philosophy meta-forum

Cambridge

Jennifer

8 day(s) ago

Heidi, I'm afraid I have to agree with Susan here. When we report these incidents we don't do it for the "education of others who don't yet understand the full scope of the problem." We do it to protect others who may have to interact with the person more than just one evening at Yale. You sat on this story, in which you had first hand knowledge, for 10 years! Maybe others will come forward now or maybe it was an isolated incident, but it was not up to you to judge that it was isolated. You had zero grounds to make that judgment.

Nina

8 day(s) ago

Heidi, I'm just trying to wrap my head around this: "an isolated case related to the alcohol and presumably Heck's complicated relationship with George Boolos"

Are you saying that Heck sexually assaulted you to finish the job that Boolos started? That he felt it was his duty to carry on the tradition?

Or are you saying that he hated Boolos and he thought he could get payback by hooking up with you?

Exactly what the hell are you saying here?

Tyler

8 day(s) ago

Note to myself: Never take any normative statement made by a "philosopher" seriously.

I stopped taking professional ethicists seriously long ago. They defend absurd positions for the sake of politics. Look at Pogge, who built his career on arguing that people from country X have a moral entitlement to the fruits of the labor of people from country Y just because country X has less money. When your theories about right and wrong are ridiculous, who's surprised that your practice is equally messed up?

Tyler

8 day(s) ago

Heidi, I'm just trying to wrap my head around this: "an isolated case related to the alcohol and presumably Heck's complicated relationship with George Boolos"

Are you saying that Heck sexually assaulted you to finish the job that Boolos started? That he felt it was his duty to carry on the tradition?

Or are you saying that he hated Boolos and he thought he could get payback by hooking up with you?

Nina

It's a vague sentence written for literary points.

Hugo

8 day(s) ago

Richard Heck is a practicing Christian. Jesus has already forgiven him for groping you.

Robert

8 day(s) ago

"He said he has no recollection of it, and offered a personal apology when I asked for one."

So much WTF packed into one sentence.

Holly

7 day(s) ago

I'm calling bullshit on this Heidi Lockwood story. She claims that Heck groped her because of his "complicated relationship with George Boolos", but maybe it was her complicated relationship with Boolos that is causing her to project this bullshit onto Heck (who has no memory of it ever happening). Heidi, does Heck, like Boolos, send you secret messages in his logic papers? I'm sorry that you didn't get what you wanted from Boolos, but defaming innocent people is not the way to resolve your inner demons.

Ambrose

7 day(s) ago

I can't imagine being such a pathetic weakling that I would cry all night after being groped by some drunk man that I was escorting back to a hotel. You can't be serious. Is there more to this? I don't get why you'd want to embarrass someone for doing something stupid, and pretty tame, when drunk.

Norberto

7 day(s) ago

Since when is a professor groping a graduate student "pretty tame"?

Diogenes

7 day(s) ago

This thread is the fucking worst. I usually think criticisms of this site are overblown, and it's worthwhile for it to exist, but this shit is giving me pause. What good is any of what happened here? It started with paranoid tree-shaking directed at a big target, then devolved into moronic nebulous claims about feminism, which single instances of accusation or non-accusation are supposed to somehow vindicate or condemn, then an accuser was finally shaken down, a sad drunken incident among middle-aged people who probably have families was recounted, and then hyenas from both sides lambasted the accuser for varying degrees of suboptimal behavior. Even if some here are trolling to hasten the demise of this forum, they are screwing over relatively innocent people in the process.

If the distinctive feature of this forum is that this will be where *anonymous* and fully unconstrained moralizing, scapegoating, and witch hunting goes down, then it's not worth it. Other sites do more than enough of that. Some of you people do not deserve freedom.

Gregor

7 day(s) ago

Seriously Diogenes? Heidi Lockwood shows up and does her standard thing of making defamatory comments about innocent people and you want to blame this forum? And more than that you want to blame this forum because "hyenas from both sides lambasted the accuser for varying degrees of suboptimal behavior", or in other worlds the number one troll of the profession drops her load into this forum and presumably attracts people who would otherwise never be here and they judge her (some positively and some negatively) and you blame this forum? The forum can suck at times, I give you that, but blaming it for The Heidi Lockwood Experience is effed up.

