Friday, October 8, 2010

ACS - Weekus Horribilis

Some disclosure and preamble:
I am an ex-ACS student, and the just resigned principal was principal for three of the four years I was there.

It's been a fun week for the ACS family. NOT.

First, Dr Ong Teck Chin abruptly resigned after an inquiry was made into "inappropriate behavior". Then, not a week passes and ACJC has to deal with the shocking revelation that two female students had been filmed making hot lesbian love in a school toilet cubicle, and the video had been subsequently circulated among students.

First story here, second story here. And full transcript for second story available here.

I'll deal with each story one by one. 

Dr Ong should be considered innocent until proven guilty of behaving "inappropriately" towards one of his male teachers.

That said, I think we can all imagine what "behaving inappropriately" means. And where there's smoke...well, you know.

If the teacher was a woman, and I don't mean this in a bad way, there might be some who might question the veracity of her claims. But in this case, because the teacher was a man (let's face it, in a sexual harassment case, it's very rare for a man to play the victim card unless he really was a "victim", and even then...), I'm inclined to believe that there's solid evidence of inappropriate behavior.

Although, one does have to ask: If the teacher did have extensive evidence, that's an awful lot of instant messaging, email and voice recordings to have if it was just a case of harassment.

Either Dr Ong had been really persistent (looks like somebody' s still getting it up in their 60s), or there was something going on that just might have been consensual, and then turned sour. But that's just speculation on my part. Too much trashy TV might have something to do with it.

Somehow, all this just reminds me of Lord Browne and his boy toy. Or Ted Haggard. Or any number of other Christian leaders who have fallen by the wayside.

I am an alum of ACS, and I should properly be shocked, upset or outraged.

But I feel none of those things.

I'm actually amused. A little tickled. Oh, what the hell, I'm experiencing paroxysms of schadenfreude-laced pleasure. I'm a bad, bad person, I know. =)

The thing is, one of the indelible memories I have of my time in ACS was getting railed at every single Monday morning during chapel period. Far from being healing and uplifting, it was an almost toxic experience.

If it wasn't on the sins of having lustful thoughts, it was the evils of "satanic" Dungeons and Dragons role-playing games, Magic the Gathering trading cards (go figure), or the dangers of rock and roll music. There was one time the school even invited an American ex-gay minister to preach at the pulpit.

Well, the irony is rich indeed. With this sexual impropriety scandal involving the principal, it's always fun to see the sanctimonious, holier-than-thou types experience the cognitive dissonance of reconciling their pre-conceived notions with reality.

I actually have a little bit of sympathy for Dr Ong since he's going through hell right now (although if he was hitting on one of his teachers, it's his own damn fault), but I have no sympathy for those at ACS who are distressed by the turn of events.

Turns out that men who have the hots for other men don't just include effete, breathless, hand-wringing types. Or promiscuous, depraved sexual predators. Who knew they could also be fine, upstanding scholars, officers and gentlemen? Hello gay sociology 101, welcome to the real world, folks.

And then there's the ACJC scandal. Quite apart from the reprehensible behavior of students secretly filming other students doing the horizontal tango and then circulating the video, which is already a huge deal to handle, Kelvyna Chan now has a full-blown crisis to deal with because of the gay dimension as well.

Guess she won't be taking over Dr Ong anytime soon.

There's just no good way to deal with the ACJC scandal because our straitlaced culture and societal norms make even talking about anything involving gay people or gay sex taboo and uncomfortable. This is what happens when people sweep stuff beneath the carpet and ignore reality. Conversations that should have happened in the open during less tumultous times now have to be had on terms much less appealing. 

Make no mistake. The filming and dissemination of the sex video was an malicious act that should be severely punished. The "having sex in a public place and hence invitation to be filmed" argument isn't an excuse.

But because there are undoubtedly ACJC students like this one: 'What I saw disgusted me,' said the second-year student, who said he could not bring himself to continue watching the rest of the clip, there will inevitably be some quarter of the student population who will somehow view this incident as okay because it involves victims whom they would consider as sexual deviants. Two girls who had it coming to them.

Because a frank conversation on sexual differences probably has never taken place at ACJC, how is Kelvyna Chan and the teachers at ACJC supposed to impress on their students that this kind of behavior, secretly filming other students having sex, is not acceptable, no matter who is involved?

How are they going to reassure their students that the school is a safe environment for learning? Not just for the kids who are still experimenting sexually, but for the collection of misfits, oddballs, and unconventional types that you find in any school who aren't part of the alpha clique of cool kids? Who's going to be safe from the Plastics at ACJC if the school doesn't send a strong message that this is unacceptable? 

And if ACJC is really serious about discouraging kids from having sex at that vulnerable age, really, how useful are your abstinence-until-marriage sex-ed classes going to be for the segment of your student population for whom marriage is irrelevant? Like, hello? If you don't even acknowledge their existence, how are you even going to start that conversation with kids who are confused (or sure) about their sexuality?

I think Kelvyna Chan must be secretly glad the two girls have transferred out of her school. She can't expel them just for having sex; that would invite accusations of sexual discrimination. Yet, if they weren't expelled, there would have been a firestorm of protests from concerned parents that ACJC was degenerating in their moral standards. Remember, this is ACJC we're talking about. The same God-fearing Methodist folks who think Magic the Gathering cards are from the devil, to say nothing of sexual perversion.

So, the two girls have transferred out. Now, Kelvyna just has to decide what to do with the students responsible for the filming and circulation. Good luck with that.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. (I responded to the incident here, if you're interested.) It shows up the deficiencies in coverage, it really does. And it's a sad outcome for all (though, it goes without saying, my sympathy is entirely with the two girls; this is a godawful situation ttm).

Your description of studying in a mission school sounds vastly different from mine; I must confess myself shocked. =/ Then again, I grew up RC. I remember comics being banned when I was in primary school, but that was because wee little convent girls had discovered the joys of H manga. A little more understandable an outrage than, um, castigating DnD players. Ouch.)

Anonymous said...

thank you for this. your post has adequately expressed my thoughts regarding the issues.

- current student of the college