“Jeffrey Zoomin’ Lubin’ Toobin”

Toobin caught masterbating on a Zoom call

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Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Reports surfaced earlier this week regarding Jeffrey Toobin’s, legal analyst for CNN and staff writer for The New Yorker, sexual act during a work meeting.

CNN downplayed the situation by claiming Toobin had allegedly accidentally “exposed himself” on the video call because he thought he had turned the camera off. The phrasing, at least in my mind, sounded like he tried to turn off the camera to change and exposed himself for a moment.

However, this was not the case. Subsequent news articles explained that Toobin was caught masterbating while watching another video during the meeting. Toobin had lowered the camera and began touching himself once the Zoom meeting had dispersed into breakout rooms.

Responding to the situation, Toobin explained to Vice, “I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera. I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers.

“I thought I had muted the Zoom video. I thought no one on the Zoom call could see me,” he said.

The ramifications: a suspension from The New Yorker and an investigation. He also took personal leave from CNN. To me, these do not seem like the proper consequences.

Although I am no expert in obscenity law, I feel like Justice Potter Stewart’s words ring true here, “I’ll know obscenity when I see it.” Indecent exposure charges would require intention behind Toobin’s actions, but it does not seem like he was aware others could see him. Still, why did he take this risk? This should qualify, in my opinion, as a form of sexual harassment if nothing else, considering his co-workers did not consent to seeing him perform a sexual act.

There have been mixed responses to Toobin’s sexual conduct. Some come in the form of humorous tweets, such as this:

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Others were more defensive in their responses, for example this column from The New York Daily News claiming that people are just uncomfortable with masterbation and that is why they are reacting in a negative manner.

I had a good laugh from some of the funny tweets, but the defensive articles gave me pause. Perhaps the topic of masterbation is taboo, but Toobin’s actions transcend people’s embarrassment about masterbation.

Personally, I’m not one to cancel people, but Toobin should have known better then to even risk the possibility of accidentally exposing himself to his co-workers. It’s lewd. It’s wrong. He should face the consequences of his actions.

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