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FIRST-PERSON: In a land that seems far away

MCMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–Once upon a time, in a land that seems far away, bad behavior was cause for shame, remorse and repentance. In our postmodern world, where increasingly more and more people are doing what is right in their own eyes, aberrant antics are viewed as a stepping stone to fame and possible fortune. Just ask Heather Ingram and a young man known pseudonymously as “Troy Robertson.”

Three years ago, Ingram was 29 years old, involved in a committed relationship and teaching high school at Sechelt, British Columbia. Robertson was a student in Ingram’s accounting class. The two became intimately involved.

The pair conducted their illicit relationship for a lengthy period. Eventually the affair was discovered and Ingram was convicted of child exploitation. She was sentenced to 10 months of house arrest. In an effort to protect Robertson’s reputation, the judge ordered a publication ban on his identity.

Once upon a time, in a land that seems far away, the public aspect of Ingram and Robertson’s story would be over. As the headlines waned, the pair would have slipped into obscurity. It is likely they would have been relieved to be out of the scrutinizing spotlight. Shame and regret would have motivated the pair to seek solace in pursuing unassuming lives.

However, we now live in a time and place that increasingly embraces a postmodern ethic that declares right and wrong to be relative concepts. The individual determines the morality of any and all behavior. In such a world, not only are Ingram and Robertson not shamed by their behavior, they seek to capitalize on it.

Heather Ingram has written a book about her relationship. She skirts the publication ban of her teenaged lover by referring to him as Troy Robertson. The young man, whose identity is still protected by court order, is hoping to become a rap star.

“Risking it All: My Student, My Lover, My Story” is the title of Ingram’s book. A review on Amazon.com describes the book positively. It includes the following description: “Written with surprising insight and grace, this honest and moving account offers an intimate look at why a teacher would risk everything to have an affair with a student and what it means to live as a convicted criminal for engaging in a consensual relationship.”

In an interview with the National Post, Ingram was asked why she wrote the book. “Because it’s a great story,” she said. Concerning the aftermath of her relationship, she responded, “You never get over it. You integrate it.”

Once upon a time, in a land that seems far away, Heather Ingram would not only want to get over her sordid past, she would desire to get past it. However, in the postmodern here and now, she not only justifies her illicit actions, she seeks to gain from them.

The still-anonymous young man, now known as Troy Robertson, was in court recently seeking to have a judge lift the publication ban that protects his identity. The reason, according to the Vancouver Sun, “so he can cash in on the scandal.”

The young man told the court he needed to be identifiable because he is poised to build a career on publicity arising from the liaison with Ingram. He indicated he is tired of being portrayed as a victim. He maintains the he was the seducer in the relationship. One of the cuts from his first CD is titled, “Teachers Scandal,” which includes the words the “[expletive reference to the teacher] couldn’t resist my charm.”

While the actions of Ingram and Robertson are sad, they are merely symptoms of a culture beaten almost senseless by moral relativism. Once upon a time, in a land that seems far away, the only value to be found in Ingram and Robertson’s sordid tale would be in how not to live your life. However, in the postmodern here and now there is a lucrative market for bad behavior. Sex and scandal sell, and sell well. Actions that once resulted in shame and reproach are now stepping stones to fame and possible fortune.
Boggs is pastor of Valley Baptist Church, McMinnville, Ore.

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  • Kelly Boggs