Drexel Prof “Mortified” She Sent Porn to Students

Lisa McElroy discusses "public shaming" in Washington Post.

lisa mcelroy

You’ll remember back a few weeks, when we told you about Lisa McElroy, the Drexel law prof who accidentally sent porn to her students? Well, she has resurfaced — with an op-ed in the Washington post.

She’s both embarrassed and palpably angry at having her dignity undermined by the incident:

Still, no one questioned the dignity of those who forwarded the unintended post. No one asked why, if they found it so offensive, students opened the link, with its unmistakable Web address, and watched the video long enough to know what it contained.

No one publicly questioned the dignity of the so-called journalists who wrote salacious stories, broadcast them, waited outside my office to interview my students, called my unpublished cellphone number. And no one questioned the dignity of the intended audience. Tabloid journalists ran with this story because they knew they would get page views. How would they know that? Because they know their readers and viewers — and they know that scandal, sex and shame are irresistible to those who devour their posts.

But what’s really fascinating about this story is not that a law professor inadvertently shared a porn link with her students. What’s newsworthy is that, actually, there was nothing newsworthy about it. What happened was, in the grand scheme, pretty trivial. My students are adults. The link was quickly removed. There was nothing illegal in the video. The post occurred in the same two-month period when the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” grossed almost $570 million worldwide. Yet, because it was porn and I’m a law professor, news organizations spread the story around the world.

We’re not so sure that blaming students for opening the email she sent them is the right move on McElroy’s part. As for newsworthiness? Remember: McElroy was put on leave during a short Drexel investigation that concluded her sharing of the porn was inadvertent. “Law prof put on leave pending investigation” — yeah, that’s a story.

But McElroy is ready move on and reclaim her dignity. “You can go back,” she writes. “You can reimagine yourself, and your reputation, and your professional image. You can come to realize that there are worse things than humiliation.”