I should have included these with original post, but the photo so nauseated me that I was barely capable of critical thought. I’m still nauseated, but better. So now I offer these ten question and thoughts:
1. Will this photo and its implication be used by cultural to excuse student-teacher sexual liaisons? They are grotesquely unethical when minors are involved, but professionally reprehensible even when the loving couple are college professor and student.
2. I presume it will. As I noted in the original post, this photo is a breeding ground for rationalizations, “No harm, no foul” among them, and of course, “It all worked out for the best.” This is like showing the modern China that arose out of Mao’s slaughter of millions with the face of the Great Leader superimposed over it all. It worked out so well! How can anyone argue with that?
3. Every time a grossly wrongful act creates some unanticipated good, consequentialism runs amuck. If Mary Kay and Rape Victim Vili had produced children who had arms growing out of their mouths or who were drug-addicts and cat-burners, the same people who look at the photo now and say “Awww!” would be pointing and crowing, “See?”
4. The proper comparison is a family created through incest. That taboo is so powerful still that a similar photo of Mom, Dad/Grandad and lovely Daughter–No, Sister! No, Daughter! No, Sister! (Sorry, I was having a “Chinatown” flashback) would not garner the kind of positive reaction too many are having to the Happy Fualaau.
5. What is a responsible media response to the 10 year anniversary of a marriage created by betrayal and rape? I would argue that it isn’t newsworthy, and a story that it is irresponsible to glamorize with special media focus, but I won’t advocate censorship. However, a responsible news media would not present the story in a generous or benign light. That is not a rejection of objectivity. Stipulated: the news media is not objective enough, but child rape by teachers is objectively wrong. If the news coverage doesn’t bolster that cultural standard, or worse, undermines it, that is unethical.
6. Is it fair for the children of the marriage to suffer because of it? In one respect, I would argue that it is. If either of the young women decide to pursue their mother’s previous occupation, that of an elementary school teacher, any school employing them would have to operate from a presumption that they are a risk to sexually molest their students. The school would be obligated to fully inform any parent whose child would be attending the school. The school would have to monitor their conduct carefully. Any school would be justified in refusing to hire them based solely on their family, which is a living, breathing endorsement of teacher-student seduction and rape. If it were my decision, I would refuse, no matter how glowing their record and recommendations. If I were a parent with a child at the school, I would pull him out. I would also make certain every parent in the community knew. For these teachers would be likely to have a strong belief that student-teacher sexual relations can be desirable, as long as they “really love each other.”
7. The daughters of Mary Kay and Villi would also be ethically obligated to disclose their background. If they did not, that would be cause for dismissal. Their employers and their potential students’ parents have a right to know. Legally? I have no idea. But they have that right.
8. I can see how this position might be seen as contradictory to my posts about the persecution of registered sex offenders. In one, I wrote,
“This is a challenge for our society, culture, political system and values. Do we have the will and integrity to oppose and stop in its tracks an organized, rapidly-spreading effort to demonize fellow citizens because of their membership in a group, rather than based on their character and conduct?”
This is obviously an emotional topic for many, and I am somewhat surprised that there have not been any comments in defense of the increasingly restrictive limits placed on the Constitutional rights of sex offenders to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness….perhaps because there is no defense.
9. I haven’t changed or reconsidered either position. Registered sex offenders, however, know that their previous conduct is wrong. They have paid society’s price, in many cases over-paid. I also hold that guilt by association is often unfair, and always a slippery slope. Should one’s family origins be a lifetime impediment to success, or does everyone have the right to be judged as an individual rather than as a member of a suspect group? The ethical answer is the latter, and like all ethical principles, it has outliers and exceptions. This is one of them.
10. No: the daughters of Mary Kay Letourneau Fualaau and Vili Fualaau who posed in that happy photo should not cannot be considered trustworthy to teach children.