A legal lynching took place Thursday at the hands of the media, Glen Canning, and the Mount Saint Vincent University administration. They and we should all feel a bit dirty.
Michael Kydd, a part-time instructor at Mount Saint Vincent University, was suspended, then resigned, after he was found to have had a brief sexual relationship with a student.
The student was 38 years old, Kydd is 40. The course was a distance education offering, the sex consensual. The woman says they were both going through a difficult patch—Kydd was separated from his wife and seeking a divorce—when they found comfort in each other’s arms. A total of two liaisons, a bit of sexting, and some shared explicit photos.
On one occasion, Kydd prorated a grade for the woman, as he had for other students, when a medical emergency prevented her from attending an exam.
A few weeks ago, the unnamed woman somehow began meeting with Canning, the crusading father of the late Rehtaeh Parsons, and shortly after, she reported the affair to the school administration. Yesterday Canning tweeted a bowdlerized photo of the man’s penis along with some disapproving text.
I’ll pause for a moment while you absorb that.
When teenaged boys texted an explicit photo of Rehtaeh, Canning understandably demanded their hides. Throughout the process leading to the boys’ sentencing, he was constantly on the news and in social media, condemning their actions and the bullying it engendered.
He showed no such concern for Kydd’s children, or the families involved, when he shared an explicit photo without consent yesterday—only an impulse to indulge in slut-shaming of his own. When his lewd display touched off a firestorm on Twitter, he deleted the tweet but remained unrepentant.
The Mount suspended Kydd, and gratuitously reassured students the accused instructor was “not currently in the classroom”—gotta keep up the fantasy he posed some kind of menace, don’t you know. President Ramona Lumpkin issued a statement affirming the university’s sensitivity to “protecting and supporting the student who has made this allegation and… providing whatever supports needed.”
Like a backbone, maybe?
The only backbone in evidence belonged to Kydd, who summoned reporters to his lawyer’s office, where he read a statement acknowledging his actions and announced he had resigned from his part-time teaching job.
“I did not want to compound my mistake—and this is my mistake—by failing to come forward and take responsibility,” he said. “I expect my career to be ruined.”
Seriously? Of all the characters in this tawdry operetta—the ex-lover, the avenging hypocrite, the prissy president—Kydd is the only one I’d trust with work, children, or the truth. He’s the only one who owned up, spoke plain words, shouldered responsibility.
This is but the latest example of what happens when authorities substitute zero tolerance for considered judgment.
I’d say the Merit Contractors Association of Nova Scotia, where Kydd serves as president, is fortunate to have a person of his character. I suspect they won’t be stampeded into joining the lynch mob.
One last thing: Will this episode finally persuade the Halifax media to exercise critical judgment and stop treating Canning as a hero whose every mean-spirited utterance is regarded as received truth?