An intern is not fair game
Source Eric A. Ebel
Date 99/05/01/22:08

/* Written 2:49 PM Aug 21, 1998 by in igc:labr.all */
/* ---------- "dsanet: An intern is not fair game" ---------- */

---------- Forwarded message ----------

Date: Fri, 21 Aug 1998 02:29:42 -0400
From: "Eric A. Ebel"

> We have to wash our hands of Clinton now. The media has not focused on the
> intern issue, but the fact is Clinton was in the position of mentor to a
> trainee, which is even more than just a supervisory relationship. She was
> under his protection. Politicians are correctly beginning to focus on this
> aspect.

Actually, I doubt that the President would have the time to function as
a "mentor" to a bunch of interns in any but the most abstract sense.
But the main point is that disproportions in power or status between
adults who engage in consensual sexual activity should generally not be
the basis for legal consequences. Contrary to popular belief, it's not
illegal for employers to sleep with employees or supervisors with
subordinates-- until the power starts to be actually misused-- nor
should it be. The problem is that a lot of employers have overreacted
by trying to ban all workplace relationships, leaving people thinking
that there is a legal requirement.

There are a few relationships where we don't tolerate any kind of sexual
activity-- doctor or therapist and patient, teacher and student-- but
these are and should be exceptions. Generally, we should take the
position that adults are responsible for their own decisions and
mistakes. Monica was a 21-year-old college graduate; she had been
"legal" for maybe five years (depending on the age of consent in
California), able to vote and sign contracts for three, and even able to
buy alcohol legally. And the category of "trainee" can include women in
their thirties. Do we really want to say that they belong in the same
category as children, subject to special protections because we don't
think they can make intelligent decisions?

Personally, I hope we come out of this with an understanding that it is
possible to "disapprove" of people's sexual behavior while still
regarding it as none of our affair and that we ought not try to stop or
punish it. I don't "approve" of Bill cheating on Hillary. I don't
"approve" of celebrities using their position as an opportunity to have
their way with "groupies"-- a certain Mr. W. Chamberlain comes
immediately to mind. There are a lot of sexual situations I consider
"wrong," and even more I call "stupid." (Yesterday's media reports say
that Monica thought she had a future with Bill.) But as long as the
people are adults and the the sex is uncoerced, it's really nobody's
business but the participants and their immediate circle.

We have struggled long and hard to establish that principle, and with
luck, this nasty little affair may help cement it.

In Solidarity,


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