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Judge dismisses lawsuit over way Harvard cut short a diatribe about Jewish circumcision; issue wasn't antisemitism, but guy's onstage nudity

A federal judge ruled yesterday that Harvard University was within its rights to turn up the lights in Sanders Theater and end an employee's performance while he was nude and having intercourse with a sex doll on stage and a video played showing him ejaculating in the doll's mouth, all somehow connected to his argument that Jewish circumcision is evil.

US District Court Judge Richard Stearns ruled that Eric Clopper, at the time a Harvard IT worker who had rented the theater for a night, had no case: Harvard didn't interfere with his First Amendment rights because it was not acting on behalf of any government entity to end his performance before he could deliver his "final message" and he showed no proof that Harvard and the Harvard Crimson, which wrote about the case, had engaged in any sort of conspiracy, let alone one controlled by the Jews, to squelch him.

Harvard's subsequent decision to fire him - which meant he could no longer get into a Harvard IT graduate program - was also legal because he had an "at will" contract, which meant the school could fire him over the performance, during which he threw dollar bills at the audience and yelled that the Jews "can keep their money."

Stearns wrote he agreed with Harvard the issue was not Clopper's feelings about circumcision and the Jews - Clopper claims he wasn't being antisemitic because he's a Jew himself - so much as it was his decision to disregard theater management's warnings about nudity and show up on stage naked towards the end of his two-hour diatribe about the religious practice.

Even assuming arguendo that plaintiff's nude performance is entitled to some measure of protection under the First Amendment (which the court doubts), plaintiff nonetheless has failed to state a claim for relief under federal or state law. The Complaint does not, for example, allege that Harvard acted under color of state law, as required by the Federal Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. s. 1983; nor does it plausibly suggest that Harvard used threats, intimidation, or coercion to achieve any alleged interference with his rights, as required by the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act, M.G.L. ch. 12, ss. 11H, 11I.

The court also dismisses plaintiff's contract-based claims ... Plaintiff does not identify any provision in the Sanders Theatre contract entitling him to perform nude. Indeed, he appears to concede that the Sanders Theatre contract contains a provision expressly prohibiting nudity in performances. He also does not explain how his termination, even if premised on the content of his performance, breached any employment agreement with the university. Plaintiff, after all, was an at-will employee and, subject to certain exceptions which plaintiff does not assert here, could be terminated at any time "for almost any reason or for no reason at all." See Jackson v. Action for Bos. Cmty. Dev., Inc., 403 Mass. 8, 9 (1988).

In its explanation for seeking dismissal, Harvard said Sanders Theatre management was only seeking to comply with a Cambridge city ordinance banning nude performances. Harvard said managers felt compelled to warn Clopper before the performance after seeing he had produced a poster advertising the show that included a photo of him naked, but with a "censor bar" covering his genitals, and after learning he had advertised the play by having people walked around Harvard Yard in "inflatable penis costumes."

Harvard claimed Clopper had said before the show that he would abide by the ban.

As part of its arguments, Harvard submitted video of the performance to the court. However, Stearns agreed with the school to seal the submission from the public because, as Harvard argued, "the video files contain nudity and potentially obscene matter that are not appropriate for filing on the public docket."

Stearns did not dismiss Clopper's suit against the Crimson; Clopper has until Oct. 26 to argue against the paper's motion to have his case against it thrown out as well.



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clever Clopper cloned his clapper? (Apologies to Johnnie Carson).

for most embarrassing associate.

MIT has Shiva but then Harvard has this individual. A real battle for the ages between people who seem to be need someone in their life to say 'are you sure this is the best use of your time?'


total of four degrees, whereas Harvard merely hired this clearly unbalanced creature as an IT hump.


Dr Mr. Email did earn those degrees through, presumably, his academic merits. Harvard just hired a lunatic* without seemingly any due diligence.



companies will put up with a loon with skills. "He can fix the router; never mind the amateur gonzo porn he produces in his spare time."




I wish to review the text of the artist’s statement before (okay, AFTER) I leap to judgment.
I didn’t actually witness the performance myself. I like how he’s keeping the publicity for the piece going. There are P.R. tactics to be learned from our Dear Leader and expounded upon.

But I’m more concerned with the announcement and what was disclosed or not about the presentation’s “educational material about masturbation” slideshow and context. Sex Doll Romps to me just seem stupid and boring. Not a good closer.

If only his dead boss (R.I.P., Mr. Hammond) could have provided more witness testimony.
If only he gets his chance to design, build, and program sexbots, maybe he could provide a lot of needed jobs. Other than the jobs he portrayed with his video, that is. I hope he sells the rights to the story and can attend school without a focus on the work and not so much on genital mutilation.

i actually applied for an info systems job at harvard once upon a time... i couldve been famous.


Aren't you guys forgetting that Harvard Law professor.


My prof is makes your prof look almost sane. It's the difference between the guy who runs around naked in the middle of the woods and the guy who discusses his love of running around naked in the middle of the woods in an interview, then sues the people who wrote the article based on the interview he gave.


right in the head.


If you need a bris in Greater Boston, don’t go with the cheap option

It’s usually a rip-off.


So old, so corny - but it did make me irl lol, and these days that’s a blessing.


LOL and wince awkwardly at the same time. Wincing at the bad joke *and* at the underlying premise at the same time.

This feels like a Mr. Show sketch, matter of fact, I would love to see this reenacted with David Cross playing this guy arguing his point of view in court against Bob Odenkirk.


Judge dismisses lawsuit over way Harvard cut short a diatribe about Jewish circumcision

Nine comments and no one's high-fived Adam on this pun?


It's a good pun, I guess I was just unable to get past what a dick this guy is.


No need to be snippy about this.


If you like that joke, you can leave Adam a tip here: https://www.universalhub.com/donation


For skin, for skin, fired just for showing some skin, forsooth.


How is Cambridge allowed to ban all nudity in artistic performances? Does this mean a show like Hair is banned in Cambridge? Isn't theater protected by the First Amendment unless it's considered obscene?

I can see why Harvard can ban an awful "show" like this, but I don't see why Cambridge could.


even if it might not survive a sufficiently high-up court challenge.

For all the hype over the years, the nudity in Hair (as originally staged) lasts a very very short time, just at the end of the closing song of the first act ("Where Do I Go?"). And in any case, it doesn't involve any kind of simulated sexual play as it was in this show we're talking about.

I do remember a touring production in the early 90's that played Boston (the Colonial, I think) that had some voice-overs introducing Act II - one of them was a man's voice saying, "honey - we've seen the nude scene - can we go home now?" :-)

Wasn't there a production of Hair at the Hasty Pudding sometime back in the day?

How many people were in the audience.



This story and the one about Wonderbar reminds me of a Meatmen show at Bunratty's show, in which a member of the Meatmen's crew acted out a song about a baker...

This story and the one about Wonderbar reminds me of a Meatmen show at Bunratty's show, in which a member of the Meatmen's crew acted out a song about a baker...

What sort of baker? An apprentice baker, a journeyman baker, or a master baker?




the weirdest shit I have read...anywhere, ever.

His Boston lawyer today filed for a stay so that he can make arguments why Harvard's motion to dismiss, which the judge used as the basis for his ruling, is just wrong. The lawyer said he failed to make the arguments in time for the judge to make his decision because he was "temporarily incapacitated due to two concurrent serious unanticipated illnesses."

Attorney Michael Vigorito asked the judge to give him until Oct. 26 to make his arguments - the same date by which he was given to make similar arguments against dismissing the suit against the other defendant, the Harvard Crimson.