The Naughty Professor/Forgotten Americans/When a Man Slugs a Woman | Media | Chicago Reader

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The Naughty Professor/Forgotten Americans/When a Man Slugs a Woman

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The Naughty Professor

The essence of the First Amendment is that you can't be made to suffer for what you say until you say it. Afterward you take the consequences. The consequences might not be fair, even if they're legal or constitutional--but when the hammer falls you've yourself to blame if you didn't see it coming.

Jack Hafferkamp, a journalism instructor at Northwestern, just got consequenced out of a job. The hammer didn't catch him totally by surprise. His standing with Dean Michael Janeway had been precarious since Janeway called him in to discuss Hafferkamp's appearance last winter on the HBO series Real Sex. Hafferkamp and his colleague in love and literature, Marianna Beck, were interviewed in their capacity as publishers of the quarterly journal Libido, which they founded in 1988. Said capacity was examined with unusual frankness: in the spirit of the magazine, Hafferkamp and Beck fondled, disrobed, and conjugated for a still photographer, whose pictures became part of the show.

"I also teach journalism to graduate students at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University," Hafferkamp chatted on camera. "Part of the price that I pay professionally [for Libido] is that while no one at the university has said to me 'Don't do that,' I think it's pretty clear that if I weren't doing it those up in the upper levels would feel more comfortable with my presence."

Janeway summoned his employee. Hafferkamp recalled, "Number one, he revealed that he hadn't seen it." But he'd heard. "He said, whatever you do in your private life is one thing, but never connect the two, the university and Libido. And I said, "I understand that, but the way you're saying that suggests I should in some way be ashamed of what I'm doing there. And I'm not. I think that what we do there is useful and valuable. And I'm not ashamed.' And he said, 'I don't care about that.' Those were his exact words."

They did not speak again, but when the Daily Northwestern began preparing a long feature on Libido that would run in February, Hafferkamp sent the dean a note of warning. This article did him in, Hafferkamp fears. "What really rotated his tires was when the Daily reporter or editor called him for a comment and he was in the position of trying to duck the Daily. He didn't talk to them."

As now he wouldn't talk to Hot Type.

Janeway's recent note dumping Hafferkamp did not err on the side of warmth. "Dear Jack," it said, "I'm sorry to report that we won't be calling on you for teaching in the coming academic year. This is in line with the kinds of changes in full-time vs. part-time/adjunct faculty staffing of courses we've been moving towards. Thank you for your contributions to the school over time."

Janeway's justification wasn't snatched from thin air. A segment of the Medill faculty has long argued that one-year contracts offered a "back door" for faculty that bypassed search committees and peer review. Better to hire for keeps or to hire adjuncts--temps--only by the quarter.

Janeway agrees with this thinking, and over the last couple of years he's drastically cut down on one-year hires. But Hafferkamp, after seven years at Medill, was open to continuing under different terms. Janeway had other choices.

But HBO had made him notorious. And though his former colleagues agree he was a fine teacher, nothing made him irreplaceable. The thing is, though Hafferkamp taught an intro course, Libido gave him other teaching skills Medill never tapped. "Jack created a magazine from scratch, which is not an easy thing to do," observes instructor James Ylisela Jr. "And he's had to learn everything from desktop publishing to arcane postal regulations on second-class mailing. He's really become more of an asset to the school because of his knowledge of what it takes to put out a small publication. That's how I view Libido. The content is another matter. I've watched him over the years as he's built this thing up. It's really a workshop on how do we start something from scratch and make it grow?"

Libido claims a circulation of about 9,000 and makes a little money, Hafferkamp told us, but not enough to support one owner, let alone two. So he has some serious thinking to do about his future. At the moment he and Beck are both studying for doctorates in sexology at the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco. They believe this advanced education can only help their journal.

Forgotten Americans

The personal journalism we saw before the World Cup began was pathetic. There were the writers who can't figure soccer and made fun of it, the writers who like the sport and begged their readers to like it too, and the puritanical chauvinists who wish they could keep the event to themselves.

