New Haven school-mentoring program.

Instead of condemnation and rebuke, Lasaga has received enormous amounts of sympathy from the academic community. Indeed, even after Lasaga pled guilty in a federal court to the crimes of which he was accused, more than nine months passed before Yale decided to revoke his tenure. During his sentencing hearing, colleague after colleague argued for leniency.

'[Lasaga] is in his most productive years,' argued Pennsylvania State University Professor Hubert Barnes, former head of the prestigious Geochemistry Society. 'When you penalize Tony for his indiscretions, you also penalize society.'

'I don't believe Tony had any sexual interest in boys,' said Princeton Professor Hiroshi Ohmoto, suggesting that the abuse was merely a misunderstanding.

'All of us in science are expendable, but the loss of the most capable are felt the most strongly,' said Prof. Heinrich Holland, who has taught at Harvard and Princeton. Holland suggested that Lasaga be punished with no more than a six-year sentence, or some form of counseling. His suggestion was not accepted, and Judge Roland Fasano sentenced the professor to 20 years in prison.

Lasaga's defenders have pointed out that no one has impeached Lasaga's academic work, either in his role an associate editor of the American Journal of Science and editor in chief of Chemical Geology, or as the author of several important books on geophysics and kinetic theory. Frank Podosek, the editor of the academic journal of the Geochemical Society, has tried to prevent Lasaga from publishing more work, but has been overruled by his board. From the perspective of the academy, Lasaga's personal failings are apparently a matter for the man to deal with in his own private way, and in no way prevent him from living as a respected member of the scientific community. Moral outrage does not outweigh professional respect, and thus Lasaga's sins are washed away by his enlightened reason.

"Indiscretions"? "Misunderstanding"? Calling the dean's wife a fat sow at a cocktail party is indiscrete; raping a child is a heinous crime. Or was...

I recall the essay of several years ago, Pedophilia Chic (Mary Eberstadt, June 17, 1996, Weekly Standard) which argued that the sexualization of children was becoming an accepted part of the culture. She followed up several years later with "Pedophilia Chic" Reconsidered : The taboo against sex with children continues to erode. (Mary Eberstadt, January 8, 2001, Weekly Standard) Ms Eberstadt's assertions were predictably dismissed out of hand as the lunatic ravings of a rightwing sexual bigot. Who today--when even priests are buggering little boys and Woody Allen, who married his step-daughter, gets a standing ovation at the Academy Awards--would so cavalierly dismiss her concerns or Mr. Domenech's?

NB : Here's the text of the T. S. Eliot poem that Mr. Domenech derived his title from; it's one of my favorites.


Mistah Kurtz-he dead.
A penny for the Old Guy


We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rat's feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without color,
Paralyzed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other kingdom
Remember us - if at all - not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.


Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death's dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind's singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death's dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer -

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom


This is the dead land
This is the cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they recieve
The supplication of a dead man's hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death's other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.


The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river
Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death's twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.


Here we go 'round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go 'round the prickly pear
At five o'clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom
Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the shadow

Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existance
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom
For Thine is Mchildren continues to erode. (Mary
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 29, 2002 8:51 PM
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