Duke Freshmen Assigned Graphic Sexual Novels – Here’s Why One Student Refused To Read It

Duke Freshmen Assigned Graphic Sexual Novels – Here’s Why One Student Refused To Read It August 31, 2015
As a UK fan, I’ll take any opportunity to criticize Duke…  and the university has given us a good reason to shake our heads.

A Duke incoming freshman, Brian Grasso, was given a graphic novel assignment for incoming freshman which included “cartoon drawings of a woman masturbating and multiple women engaging in oral sex.”  He refused to read it, saying it violated his faith.  He was subsequently mocked in the media and online for his stance. But this brave freshman had the last and best word.  Showing true tolerance he wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post, he wrote:

My choice had nothing to do with the ideas presented. I’m not opposed to reading memoirs written by LGBTQ individuals or stories containing suicide. I’m not even opposed to reading Freud, Marx or Darwin. I know that I’ll have to grapple with ideas I don’t agree with, even ideas that I find immoral.

But in the Bible, Jesus forbids his followers from exposing themselves to anything pornographic. “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” he says in Matthew 5:28-29. “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.” This theme is reiterated by Paul who warns, “flee from sexual immorality.” […]

I don’t believe my position will limit my exposure to essential lessons in history, philosophy or literature. I assume that having to view graphic images of sex for a class will be rare. If it does happen, I will avoid any titillating content and encourage like-minded students to do the same. And I believe professors should warn me about such material, not because I might consider them offensive or discomforting, but because I consider it immoral.

Showing who is truly arguing for open-mindedness, he wrote:

I recognize, of course, that Christians on campus and throughout the country have an important responsibility, too. We need to learn how to dialogue across differences. Over the past couple of days, I have received many encouraging messages from a new friend, who considers herself bisexual and a Buddhist. She and I became friends after she saw my Facebook post. Instead of criticizing me, she asked me to explain my beliefs. I, in turn, asked her to explain the Buddhist perspective on sexuality. This is how diversity is supposed to work. We each shared our perspective, and walked away from the conversation with a deeper understanding and compassion for each other. That is what college is really about.

Here’s the thing, Duke.  When was the last time you assigned a significant conservative book?  One that espoused the wisdom of traditional morality?



I understand that students will be exposed to things that make them feel uncomfortable.  But for students at most universities, the discomfort only runs one way.

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