May 8, 2002
Professor provocative, not sexist, students say
Seven women tell libel trial teacher not offensiveLes Perreaux
WINNIPEG - Seven female students defended their former professor yesterday at his libel trial against The Winnipeg Sun, saying he never made anti-female or homophobic remarks during his lectures.
Several students noted that Henry Makow's Literature of Ideas course was among the more interesting classes offered at the University of Winnipeg. The students said Mr. Makow encouraged discussion and offered a traditional view of family life that differed from the feminist theory that dominates discussion on campus.
"He encouraged us to disagree with him. He encouraged us to challenge him," said Melissa Rempel, 22.
"It's the only class I've ever had in university where I attended every single class," added Lisa Labossiere, 21. "It was an exciting class and there was lots of debate. I didn't agree with much of what he had to say, but there was a lot to say on both sides."
The Winnipeg Sun published an article that proclaimed Mr. Makow unfit to teach and accused him of making inappropriate sexual comments to his students and bragging about a time he beat his girlfriend.
The paper quoted un-named former students of his class, mostly young feminists who objected to his view that women would be better off without careers and should concentrate on being good wives and mothers. The president of the university and students who complained about Mr. Makow are expected to testify later in the trial.
Women students complained Mr. Makow, who is also the inventor of the board game Scruples, talked too much about sex and mocked traditional Jews and Muslims for their dress.
Morag MacLellan, 22, and six of her classmates said the allegations are false. The women said they would have been offended had Mr. Makow condoned wife-beating or mocked religious minorities. Ms. MacLellan said Mr. Makow invited all kinds of discussion in his class and never singled-out students.
Mr. Makow has maintained he lost his job at the university and was maligned in the newspaper because of his controversial traditional beliefs. He is suing the university in a separate lawsuit.
Since his dismissal, Mr. Makow has taken those beliefs even further, recently penning articles entitled, "Big Sister is Watching" and "Why I am Proud to be Homophobic," court has heard.
Ms. MacLellan dismissed suggestions Mr. Makow singled out women or made inappropriate comments in class. "There were some who didn't like what he was saying, that they felt it was offensive. I have no idea what they found offensive. I didn't see anything offensive. I thought they were just being immature," she said.
Bonnie McKissock, 33, mocked the rather puritanical tone that dominated much of the questioning yesterday. Robert Tapper, the Sun's lawyer, asked each of the women if they would be offended by a professor discussing students' sex lives or his own. Ms. McKissock scoffed at the suggestion. "I would suggest that more gets discussed in classes than most people know about," she testified.
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