CSUN professor removes Thailand sex tourism content from website after community indignation
Photo Credit: Krista Daly / Staff Reporter
Krista Daly and Kimberly Krieger Staff Reporters
Published April 25, 2010
Under pressure from the CSUN community, tenured economics professor Kenneth Ng removed content from his website that focused on sex-tourism in Thailand.Provost Harry Hellenbrand released a statement Friday saying that Ng, after considering the “deleterious effect it had on the university’s reputation not because he considered the subject matter and content as unsuitable for public discourse, public discussion, or public debate about this topic,” agreed to remove his site Bigbabykenny.com.
“I think he realized he’s putting the university in an awkward position,” Hellenbrand said.
Ng was reluctant to take down his website, Hellenbrand added, but also took the opinions of fellow staff and students into consideration when making his decision.
“We expect that they (teachers) act at a higher level than their profession requires,” Hellenbrand said. “There’s a difference between professional responsibility and what’s morally correct.”
The website now details the dispute and links to stories about the issue which came to light last week when the Daily News broke the story about Ng.
The Daily News article reported information on Ng’s website describing how to navigate the “Thailand girl scene” and the standard by which a university holds professors and their off-campus activities.
While some of the articles in Ng’s website included restaurant and bar reviews, others detailed how to negotiate a bar fine or a price to spend the night with a Thai woman.
“When you go to these bars, it is not so much about how you get (Thai women) to go on a bar fine,” Ng said. “It is a question of when you’re negotiating on the fine, how do you negotiate.”
Although Ng said his website’s intention was not to promote prostitution in Thailand, he said the website does provide information about the topic.
“There are discussions of bar fines, go-go bars and even certain areas of Bangkok where there is just a street where girls wait to be picked up,” Ng said.
When asked about the content on his site, Ng said that it was not about sex tourism, but rather about dating in Thailand. Ng also added that the site accurately depicts life in a third-world country.
“When you’re reading the blog about Thailand, you’re reading about a third world country where the feminist revolution has not happened,” Ng added.
After students and faculty discovered that their colleague had this website, they immediately voiced their opinions and outrage through social media, online news sites and blogs.
A Facebook group called “Cal State Northridge Administration: Sex Trafficking/Tourism is Illegal” formed this week. The creator, associate professor John Foubert of Oklahoma State University, invited students, faculty and anyone interested in shutting the website down to join and take action.
“I hear about many outlandish things, but every once in awhile I hear about something so sickening and outright crazy that I’m compelled to mobilize people to shed the bright light of the public eye on an issue to galvanize support for change,” said Foubert, who found out about the issue on a news alert on Facebook.
Foubert, who specializes on research about pornography, sexual assault and sex-trafficking, said professors have a special responsibility to uphold certain standards of behavior.
“It is one thing to talk about the benefits and liabilities of sex tourism,” Foubert added. “It is quite another to promote it and help facilitate it. Professor Ng is helping to promote and facilitate it. That crosses the line.”
In the discussion board of the group, members posted their letters to university officials voicing their opinions.
A petition started on the website change.org that asked their members to e-mail CSUN President Jolene Koester, with a request to “instruct Mr. Ng to take down his website, upon penalty of dismissal from his position. Doing so would be taking a stand for the protection of women and girls around the world.”
The Gender and Women’s Studies (GWS) department and the Asian American Studies (AAS) department wrote a joint statement when they learned about the website, which called on the administration to condemn Ng’s activities as those that violate the values and principles of the university.
GWS and AAS are urging students and faculty to get involved in organizations that help to end all forms of human abuse, including the sexual trafficking of women across borders and the mistreatment of young women and children as sexual objects.
Since some content on the website has been taken down, GWS and AAS updated their statement to convey that the issue is not over.
“Professor Ng’s website was only a symptom of larger problems related to the exploitation and trafficking of women and children in the sex tourism trade. We need to continue this discussion concerning the oppressive realities of sexual slavery that many women in the brothels of Thailand and elsewhere suffer.”