Current Issue

June10, 2009

Vol. 109, No. 15

Debating sexual ethics

In response to: Imposing personal value judgments

We are pleased that Brian Zack ’72 agrees that Princeton should establish a center to support students who seek to lead chaste lives (letters, April 22). Dr. Zack’s endorsement is especially impressive in view of his own commitment to an extremely liberal view of sexual ethics.

Zack insists that “Sex on a Saturday Night” is designed to discourage date rape and not to promote liberal sexual ideology. Videotapes exist. Why not let readers decide for themselves? Will Dr. Zack join us in asking the University to post the tapes on the Internet so that alumni, parents, and young men and women who are considering applying to Princeton can see what Princeton requires its entering students to attend?

Dr. Zack also defends “Safer Sex Jeopardy.” His desire to “desensitize taboo topics” is not in the least surprising given his views about sexuality: He says that the University should support all sexual values that do not harm others. He regards no consensual sexual practice as so degrading, depersonalizing, or dehumanizing as to warrant exclusion from the University’s support. “Sex Jeopardy” does a very good job of inculcating in students a view of sexuality very much in line with Dr. Zack’s own. It’s no wonder he wants the University to continue strongly encouraging it.

Dr. Zack claims that we are guilty of an “an uncritical imposition” of our “personal value judgments, as if [our] concepts of morality are unarguable.” Nonsense. We have no power to “impose” our values on Princeton’s administration, faculty, and students, or on readers of PAW. All we can do is state our reasons and arguments. Does Dr. Zack not see the difference between imposing — as, for example, when the University makes attendance at “Sex on a Saturday Night” mandatory — and stating one’s views?

Robert P. George, Professor of politics
John B. Londregan, Professor of politics and international affairs

Post Comments
1 Response to Debating sexual ethics

Brian Zack '72 p'04 Says:

2009-06-17 10:22:14

Robby - I am a bit astonished that among the entire alumni community this issue is attracting so little comment, so I thought I'd at least make my presence known. I will assume that we are still speaking, and I look forward to seeing you at the final precept. - Brian
Tell us what you think about
Debating sexual ethics
Enter the word as it appears in the picture below
By submitting a comment, you agree to PAW's comment posting policy.
CURRENT ISSUE: June10, 2009

Inbox Search:


* Online archives date back to Sept. 1995. The date filters only work for content posted after December 2007.

Browsing Letters 2008-2009

Inbox (Archives)

PAW welcomes letters on its contents and topics related to Princeton University. We may edit them for length, accuracy, clarity, and civility; brevity is encouraged. As a general guideline, letters should not exceed 250 words. Due to the volume of correspondence, we are unable to publish all letters received. Letters, articles, photos, and comments submitted to PAW may be published in print, electronic, or other forms. Write to PAW, 194 Nassau St., Suite 38, Princeton, NJ 08542; send email to; or call 609-258-4885.