June 8, 1996

Heather Bird

And Don't Come Back No More

Will somebody please tell Gerald Hannon his 15 minutes are over.

Of course, he doesn't see it that way. It would appear he thinks he has just begun to fight.

Hannon, for those of you who need to be reminded, is the former Ryerson University part-time instructor who moonlighted as both a freelance writer and a prostitute. (Presumably not at the same time. That would be impractical. Not to mention boring.)

He got into dutch with his employer (Ryerson, that is) last fall when he admitted that some of his well-documented views on the upside of pedophilia had somehow crept into the classroom once or twice. (Those would be the ones which compared adult-child sex to minor hockey because they both involved physical contact, teaching and pleasure. Hockey coaches all across Metro were enraged.) Then he further stirred it up by admitting on the record to Sun reporter Thane Burnett that he was sole proprietor and employee of a thriving cottage industry -- prostitution -- which he operated out of his downtown apartment.

And now, for some reason, he's surprised Ryerson won't be hiring him back this year.

Hannon has vowed not to go quietly and has started the process by hurling insults at both his former colleagues and the institution.

According to Hannon, Ryerson is now "Jurassic Park" and the three journalism instructors on the faculty committee who recommended hiring others ahead of him are "dinosaurs."

This arrogance is nothing new. He has always taken a patronizing view toward detractors. He once suggested on national television that I was simply too dim to appreciate the nuances of his case. (He was clearly breaking the rule of common sense which says it's ill-advised to pick fights with folks who order ink by the barrel.)

In the end, that arrogance played a prime role in his downfall. Hannon could have easily weathered the media storm surrounding his views on adult-child sex. While he admitted raising "intergenerational sex" in the classroom once or twice, there were issues of academic freedom and freedom of expression. (I don't think either applied, but that's another column.) At this point, while he may not have enjoyed the total support of his colleagues, neither were they prepared to speak out publicly against him. Nobody wanted him fired. A simple "no comment" would have saved him.

That was, of course, before he did radio, TV and newspaper interviews and expanded on his pro-pedophilia point of view. People began to wonder if he was enjoying the attention.

Those suspicions grew with his admission he was a prostitute. And became entrenched with each passing interview, including the campus newspaper story which contained explicit details of his sex life.

Meanwhile, the controversy was having a profound effect on the institution. Fund-raising was falling off, students, staff and alumni were complaining and key donors were pulling out. Ryerson's stellar reputation was becoming hostage to the caprices of a single, eccentric part-time employee. Indubitably, his legal challenges will go on for some time. Hannon grieved the disciplinary letter he received in December and there are five more days of hearings scheduled. The fight to regain another contract offer will take longer.

Strategically, however, Ryerson now has the upper hand. They no longer have to struggle to get him out. Hannon must fight his way back in. Early last week my phone rang at home. A nice young Ryerson student wanted to know if I, as an alumnus, would like to make a donation. Given the events of the last year, I declined.

But you know, once the dust settles, I hope they call me again.

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Created: November 13, 1996
Last modified: November 18, 1996

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