Eyes Above The Waves

Robert O'Callahan. Christian. Repatriate Kiwi. Hacker.

Thursday 16 August 2012

A Confession Of Sorts

Reading this LWN article about sexual harassment at conferences led me to another story that was even more compelling and instructive. Read it now or the rest of my post will be unintelligible.

I identified strongly with "Dr Glass" and would have behaved almost exactly the same. But I would have been hiding something, which means Dr Glass might have been too, as far as any observer in the story could know, and I think that adds another layer of implications to the story.

The secret is that I would have been attracted to Luminous Girl, and though I would have successfully suppressed it in my behavior, it would have been hard work. A superhuman observer might notice me glancing at her a little more often than necessary; on a bad day I might even have lustful thoughts about her. This would taint my motives for protecting Luminous from the Awkward Guy: as well as being the right thing to do, it would be fun to live out the fantasy of the Heroic Protector Of The Attractive Woman. Thus, Awkward Guy's mistaken assessment of Luminous as Dr Glass' possession would not be completely off the mark.

Does any of that matter if observable behavior is unchanged? In the Christian worldview, it certainly does, since God looks at the heart. But I think even many materialists would think differently if they knew or suspected what was really going on inside Dr-Glass-as-me.

I would have done one thing very differently from Dr-Glass-of-the-story: I love hiking, but there is no way in the world I would go for a hike alone with an attractive teenage girl I barely know. There is a small possibility of disaster: not rape, but if she made advances, I can't be completely sure I would pass that test --- mainly because I have never faced such a test, and I don't want to. Anyway, the solution is simple: bring a third person along.


I think this is also why the appropriate action may be to go to the course director earlier, not defend Luminous yourself.. knowing you are not perfect and that your judgement isn't objective.. bring someone else's judgement in to balance it out.