May 7, 2002
Inventor of 'Scruples' under fire
Board game creator: Professor accused of misconduct with female studentsLes Perreaux
WINNIPEG - A former university professor suing a newspaper for libel was accused of being anti-gay and anti-female at the start of a trial yesterday.
But the scathing attack on Henry Makow and his conduct at the University of Winnipeg led to the jury being dismissed after only 20 minutes.
"Mr. Makow is completely out of touch with the modern world. We will show you his hatred of women, gays and liberals, the people he resents," Robert Tapper, representing The Winnipeg Sun, said at the start of the trial.
"He went to the Philippines to find a submissive wife. We will give you extracts of his writings that show you how he thinks, writes and teaches. Some of what you hear will shock your conscience."
Mr. Makow's lawyer, Sidney Green, moved immediately for a mistrial, saying the jury had been irrevocably prejudiced by Mr. Tapper's opening statement.
"I've only just begun," Mr. Tapper told Mr. Green. Mr. Justice Marc Monnin of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench instead decided to hear the case alone.
Mr. Makow is suing The Winnipeg Sun for libel because of an opinion piece it published about him. He claims the article portrayed him as unprofessional and guilty of sexual misconduct.
Mr. Makow, the 52-year-old inventor of the board game Scruples, was dismissed in 2000 from his job as an English lecturer at the University of Winnipeg. He was accused of professional misconduct with young female students. In particular, he was accused of leading sexually charged discussions in his class and outside of it, and of espousing his theory that women should go back to their traditional roles in society.
Mr. Makow is suing the university, accusing it of discriminating against him because of his views on the roles of men and women. That trial has yet to begin.
Mr. Makow believes women should be proud of motherhood and forget careers. They should be submissive, but not subservient. In Mr. Makow's words, ''penis equals power.''
Testifying yesterday, Mr. Makow said he has been ostracized in the academic community for his anti-feminist opinions, views that are controversial and unusual on university campuses.
"I was being made into a pervert, someone who has totally breached his obligations as a professional, as a teacher," he said.
"I advanced the view that men and women are different and I advanced support for women who want to be wives and mothers and make that their goal in life. It was clear to me you had to identify yourself as a feminist in order to advance and I did not."
Mr. Makow was a lecturer on a one-year contract in 1999-2000 when students complained of unusual tactics in addition to his controversial views.
Court was told yesterday that students claimed Mr. Makow announced in class that he had once had a fight with his former girlfriend but afterward they had great makeup sex. One student interpreted the story as Mr. Makow expressing support for wife-beating. Mr. Makow testified yesterday that he told his 30-year-old story during a discussion of A Streetcar Named Desire to illustrate that physical confrontation is sometimes a part of passion.
Court was told that on another occasion, a student said Mr. Makow asked her when and how she lost her innocence and whether certain passages from Lady Chatterley's Lover aroused her. Mr. Makow testified the student offered the information, and he attempted to defuse the situation by joking, "tell us more."
A handful of Mr. Makow's 70 students complained that too much of the class was devoted to gender roles, religion and sex, even though the class description indicated those would be favoured topics. The class, titled Literature of Ideas, was designed by Mr. Makow and approved by the university.
Mr. Tapper walked Mr. Makow through the passages of his book, A Long Way to Go for a Date, about his efforts to find a bride in the Philippines.
Mr. Makow married a 19-year-old woman. In different passages, Mr. Makow laments that liberated women are too demanding. He compares modern women to "big labour in the 1970s" which, he said, became lazy in its position of privilege.
"What's it like for a woman to lose her looks?" Mr. Makow wrote. "It's probably like a child who finds out for the first time that he will no longer get special treatment."
Mr. Green objected to the line of questioning, saying Mr. Makow's old-fashioned views do not entitle the newspaper to libel him and accuse him of professional misconduct. "These views do not impact on his professionalism or fitness. It's no different than the people on the other side who say, 'You don't need a man, a carrot or a cucumber will do.' They can't be slandered because of these views. And there is no shortage of people on campus who think that."
A dozen of Mr. Makow's former students are expected to testify before the trial ends later this week.
Copyright © 2002 National Post Online