You can get away with a lot these days in terms of a criminal record. There are people in positions of power in private and public sectors with hard drugs convictions, and at least one prominent business player who has a manslaughter conviction. Crimes of violence, which left people with damage and fear. But allegations of a sex crime — any sex crime — and you are to be damned to perdition. Whether charged or not, your life is forfeit.
That appears to be the position of Marc Boxer, an adviser to Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy, who resigned this week after it was revealed that he had left teaching after an independent tribunal found that he had been inappropriate with a 15-year-old female student, bombarding her with emails and allegedly putting his hand down her pants. Boxer didn’t contest the substance of these allegations and left the profession, subsequently joining the public service. His career, and even a job, are now in doubt, and the media immediately dubbed this a scandal besetting the Napthine government.
Which summons the question: for godssake, why? And why manufacture it as such? Guy has known of Boxer’s past for 18 months. Boxer hasn’t been convicted of any crime, and is now in a profession which has no day-to-day contact with or supervision of children. The alleged crimes are bad, and the man should obviously not be teaching. But is it proposed that he be excluded from any form of professional employment — or any employment at all? How is he supposed to live?
The state government and public service is yet to rule on Boxer’s future, but the issue is wider than one man. It is about the occult power given to offences that have a sexual component, even when the event is manifestly less of a crime than, say, armed robbery or violent assault and battery. By trying to manufacture it as a scandal, the mainstream press are not only complicit in trying to destroy a man’s life, they are fuelling an utterly repressive notion of citizenship — one in which the commission of certain actions leads to eternal banishment. Unsurprisingly one of the first people to jump on the case was Hetty Johnston, demanding Boxer’s head — Johnston at her most vindictive and persecutory.
The reports were that small miracle — a campaign as sleazy as the original acts themselves. If Matthew Guy — not my favourite planning minister — kept this bloke on despite the risk of scandal, he deserves commendation (doubtless some other facts will emerge days later, and I will look a fool by next week). Labor used sex offences as cheap voter-bait in its dying days under former premier Brumby and ruined several lives. The government should let Boxer continue in his job — and it will be interesting to see whether the IPA freedom brigade are willing to stick their necks out on a cause like this — even though the interests of no large corporations are at stake.