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Friday, November 10, 2006

The DT's poor excuse for legitimizing homophobia

Dear Editor,
The campus community, particularly gay students and staff, deserve an apology for the hate mongering that the Daily Trojan, with its lame defense of "the marketplace of ideas," has inflicted upon us.

I cannot believe the audacity and harm imposed upon us by the Daily Trojan when the editors decided, in the name of a "free press," to print bigoted hate diatribes in the letters to the editor on Thursday. To add insult to injury, Friday's editorial defends that poor decision, arguing that it is legitimate to attack gays since millions of Americans are in their estimations anti-gay. Since many Americans consider a sexual orientation other than heterosexual as immoral, the Daily Trojan argues, it is just fine if a student writes that a gay man’s “lifestyle is sinful, unhealthy and unnatural.” Preposterous!

Should popular views determine morality? Perhaps we should turn to the Three-Fifths Compromise, which democratically deemed Black Americans subhuman, or why not return to slavery altogether? Better yet, let’s take pride in Germany’s painfully democratic pre-Nazi Weimar Republic! Millions of Germans at that time gave Hitler and his National Socialist German Workers Party the green light to his assault on Jews, disabled people, gays, communists, and others. Heck, Eugene “Bull” Connor’s use of fire hoses in Alabama in the sixties to enforce the laws of racial segregation was legitimate, wasn’t it? Legal at the time? Perhaps. Moral? Unquestionably not. Eventually we figured out that those laws were immoral.

The Daily Trojan has made a grave error when it writes, "if we were to receive letters from a far-out neo-Nazi group or white supremacist group, the case might be different." Why? What if it isn't such “a far-out neo-Nazi group,” but rather from students sympathetic with neo-Nazi rhetoric? I doubt that many neo-Nazis would disagree with what was printed. The distinction is perhaps legal, but most certainly not moral. Either print the neo-Nazi letters (not my first choice), or stop printing ANY letters that make large segments of students feel unsafe. Freedom of the press does not give the press the right to victimize huge segments of our campus community, especially one which has received the institutional support of the university as the GLBTA alliance has. I am proud of our university’s administration for its deliberate efforts to ensure that underrepresented voices are heard, whether Black, lesbian, latino, or women.

Jews are particularly sensitive to this issue and to genocide; we are taught not to “oppress the stranger," out of sympathy from our own experience of bigotry as strangers and minorities in Egypt, in Nazi Germany, and even in America. As a Rabbi, I find it particularly disgusting that religion was used in one of the letters to express hatred toward a so-called “homosexual movement.” USC’s gay and lesbian students and staff certainly feel more like strangers or worse on this campus than ever before, thanks to the Trojan’s willingness to tolerate intolerance. You owe all of us, most importantly gays and lesbians, a heartfelt apology.


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