Diogenes

7 day(s) ago

Notice I refrained from the usual dance of praising the accuser. One of the pathetic things about this thread is that people in it practically begged Heidi Lockwood to show up and dish out the dirt. And that it was Heidi Lockwood doesn't make what came next any better.

Edvard

7 day(s) ago

Heidi, if you are Heidi, let me get this straight. You were a graduate student, and hence an adult. A member of the profession who was not your supervisor, not on your committee, and not even a member of your department made a pass at you (you claim) after a night of drinking. You turned him down. That was the end of it. And you call this 'harassment', even though it was clearly not a sustained pattern and even though he had no supervisory power of you and you had no reason to think, or to think that he thought, that your turning him down would lead to his taking it out on you.

You hold that he ought not to have done that. Maybe you're right. But then you say that you forgive him, but nonetheless you have just told the story about him, online, using his name, in a public forum for all the world to see, forever. This is way worse than spreading a story about him to a few of your close friends and identifying him. This is likely to have a horrible effect on his career and personal life.

Why would you do that? If you think he's a danger to others somehow, then why would you have waited a decade? If you don't think he is, why tell this embarrassing story about him at all?

He was drunk after a night out with you and made a pass at you, and backed off when you said no. You, while sober, aired this detail about his private life on the internet.

Which is worse? Do you think his action was?

The most charitable reading of this is that it's a troll and not Heidi Lockwood at all.

Julia

7 day(s) ago

Perhaps because earlier in the thread she was accused of selectively withholding the details for political reasons?

Also, what's with the implication that there is no such thing as one-off harassment? What planet do you come from? Grabbing a woman's breasts without her consent is harassment, end of story.

Linji

7 day(s) ago

Friendly reminder that groping is not "making a pass" at someone. It is in fact a crime. It is criminal to grope people. But I am so glad that we are all far more concerned about the effects that this have on Heck than the effects that it has had on Lockwood. This discipline is disgusting.

Alain

7 day(s) ago

Thank you Linji, for stating what should be obvious. Imagine how distressing it must have been for Heidi to be sexually assaulted after what she went through already. People want to complain about the timing of her going public with this, but the timing is for her to decide, not for us. I hope we can all praise her bravery now, support her and help her heal.

Edvard

7 day(s) ago

Julia, she (if it is Heidi) could easily have told the story without mentioning names. Mentioning the name is crass, hurtful and uncalled-for.

It would make sense to talk of one-off harassment in some cases. If a supervisor were to say to a graduate student, "I've been lusting after you and want you, and you will never make it in this world if you don't give in to me, but I'll never say this again", that seems to be harassment even if it happens just once. The reason is that it would put the graduate student in a constant position of stress, thinking that he or she would have to come across at some point or else risk losing everything. It also makes sense to talk of ongoing sexual harassment, I think, by someone who doesn't have institutional power over one. For instance, A follows B around for an hour every day, saying to B 'I want to be with you', even after B has told A clearly that he or she isn't interested. What I don't think makes much sense is referring to a single attempt to get someone to go to bed with one as sexual harassment. In the story, it was an unwanted sexual overture, but it's not clear why it should be termed harassment, given that these were two people from different departments.

You say "Grabbing a woman's breasts without her consent is harassment, end of story." That doesn't sound right. In many cases, it would be wrong, even if not sexual harassment. If a stranger goes up to a random woman on the street and grabs her breasts out of the blue, that's sexual assault (though I'm not sure 'harassment' would be a good word for it). But in other contexts, like between two lovers, someone grabbing the other's breasts without explicit consent at that moment would not be harassment or assault, in any reasonable understanding of the word.

