Today we learned that Nick Goddard, a lecturer in chemical engineering at the University of Manchester, has quit his job of 25 years. This follows the revelation that Goddard had appeared in porn films; he had been outed by students who recognised him.
If any story highlights the hypocrisy over pornography in Britain, it’s this one. As Goddard himself pointed out: “There is such hypocrisy with people watching porn then complaining about those who act in it”.
What Goddard did was legal; it didn’t affect his ability to teach chemical engineering; and if there is a clause in his contract preventing such behaviour, I’d love to see it.
In rational terms, it is impossible to explain why Goddard should have had to resign. The real charge against him is as follows: he had sex. But that accusation could probably be levelled at 99% of the University of Manchester’s staff. The only significant difference between Goddard and the rest is that there exists proof of his sexual activities, and not of everyone else’s. He allowed his carnal behaviour to be recorded, they didn’t. Therefore, Goddard’s real crime is one of honesty; or perhaps failing to acknowledge that sex is basically shameful.
It’s disappointing that Goddard resigned (presumably, not voluntarily); but not surprising. Academia has become increasingly hostile to free expression of any form that might offend anyone. And yes, there might, in theory, exist a student so profoundly delicate that Goddard’s very presence on campus might reduce him or her to screaming hysteria. But by tailoring our society to the most fragile, we end up suppressing liberty in many forms. Goddard’s treatment is a sign of the censorious times we live in. Now that everybody (or at least, privileged university students) require “safe spaces”, then individual liberty must take a back seat.