Much has been written in defence of Tom Flanagan these past few days, most of it framing his comments on child porn as an attempt to spark intellectual debate thus the attendant uproar amounting to nothing less than an attack on academic freedom. HOGWASH.
I'm not an educated man and have never attended university but I do support the concept of academic freedom and believe university, nay all school campuses ought to be places of free thought and expression, places where "controversial' topics such as Israeli apartheid and yes social mores can be debated openly and freely.
If Flanagan was indeed merely engaged that evening in an academic exercise then perhaps an argument could be put forth that he was treated unfairly but that isn't what he was attempting to do. My read is that he was instead trying to justify he 2009 comments and was in fact expressing his personal beliefs on the subject, beliefs that are coloured by Flanagan's unflinching libertarianism.
Flanagan can walk back all he likes however the fact remains he was being honest when he stated that the viewing of child porn is a victimless crime, that is his belief. He could have argued against imposing a mandatory minimum sentence on those convicted of possessing child porn, a valid argument in that mandatory minimums can lead to unjust sentences at times, without claiming it is a victimless crime and nothing more than ones taste in photographs but he didn't.
He didn't because those are his beliefs.
The academic freedom argument also glosses over perhaps the most stunning revelation and that is that he was on NAMBLA's mailing list for a couple years. This little factoid is never mentioned by those leaping to his defence, why?... because there is no defence . NAMBLA is a vile, contemptuous group that advocates for the legalization of pedophilia. As many have pointed out if I were to "accidentally" find myself on their mailing list getting off it would consume my every effort until accomplished.
In the end Flanagan was done in by his own personal foibles and in the ultimate irony the very culture of intolerance to opposing viewpoints that he has been at the forefront of fostering, a culture by the way the diametric opposite to academic freedom.