In the case in the story we've just been told, the two people are apparently not in a relationship. As the person claiming to be Heidi Lockwood tells it, she was not pursuing anything with the other person, and he got very affectionate in the middle of a drunken conversation and, among other things, grabbed her breasts. These things happen when people are fumbling around, drunk. I'm a heterosexual man and I've had gay people grope at me while they were drunk, and I've also had women at nightclubs grab at me when they were drunk and I did nothing to provoke it. These were unwelcome actions, but I think it might be a little much to call it 'assault' and I certainly wouldn't call it 'harassment'.

These are also the kinds of things that are hard to judge because I'm pretty sure the man involved would give us a quite different account, especially ten years after the fact when memories are so unreliable. Perhaps he would tell us that, in fact, he was having a shared affectionate moment with the woman and then he wanted to go farther than she did and she stopped him. That wouldn't be assault or harassment. Or maybe he erroneously thought he was sharing such a moment with her but in fact she wasn't into it at all the whole time, and he was just really bad at reading the signals when he was intoxicated. It would be right for him to apologize to her if that was the case, and learn to be better at picking up when people are not interested. Or maybe she was interested at first but changed her mind. Or, maybe she really was just sitting there, having a clearly non-sexual and non-intimate conversation with him, when out of the blue and for no reason and without warning he decided to try to get it on with her and grabbed her, including touching her breasts, until she told him that she wasn't into it and he backed off. Even that wouldn't be the same thing as going up to a random stranger and copping a free feel, but it's very socially awkward and the kind of thing he should really apologize for. But coming on to someone who turns out to not be really that into you after you drunkenly fail to discern that she's given you no sign that she'd be amenable to your advances, however awkward and undesirable and embarrassing for both parties, isn't the same thing as harassing someone.

Allan

7 day(s) ago

Good lord people

Linji

7 day(s) ago

Edvard, you are illustrating the arrogance of philosophers. The law has made the decision for us about how we are to class what happened to Lockwood. The law says that what Lockwood alleges happened would be what in most states is called "sexual battery," and it is usually at minimum a criminal misdemeanor.

It's worth noting that Lockwood was married at the time, which should give more credence to Lockwood's version on events, on which Heck could not possibly have been confused about Lockwood's intentions.

The law is clear about what happened here, whether or not a bunch of preening male philosophers on the metaforum think that it was "sufficiently bad" to warrant Lockwood publicly outting Heck.

You know what's also crass, hurtful, and uncalled for? When your senior drunk colleague starts groping you.

Allan

7 day(s) ago

The real hypocrisy here is from metabros, whining every day for years about serial student fucker Peter Ludlow, while showing no interest in mistreatment Lockwood received at MIT as a result of Boolos's wandering hands.

Simon

7 day(s) ago

Linji, do you think that it's morally worse to do what the man in the story did than to do what the woman who claims to be Heidi did? Why do you think that, if you do?

Alain, you seem to be going off a familiar script from the mass media. But only an idiot would think she is 'brave' for calling out someone online and making him the butt of jokes and rumors and threatening his livelihood. What risk does anyone run by doing this? Zero. Everyone loves people who denounce others for alleged harassment these days. They can't get enough of them. Everyone rallies to the side of the accuser no matter what, even if the accuser has no evidence. What's 'brave' about that? And why do you think she needs to 'heal'? She had a conversation with a drunk guy ten years ago. The guy wasn't her supervisor or even in her department. He got affectionate with her and touched her, and then she told him to stop, and he did when he realized that she wasn't interested. Ten years ago. And you think she needs to 'heal' today? Seriously?

Also, you seem to assume that the story was true merely because someone claiming to be someone you've heard of (you have no idea who it is really) claims to be Heidi Lockwood, and then claims to have had this experience with someone else. You haven't even heard his side of the story, you don't know which side of the story is right, and you don't even know whether the person really is even Heidi Lockwood, but you've already made your decision that the guy is guilty of the worst thing her words imply. You have thereby completely abandoned even the thinnest veneer of fair-mindedness and outed yourself (anonymously) as an out-of-control degenerate who doesn't care about the truth anymore. I hope for the sake of philosophy that you aren't a part of the profession.

Simon

7 day(s) ago

Linji, he wasn't her colleague. He was from a different department.

