Be careful when you email a link

Law Professor Lisa T. McElroy
Law Professor Lisa T. McElroy

Lisa T. McElroy, a 50-year old respected law professor at Drexel University, sent an email to her law students under the heading of “great article on writing briefs.”

The link, however, took students to a pornographic video on the use of anal beads in sexual pleasure.  McElroy mistakenly sent the wrong link.

McElroy admitted the mistake, Drexel investigated and cleared her of any wrongdoing under the school’s sexual harassment policy.

Of course, word on what happened went viral on the Internet.

“Unsurprisingly, some students spread word of the incident through social media and anonymous e-mails to the media. Everyone was talking about me. Everyone was speculating about whether I watched porn, or used sex toys, or liked kinky sex. Some people were calling for my job and law license,” McElroy writes in The Washington Post.

McElroy is a vivacious blonde who once appeared as a contestant on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”  More important is her role as a damn good law professor with a lot of accolades.

As she points out in her piece in the Post, she incident caused her problems and put a huge dent in her dignity.

She writes:

Still, no one questioned the dignity of those who forwarded the unintended post. No one asked why, if they found it so offensive, students opened the link, with its unmistakable Web address, and watched the video long enough to know what it contained.

No one publicly questioned the dignity of the so-called journalists who wrote salacious stories, broadcast them, waited outside my office to interview my students, called my unpublished cellphone number. And no one questioned the dignity of the intended audience. Tabloid journalists ran with this story because they knew they would get page views. How would they know that? Because they know their readers and viewers — and they know that scandal, sex and shame are irresistible to those who devour their posts.

The video, while disgusting to some, is still legal under the law. It was received by law students who were over 18 and are adults. Some of the students may have found the link both entertaining and educational.

Pornography, Harvard professor and song satirist Tom Lehrer once sang, is in the eye of the beholder.

All books can be indecent books
Though recent books are bolder,
For filth (I’m glad to say) is in
The mind of the beholder.
When correctly viewed,
Everything is lewd.
(I could tell you things about Peter Pan,
And the Wizard of Oz, there’s a dirty old man!)

Lisa McElroy still has her job at Drexel University and she should.  She will be more careful in the future about links in emails sent to students but it’s a safe bet that some of those students have received, and watched, much worse (or better depending on your point of view).

In the overall scheme of things, what happened at Drexel is no big deal, except for those who work overtime to find fault in trivial matters.

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