The Pedophile Writings of UT Professor Thomas Hubbard

UT Austin Professor Thomas Hubbard has been under fire for months ever since student protestors unearthed academic writings that they say prove he advocates for allowing sex between adult men and children.

The students staged a protest outside Hubbard’s house and have demanded his termination from the university.

In response to this controversy, Hubbard produced a written reply denying that he advocated for pedophilia, but acknowledging that he has written extensively on the topic of “pederasty,” which he defines as “romantic courtship of adolescent males.”

Hubbard denigrated complaints about his writings as mere “social media rumors” and insisted on being judged by his whole academic record, which includes at least 13 academic papers about Greek pederasty and other related topics.

Well, we took him up on that, going to his academic writings directly. And frankly, after reviewing these writings, we are still disturbed — more so, in fact, than when we began this inquiry.

Hubbard is a professor of classics (the study of ancient Greece and Rome), so it is not inappropriate for him to study historical practices like pederasty in ancient Greece. But he has gone beyond mere description of these practices to openly advocate for replicating them in contemporary U.S. society. Such practices would flaunt modern age-of-consent laws, among other well-established norms that protect children.

His views on this topic are not isolated to one or two instances of casual conversation, or a mere tweet or off-the-cuff remark. No, this topic has been for him a matter of sustained interest and advocacy.

Below Hubbard’s writings are quoted at length. Judge for yourself.

‘The Problem of Pederastic Hierarchy’

In 2013 Hubbard published an article in the journal Phoenix titled, “The Irreducibility of Myth: Plato’s Phaedrus, Apollo, Admetus, and The Problem of Pederastic Hierarchy.” In it, he questions the typical portrayal of pederastic relationships as hierarchical, with the man as the domineering force and the boy as a passive partner. He instead describes the boy in the relationship as the one with the real power, quoting Greek love poetry as his evidence:

“In fact, one could argue that it is really the eromenos [boy-lover] who subjects his lover to torment, and the erastes [man-lover] who submits to the overpowering force of Eros [erotic love]… The beloved boy can ‘tame minds’ (Thgn. 1235) and act as the ‘charioteer of the soul’ (Anac. fr. 360 PMG). Anacreon declares that Love strikes him with a great hammer and plunges him into a wintry torrent (fr. 413 PMG).”

Man-Boy Love ‘Confers Great Benefit’

A paper called “Sexual Consent and the Adolescent Male, or What can we Learn from the Ancient Greeks?” appeared in the journal Thymos in 2010. It reiterates Hubbard’s view that the boy in a man-boy relationship is the one with the real power.

“The Greeks certainly did not buy into the canard [lie] that adults always have more power in a relationship with someone younger. Vase paintings typically show more suitors than boys… Given the relative scarcity of available and interested boys in the desirable 14‐20 age range compared to the many adult men who might desire them, the demographic balance of power always rested with the young.”

“Older men might have more money, social connections, or experience of the world, but the young had the power of beauty…”

‘Little or No Long-Term Harm to the Younger Partner’

The paper also insists that no real harm is done to a child in such a relationship, at least in the view of the ancient Greeks whom Hubbard so admires: “The only long-term harm that most Greeks thought might come to a sexually active adolescent was the risk to one’s reputation if judged too easy or promiscuous.”

He then asks, “To what extent can the evidence of the Greek model be applicable to modern Western societies? We have in Greece the documented record of a culturally advanced and highly successful society: it suggests that where age-discrepant relationships are commonplace and positively reinforced, they cause little or no long‐term harm to the younger partner and often confer great benefit in elite enculturation.”

‘A Libertarian Stance Toward Male Adolescent Sexual Activity’

Hubbard goes on to reflect on modern age of consent laws: “Of course… every culture is a unique matrix of social practices and values that has its own logical consistency, and the question of what is properly ‘adult’ is often at the heart of cultural self-definition. For the Greeks, as for most civilizations and even most animal species… ‘adult’ and ‘sexual’ are not coterminous categories, although adults are usually sexual in different ways than pre-adults. In the Greek case, both adolescents and adults were assumed to be sexual, capable of consent, and capable of intimacy…”

“…One need not belabor the fact that there are many differences between ancient Greece and the modern West, whether with regard to the status of women, the presence of slaves, or the nature of education. Our challenge is to consider which of the cultural differences, if any, materially affect the calculus of benefit vs. harm in a libertarian stance toward male adolescent sexual activity, including contact between adolescents and adults.”

