Right back at the very start of The Reprobate, we wrote about the firing of a university professor who was moonlighting – entirely legally – as a porn star. It seems that things haven’t improved much in the education world when it comes to moralising judgement, as news has emerged today that school teacher Christian Webb has lost his job after being outed as MC Devvo, a comedic foul-mouthed rapper in the Kunt and the Gang style. Devvo was created over a decade ago by Webb and animator and Salad Fingers auteur David Firth as a spoof of scallies and chavs, and is clearly designed as satire.
Webb was fired from his job at Thorn King Edwards Primary School back in December, but the news has only just become public thanks to blabbermouthed parents. He’d worked at the school for four years, apparently without complaint, before his extra-curricular activities were discovered.
Now, you might argue that a rapper who sings about “gettin high”, and “fuck ’em while they’re young” and has lyrics like “have a can of Kestrel an’ I’ll kick me girlfriend’s head in” is not the sort of man you want teaching impressionable youngsters, and if he was mouthing off these words – which, depressingly, we have to continually point out are SATIRE – in the class room, fair enough. But clearly, he was keeping his two personas quite separate and the very fact that it took four years for his dark secret to come out – and MC Devvo had been around since 2007 at least – suggests that it was not a problem. In fact, one parent is quoted in The Sun as saying “everyone said he was brilliant but you wouldn’t want Ali G as you kid’s teacher.” Well, no. But the kid’s didn’t have MC Devvo as their teacher, did they, they had Christian Webb, and I imagine that those were two very different things. And it’s hard to see too many primary school kids seeking out his videos on YouTube (and if they were, where were the parents? Take some responsibility for bringing up your kids, please). And what’s even worse is the fact that Webb had (in character) announced his retirement from his music and comedy career when he became a teacher, had shut down his social media and website and wiped his YouTube (much to the dismay of his fans, who you can still find online bemoaning his disappearance). Of course, nothing goes away completely once it exists, but as we’ve said before, it seems especially nasty to punish someone over their past.
To suggest that teachers should not have lives outside school, and should not be able to say anything that you wouldn’t want your kids hearing in their private lives seems to me to be opening a rather large can of worms. Where do we draw the line? Having been a porn star or a foul mouthed rapper, or having been an actor who played the odd unsavoury role, or having political beliefs that are unfashionable, or going out on a saturday night to get pissed or laid? Maybe we should be firing all the teachers who simply enjoy porn or cheerfully offensive satire in the privacy of their own home, just to be safe. But surely it’s what they do in the classroom – and how well they relate to their students – that ultimately matters, and moralising over-reactions like this are an embarrassment all round.