Rock bottom was Phil Hersh's confession that just before the Germany-Bolivia game began he intended to shut his eyes and pretend he was in a fabled stadium in Mexico City, London, Rio, or Milan. "When the reverie ends, alas, I am going to be at Soldier Field in Chicago," he went on. "Then the sad truth will be immutable: the World Cup of soccer, the world's most popular sports spectacle, actually is going to happen in the United States."

We think this view is perfectly nuts. For sanity, we turned to the ethnic press. La Raza carried a special section on the World Cup, not a word of which, so far as we could see, was burdened with doubt. La Raza knew what mattered; just as important, it knew that its readers knew.

Do your readers care about the World Cup? we then asked Howard Chang, assistant editor of the Korea Times. "Yes, of course," he said. "They are calling us about the Korean national team's schedules, how they will do. It is the single biggest sports event in the world, and it is very popular--we spare a lot of space for the World Cup coverage."

Poland doesn't even have a team in the tournament. What do your readers think? we asked Andy Kaw of the Polish Daily News. "We have special extra pages inside. They're crazy about soccer." And Diane Lymberopoulos, assistant editor of the Greek Star, called the Cup "a historic event. It's the first time the Greek team has made it."

Amerika-Woche is running a contest: guess the two teams in the finals and win a trip to Germany. "Soccer is a major part of this paper," said publisher Christian Baermann. "The German league is covered every week. We offer special pages on the soccer World Cup. For us Germans it's a huge big deal."

Here are Chicago papers that didn't beg their readers to be polite and pay attention. We can't think of the last time the dailies that claim to speak for the city have been so blatantly out of touch with so much of it.

When a Man Slugs a Woman

Even as the white Bronco proceeded along the freeways of Los Angeles, a theory was being crafted that the O.J. Simpson we all knew and loved was an artifice crafted by television and the movies, and by our own eagerness to think the best of famous athletes. Who he truly was might better be assembled from the clues of an impoverished youth, the brutality of football, and a handful of dimly remembered crime stories.

Perhaps. Simpson's measured flight ahead of a phalanx of squad cars pursuing like a vision from Thelma and Louise might have been the most transfixing television since the assassination of President Kennedy. Simpson was, in a sense, Kennedy, Oswald, and Thelma and Louise rolled into one. We didn't know Kennedy either. We would never know Oswald. Thelma and Louise we knew only because they were just pretend, invented to be understood. We explain away real people by picking and choosing from among their roots, even though they cannot explain themselves.

"I think of my life and feel I've done most of the right things so why do I end up like this?" wrote Simpson, echoing Job. Who besides himself might have failed him? Buddies who humored him, cops and courts that put up with him, and a press that concealed him. His 1989 arrest for beating his wife received almost no attention. According to the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, only one magazine, Jet, wrote anything, and according to the Los Angeles Times's own index, Simpson's hometown paper didn't say a word.

We couldn't help but think as the Bronco rolled along, past the waving well-wishers in the opposite lanes, that in some parts of the world there'd still be no problem. A man of means overcome by emotion can do what he wants, and even the murder of a wife can be made right. Compassion in those parts isn't hounded from the streets by justice.

When we bought the house we live in now we soon heard about the couple from the old country who'd occupied it earlier. His ways were simple ways, carried with him from distant soil, and when his wife finally called the police and begged them for help, he saw it was time to teach the lesson that life for her would be lived by unchanging rules.

He clobbered her in front of the officers and handed them some bills. No trouble here, one cop said to the other, and they pocketed the cash and went on their way. Thus passed the critical moment in the couple's marriage, at least as it pleased him to describe the occasion. Marital harmony had been restored.

A man's life is a series of trials that women often figure in. We recall sitting cross-legged in a park at dawn, chewing the grass while reading Thoreau and desperately trying to make ourself worthy. Our anguish then was a hair's width from fury. Who was she to change her mind about how worthy we'd been in the first place?

It was nothing more than a brief spell of obsession. Men grow up telling each other that without such spells life is not fully lived. That a little madness marks one's amplitude of spirit. That the true predators, such as Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, are often women. The night O.J. Simpson's wife was murdered a Tony award was being given to Passion, a musical drama written by two men about a woman who couldn't leave a man alone.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Steven D. Arazmus, Lori Eanes.

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