Bradley

7 day(s) ago

Blaming a victim for not coming forward earlier strikes me as just another form of victim-blaming. And Edvard: seriously? You really think it's okay for people to get "very affectionate in the middle of a drunken conversation, and, among other things, [grab private parts]" That's absolutely not okay in my book -- and, for that matter, in every campus training I've been to on sexual assault and consent. Sure, that was okay in the 1960s. But last time I checked, we're in the 21st century.

Linji

7 day(s) ago

I regularly call fellow professional philosophers my colleagues, even if they are at different departments. That's pretty standard talk. But actually, Lockwood was a student at the time and Heck a senior professor, which means that they weren't actually colleagued but actually stood in a hierarchical relationship. While Heck wasn't directly supervising Lockwood, you are an idiot if you think that senior professors in one's field don't still hold a lot of power over grad student at other institutions.

If Lockwood's allegations are correct, yes, I think what Heck did is worse.

Linji

7 day(s) ago

Bradley, I think what this thread shows is that a lot of professional philosophers do not understand what groping is and why it is bad and, in fact, might think that groping a professional colleague is acceptable conduct.

Monique

7 day(s) ago

BACK OFF OF LOCKWOOD. SHE IS THE ONE GOOD THING ABOUT PHILOSOPHY RIGHT NOW. YOU ALL ARE COWARDS.

Monique

7 day(s) ago

COWARDS, I SAY!

Ernesto

7 day(s) ago

The victim-blaming here is shocking. How dare people judge how, or if, someone who experiences any form of assault chooses to report? That's literally a huge part of why people don't come forward, because of judgment. And for god's sake, a professor drunkenly groping a graduate student obviously isn't okay, no matter when it happened.

Aren't you people supposed to be smart?

Simon

7 day(s) ago

Bradley, I don't think it's okay for people to get very affectionate in the middle of a drunken conversation and grab others' private parts. I think it happens quite often, though, when people are drunk and coming on to each other.

Personally, I don't get involved with anyone else in the profession, since I'm in a committed monogamous relationship with someone outside of it; and when I have come on to people, it wasn't in that sort of way.

I think people who are in the same department and have to work with one another should avoid hooking up where possible (though it's not always possible), and should make a point of making overtures to one another in subtle ways so that things don't get too carried away if one party decides to back out. Otherwise, the workplace/study space can get quite stressful.

It's a different matter when people are from different departments. Institutional rules shouldn't have any jurisdiction on sexual relationships or hookups or come-ons between people who aren't even at the same university, as was the case here. That doesn't mean that no norms apply, though. Norms of law, morallity, and etiquette may apply.

Liinji is trying to make the point here that what the man in the story allegedly did is a crime, treating it as on a par with walking up to a stranger on the street and grabbing her breasts. But that's not a very nuanced understanding. Compare: stealing someone's food is a crime. But suppose I'm in a bar with some drunken people and, when my food arrives, one of the drunks reaches over and helps himself to a handful of my french fries. Is it a crime? Should I call the police and have her arrested and charged with theft?

I think there's a very good case to be made that coming on to someone very strongly (but then backing off when told to stop) is a violation of good etiquette. It's also in the immoral zone, but not as clearly as others might think.

I'm curious: what means do others prefer for coming on to people while drunk? I never come on to people anymore, so I'm out of the game. How is one to make a pass at someone? What are the clear rules that were violated here? I'm not saying there aren't any, I'm just interested to hear why some people think this is so clear-cut that it merits publicly naming the person on the internet, for God's sake, and then talking about the other person 'healing' from it.

And why does anyone think that college rules apply in cases where the other person isn't even at your university? How far do these prohibitions go?

Pyotr

7 day(s) ago

"Mentioning the name is crass, hurtful and uncalled-for."

Heidi didn't mention Heck's name to be crass, she did it to protect the others, and given the response she has received here it was obviously very brave of her to do so. Speaking personally, what Heck did to Heidi given her background with Boolos and MIT was nothing short of monstrous. Personally I would not feel safe anywhere near such a person and I praise Heidi for speaking out so that other members of the profession can protect themselves.

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