Stephen Kershnar is a State University of New York at Fredonia professor who is under fire after video clips surfaced in which he says it’s not obvious to him that pedophilia is “in fact wrong” if the child consents.
The Twitter page Libs of TikTok shared video of Kershnar’s comments and wrote, “It just keeps getting worse! @FredoniaU this guy needs to be fired ASAP.”
The video clips come from a longer interview posted on YouTube by a site called Brain in a Vat that dealt with “sexual taboos.” The caption on that video reads, “Should there be an age of consent? Is it wrong to fantasize about someone against their will? Is it wrong to lust after someone because of their race?”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. On Video, Kershnar Discussed Adults Having Sex With Children & Said, ‘It’s Not Obvious to Me That It Is in Fact Wrong’
Kershnar, a philosophy professor, caused a firestorm when video clips on his comments were posted to Twitter.
“Imagine that an adult male wants to have sex with a 12-year-old girl. Imagine that she’s a willing participant. A very standard, very widely held view is there’s something deeply wrong about this. And it’s wrong independent of it being criminalized,” he said in one video.
“It’s not obvious to me that it is in fact wrong. I think this is a mistake. And I think that exploring why it’s a mistake will tell us not only things about adult-child sex and statutory rape but also about fundamental principles of morality,” he said.
He also said, “the notion that it’s wrong…even with a one-year-old, it’s not quite obvious to me.” He pointed out that in “at least one culture,” there are reports of grandmothers allegedly “fellating their baby boys to calm them down when they’re colicky. I don’t know if it’s true…if this were to be true…it’s hard to see what would be wrong with it.” He said he doesn’t think there’s a “blanket period beyond which this is permissible if we’re interested in willing participation… I don’t think it’s a blanket wrong at any age.”
In a lengthy discussion of consent, he said, “There’s lots of activities that children engage in that they don’t understand all that well. For example, when you, when you first show up to participate in a Judo tournament, or you prepare for your Bar Mitzvah,” he said. He also made an analogy to kickball.
2. Kershnar Has Written About ‘Adult-Child Sex,’ ‘Hell,’ & Sexual Fantasies, His University Bio Says
Kershnar’s university biography describes him as a “distinguished teaching professor in the philosophy department at the State University of New York at Fredonia and an attorney.”
The bio says that he “focuses on applied ethics and political philosophy. Kershnar has written one hundred articles and book chapters on such diverse topics as abortion, adult-child sex, hell, most valuable player, pornography, punishment, sexual fantasies, slavery, and torture.”
He has authored 10 books, “including Desert Collapses: Why No One Deserves Anything (2021), Total Collapse: The Case Against Morality and Responsibility (2018), and Abortion, Hell, and Shooting Abortion-Doctors: Does the Pro-Life Worldview Make Sense? (2017),” the bio explains.
His teaching interests are listed as:
1. Applied Ethics (Abortion, The Good, Torture)
Property Rights, The Good, and Torture)
2. Metaphysics (Metaphysics and Autonomy)
3. Philosophy of Law (Philosophy of Law, Philosophy of Civil Law, and Philosophy of Criminal Law)
4. Political Philosophy (Political Philosophy, Distributive Justice, Property Rights, and Libertarianism)
He’s listed as a “distinguished teaching professor.”
3. Former Students Wrote That Kershnar ‘Definitely Had a Different Point of View’
Libs of TikTok shared screenshots from an alumni discussion by people who knew Kershnar. Some of the comments include:
“Having taken philosophy 101 with him without knowing anything about him beforehand… I can’t say I’m surprised. Ugh.”
“I literally saw the post and thought ‘I bet it was Kershnar.’ I remember hearing about him… after I had finished a semester taking his class. Smart guy and if I recall comes from a very smart family. As a philosophy teacher he was able to debate different view points, but I think he’s going to have a hard time arguing this case.”
“I had 2 separate classes with him and he definitely had a different point of view. I just figured I didn’t really understand philosophy enough.”
“So embarrassing and disturbing.”
4. The University’s President Called Kershnar’s Views ‘Reprehensible’
SUNY Fredonia President Stephen H. Kolison posted a statement on the university’s Twitter page on February 1, 2022.
“SUNY Fredonia is aware of a video posted online involving one of its professors,” it reads.
“The views expressed by the professor are reprehensible and do not represent the values of SUNY Fredonia in any way, shape or form. They are solely the professor’s views. The matter is being reviewed.”
5. Kershnar Has a Law Degree
On LinkedIn, he says that he has been a professor at State University of New York for more than 23 years.
He was also a “visitor” to the United States Military Academy an a senior lecturer at Wayne State University in 1997-1998.
He received a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.
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