There are any number of things wrong with Steve’s complaints about an art show at the College of William and Mary. We could complain, for instance, that his criticism of the show on the basis of who the performers are (people who have been sex workers at some point) rather than on the basis of what the show is. We could even point out that students who attend the show and have their preconceptions challenged might even learn something valuable.
But for the moment, I want to focus on Steve’s claim that:
Thomas Jefferson … seemed to do okay for himself without a curriculum or extracurricular events involving sex workers.
Whether we consider Sally Hemings a prostitute is a fine line, but it’s hard to argue that she wasn’t a sex worker in some meaningful sense. Her son Madison referred to her as a concubine, as Jefferson’s concubine. What other dalliances he had while living in France, or in his youth, we do not know. We know of many flirtatious letters to married women, but we do not know that they were consummated.
Whatever extracurricular events Jefferson enjoyed with sex workers, it did not affect his writing, or probably his philosophy. Neither should the professional history of the members of the Sex Workers’ Art Show be used as the sole basis for judging their performances.
Steve writes “What, exactly, a sex workers’ art show has to do with a well-rounded education is beyond me.” The show’s webpage explains that “the show is an eye-popping evening of visual and performance art created by people who work in the sex industry to dispel the myth that they are anything short of artists, innovators and geniuses!” Perhaps even Steve could learn something by attending.