Brian Ferguson was a student at the Waxahatchie campus of Navarro College, a two-year school in Texas. This wouldn’t be anything particularly notable, but for the fact that Brian was autistic, and attended special needs classes. It’s really pretty cool that Navarro offers such classes, and gives a student with autism the opportunity to make the most of himself.
Well, that’s done now, after Brian mistook a female student for someone he knew.
A Waxahachie man who has autism was kicked out of college classes because he mistakenly hugged a woman he did not know and kissed her on the top of her head, according to the man’s mother.
Brian Ferguson, 20, was attending special-needs classes at Navarro College’s Waxahachie campus when he thought he recognized a young woman in the hallway, said Ferguson’s mother, Staci Martin.
The woman, who has not been identified and could not be reached for comment, turned out to be a stranger.
Let’s assume the woman Brian mistakenly hugged and kissed atop the head was mortified and embarrassed by the unwanted buss. Fair enough. Nobody should be forced to suffer a hug and kiss from someone they don’t know. But what follows should send chills down your spine.
“He gave her a hug and kissed her on the top of her head,” Martin said. “He’s 6’5″, so when he gives hugs, he’ll give you a big hug and kiss you right here on the top of your scalp.”
The school called it an assault, she said.
“And then they labeled it ‘sexual assault’ because of the kissing,” Martin said. “They said a kiss is considered an assault.”
The magic words, sexual assault. As Hans Bader has been pounding away for some time, the nouveau definitions of rape and sexual assault have grown so expansive that essentially any touching without prior express authorization, even an innocent kiss on the top of a woman’s head, is categorized as a sexual assault. Quick, update the sex offender registry. Off with his head.
This sort of application also is a logical argument against broad “affirmative consent” rules that require advance permission for not just sex, but also ordinary touching and kissing, and classify any failure to obtain advance permission as “sexual assault” (even if it was not against the will of the complainant at the time it occurred). “Affirmative consent” activists now want to extend such rules micromanaging commonplace interactions into the nation’s Kindergartens to cover even non-sexual contact. Sexual assault policies and laws should protect people from violence and unwanted intimate invasions, not relatively harmless activities that simply lack advance authorization.
Under any other circumstance, Brian Ferguson would be the guy that most people concerned with any degree of social justice would back up, would support. For crying out loud, the kid is austistic. He lives with his disability, but he’s trying his damnedest to make the most of his life. And yes, kids with intellectual challenges sometimes make a mistake, like thinking a person is someone he knows, a friend, who would welcome a hug and a brotherly kiss.
But to be absolutely certain that nothing that smacks of human physical contact ever happens without three days’ notice, Brian’s errant kiss falls into the rabbit hole of sexual assault. So his austism means nothing in contrast to his predatory ways.
This is an interesting potential case that illustrates how the ever-expanding definition of “sexual assault” on some college campuses apparently reaches well-meaning conduct that is not sexually-motivated at all and does not even involve intimate areas of the body, much less sex. (It may also pit broad college policies designed to comply with the Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX against broad duties to accommodate disabled students under the Rehabilitation Act and Americans with Disabilities Act).
There was a time when providing opportunity to Americans with disabilities was itself a worthy cause, a good purpose. And no doubt, that’s still the case, except when it clashes with the far more important goal of female feelings, at which point everything else is jettisoned without a moment’s hesitation. So what if Brian’s disability may have been integral to his mistake? There is no room to tolerate his kiss when the overarching need to protect women from sexual assault is at stake. Tough break, Brian, but you lose. You lose big.
The teary-eyed anecdotes used to justify why offenses so expansively defined such as sexual assault are needed to be sure that no woman is ever touched again without permission meet their match here.
Ferguson’s mother said a college dean informed her that he was suspended indefinitely and no longer welcome back.
“He cried the whole next day,” she said. “He got up for school, waited for the bus. I told him it wasn’t coming.”
Does this make you swell with pride, knowing another sexual predator has been caught and young womanhood has been protected from the vicious male? Are you pleased with yourself knowing that you made a 20-year-old autistic young man cry? Was it worth it?
Of course, there will be unintended consequences, suffering in instances where the act, the male, maybe falls shy of whatever it is you demand be intolerable. But that’s the problem, the new rules that accommodate no understanding, are so ridiculously broad and over-inclusive that they sweep in an innocent, friendly, mistaken kiss at the expense of a young man like Brian Ferguson.
But then, who really cares that some males will be sacrificed when the truly important thing is that no woman’s feelings ever be hurt? Sad male tears, right? Tell Brian how much he enjoyed male privilege, autism notwithstanding.
Update: The Waxahatchie Daily LIght reports that the young woman involved, Taylor Bruton, had nothing to do with Brian’s suspension:
“I’m nervous,” Bruton said Wednesday afternoon at Getzendaner Park as she waited to meet Martin and Ferguson for the first time. “I can’t just not say anything. I have to help make it right because it’s just not fair. I for sure want to give him a hug so that he knows he can hug me and I’m not scared of him. I want to tell him I’m sorry because if I had know the lengths this would have gone, I wouldn’t have given the statement.”
As for Navarro College, they’re reversed course in light of the national condemnation and want to pretend none of this ever happened.
Though President of Navarro College campuses in Ellis County Dr. Kenneth Martin (no relation to the student’s family), and other administrators, cannot speak on the record about student disciplinary actions, college officials released the following statement Monday:
“Navarro College values its relationships with all of our ISDs and their students. Questions regarding suspension or potential charges should be directed to the ISDs. Navarro has relayed to the Elevate program and Mr. Ferguson that he is welcome at the college.”
Grocery clerks everywhere let out a huge sigh of relief.