“…[Is] pederastic mentorship harmful and exploitive in our society? Mass education of the sort practiced in the modern West can efficiently teach factual information and certain mechanical skills. It can also teach students how to conform with the socio-economic demands of a large-scale modern economy. But there is much wisdom it cannot teach and that can only be learned through one-on-one interaction with an older and more experienced practitioner of an art or skill.”

“Particularly for those who are not born to privileged family backgrounds or for the many boys who grow up without the sustained involvement of a father in their lives, the acquisition of social graces and verbal eloquence, not to mention moral awareness, can most readily come from close personal intimacy with older, respected, extra-familial role models who embody those capacities…”

Sex Education: ‘Learn by Doing’

This quote is again from the paper “Sexual Consent and the Adolescent Male, or What can we Learn from the Ancient Greeks?”:

“What about sex education, which is certainly an important component of young people’s social and physical development? Is there any area that is more personal and private for growing adolescents, who often feel awkward about their own bodies and physical development? …Yet sex education is always awkward within the nuclear family, where any positive discussion of sex gives off a whiff of incest and any negative discussion reeks of patriarchy. In this context, is pedagogical mentorship by a somewhat older, trusted and admired friend such a bad idea? As with most other skills, doesn’t one learn by doing…? And doesn’t one learn the most from those who are already experienced, rather than from other blundering, ill-informed, emotionally immature teenagers?”

Consent Laws Should Be Different for Boys and Girls

Hubbard suggests that age of consent laws should be different for males and females:

“We cannot resolve here the question whether underage non-marital sex is less positive for females because Western society conditions females to value virginity and sexual modesty more highly or because of more essential, biological factors… However we must pose the question whether age of consent law should necessarily treat underage males and females the same, given the wide variance in their sexual drives and development, as well as the greater health risks faced by females.”

“Could it be that in our zeal to protect vulnerable underage females, we have set up a legal regime that does unnecessary harm to underage males by suppressing and even punishing the entirely natural and powerful sexual urges that every male feels at the age of puberty, but cannot always fulfill with partners his own age? Are these legal barriers not especially onerous to gay and bi-sexual boys, who often seek a somewhat older and more experienced partner, but can only find one in conditions of anonymity and secrecy, because the legal risks of any adult’s open sexual involvement with a teen are so severe?”

“…we must raise the question whether a gender-neutral age-of-consent law is actually a wise policy.”

‘Draconian Punishment of Adults Involved in Any Physical Way with a Child’

In a stunning final turn, Hubbard goes on to lament recent advances in law enforcement efforts to catch child predators:

“Popularly elected district attorneys and judges, whether liberal or conservative, routinely appeal to voters on the basis of their commitment to protecting children; in recent years, this takes the form of substantial investigative resources devoted to luring and entrapping potential pedophiles online or through phony solicitations to purchase child pornography. The greatest change in the last two decades has not been in the legislative regimes, but in the relentless enforcement and draconian punishment of adults involved in any physical way with a child.”

Teens ‘At a Structural Advantage’ Over Male Pedophiles

Hubbard: “The objection to adult sexual contact with adolescents is that the young can be manipulated because they occupy a position of ‘structural disadvantage’ relative to all adults — less financial independence, less mobility, less practical experience… However, the premise that these adult advantages automatically lead adolescents to submit to any adult’s authority both overvalues the advantages and underestimates the cockiness and independence of adolescents, especially adolescent boys. As the Greek model shows, adolescent boys were empowered by the allure of their youth, energy, and potential…”

‘Censoring Sex Research’

Hubbard co-eded a book published in 2016 called Censoring Sex Research: The Debate over Male Intergenerational Relations. He authored the introduction and one chapter of the book.

