Ms. Price told The Chronicle she believes the administration is punishing her because she has spoken out about things on the campus, including what she describes as a male-only poker club that includes administrators and faculty members."Men in the poker club gain more power, privileges, and income than others on the campus, and protection from student charges," she said. "Since I started speaking out about this poker club, I have been bullied and harassed."
This seems like a blatant case of sexual discrimination, however The Chronicle focused on her dismissal and suggested censorship with the misleading headline "Tenured Professor Is Placed on Leave After Showing a Film About Pornography." A blog post by another professor noted the misleading headline, but ignored the discrimination accusation, instead worrying about the lack of due process (a valid concern).
Meanwhile, writer Gail Dines, author of the anti-pornography book Pornland: How Porn has Hijacked our Sexuality (which I criticized in an earlier posting), has written that this incident shows that universities are only interested in supporting pornography, and claims that Dr. Price is being punished for daring to criticize porn.
Dines is making the common mistake of confusing studying with enjoying. As some one who has studied pornography at university, I often explain that simply because you study something does not mean that you support it. If I had written university papers on toxic waste, people would not assume I was hoping to live in a sewer. And Dines is assuming the pornography was the cause of the suspension, because it suits her goal of promoting her book. Dines writes, appropriately, that porn is big business, but fails to note that there is also money in opposing porn.
But these errors are minor, compared with overlooking the accusation of discrimination. For all the progress in gender equality that has been made, the old boys club is still very much in evidence at many institutions. That's not as interesting a story as writing that a film may have upset some students and/or the porn industry, but it is a much more important one.