In the introduction he wrote, “Why do we legally sanction relations between an affluent 50-year-old and a needy 20-year-old, but punish those between a cash-poor 19-year- old and a 15-year-old, if all power imbalances are inherently exploitive? Are teenage boys necessarily more fragile and less resilient than young adults of both genders? How can legal regimes best balance the need of developing adolescents for bodily autonomy and the concerns of well- meaning parents for protection of the young?”

“All of these are serious and difficult questions with major implications for public policy and family counseling. They need to be dealt with on the basis of scholarly research and sober discussion among professionals from various disciplines, not within the prisms of moral ideology and emotional intuition.”

Sex Abuse Reports ‘Exaggerated’

Hubbard also wrote that the recent emergence of widespread public concern over child sexual abuse stems in part from “exaggerated reports.”

He praised books like that of Philip Jenkins, who wrote Moral Panic: Changing Concepts of the Child Molester in Modern America (1998). Hubbard referred to these as “historically oriented studies that also demonstrated, based on different evidence sets, how ‘protection’ of children from sexuality had its origins in paternalistic regimes for controlling children’s sexuality.”

Hubbard further cited approvingly several contemporary films that explored “adult-child relations.”

He wrote, “An actual suburban pedophile is portrayed sympathetically in L.I.E. (2001); For a Lost Soldier (1994) shows a brief affair between a 13-year-old Dutch boy and a Canadian soldier in the waning days of World War II as a formative life experience for the boy. Notes on a Scandal (2006) centers upon a married female schoolteacher seduced by one of her 15-year-old male students. Films such as Larry Clark’s Kids (1995) or Thirteen (2002) debunk any illusions about the sexual innocence of young teens. Even child prostitutes are revealed as willing existential agents in films like the German Street Kid (1991) and the Danish Pretty Boy (1995).”

Criticism of Sex Offender Registries

Another chapter of the same book, ‘The Sex Offender System: Punishing Home Sacer, the New Internal Enemy,’ writes critically of the U.S. system of sex offender registries.

Hubbard states, “The sex offender is a flashpoint of collective hate and demonization… What makes the sex offender unique is the extent the status itself is constituted by the database. Postmodern sexuality theory has called into question sexual categories-for example, ‘male,’ ‘female,’ ‘heterosexual,’ ‘homosexual’-and this notion of categorical fluidity is now widely embraced in mainstream Western culture. Sex offender registries have ironically reconstituted, with a sharply negative valence, sexual absolutes.”

The conclusion of the chapter compares the labeling of sex offenders with the persecution of Jews: “No less than the Star of David, the Pink Triangle, or an ‘A’ stamped on the forehead for adultery, the sex offender registry constitutes a permanent and public branding of the sexual outlaw, treating the crime, no matter how trivial or long ago, as a mark of Cain identifying the individual to everyone as a social leper and an irredeemable threat who may never be rehabilitated and who can always be located, should local police need to round up the ‘usual suspects.’”

“This panoptic regime of never-ending surveillance might be justified were there a demonstrably greater propensity to reoffend on the part of sex offenders, and especially child sex offenders (the ones whose possible proximity to schools, parks, and day care centers motivates the onerous residency restrictions). However, the recidivism rate among child sex offenders is lower than for felons generally…”

UT Inquiry

UT President Greg Fenves has announced that the university will be reviewing the “concerns and complaints” about Hubbard. He also told the Dallas Morning News in a letter that he personally finds Hubbard’s view “outrageous.”

He said, “All faculty at UT Austin have broad academic freedom… [but] while teachers enjoy freedom in the classroom they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject.”

Fenves concluded, “For the last few years, the university has assigned Hubbard to teach Classics courses that do not relate to the controversial topics in his writings. But we are aware of the concerns and complains about those classes this semester. We have been and are reviewing them and will take appropriate action, within the bounds of academic freedom and the constitutionally protected right to free speech.”

Originally published at https://www.honestaustin.com on January 21, 2020.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Honest Austin

Original reporting on local Austin news, Texas politics, and the economy. honestaustin.com