Right Column, Wrong Response

Vanessa Persico

Elsewhere in this section, my co-editor and I defend ourselves and our policies as Maroon-News Editors-in-Chief. But after everything I have read and seen this week, I am not satisfied with writing in my capacity as Editor-in-Chief. I want to write in my capacity as a Colgate senior who has interacted for almost three and a half years with the critical analysis of ideas at a high level, as someone who has struggled and watched close friends struggle with questions of sexuality in today’s still-prejudiced world and as someone who almost never agrees with Olivia Offner.

Olivia’s “Being Right” column last week, “Love Is Not Enough,” expressed some sentiments which, predictably, I disagreed with. For example, my gut reaction to the passing of Prop 8 is sadness and indignation. Also, I don’t think that the majority of students on our campus who oppose Prop 8 and its ilk do so because of “apathy.”?On a rhetorical, structural level, I think that she could have made it clearer that she was writing from a purely legal perspective, and I think the references to “the right to marry a member of the opposite sex” and to family as “the foundation of society” were a little pointless. Most of all, I think that she underestimated the pain to which so many have been subjected by people who, unlike her, do consider the loving, consensual activities of a same-sex couple as comparable to bestiality.

However, I have to stand up and say to everyone who now sees Olivia as a closed-minded/dogmatic/hateful/homophobic/bigoted/oppressive/apathetic/blinded/stupid person: read the article again.

Olivia’s article is not hate speech. The crux of the argument is that the case to legalize same-sex marriage proves too much: that if the institution of marriage were broadened to include marriage between two men or two women, then there would be no real reason not to broaden it to include marriage between more than two people. If we strive for equality under the law, then to stipulate monogamy in the case of three, four, or seven consenting adults would be as arbitrary as stipulating that only men could marry women, or that only white people could marry white people (which some states did stipulate up until too recently). Naturally, there are logical reasons why incest, bestiality and pedophilia would be excluded from any broadened definition: consent or public health, off the top of my head.

Though I can’t believe that I have to write such a defense before my fellow Colgate students, whom I typically find so scrutinizing and bright, as I said before, I have read and heard enough this week to know that this is necessary. The worst accusation that I could hurl at Olivia at this point is that she was perhaps less than politic in the way she expressed her argument. But the day that someone with the temerity to put their name on a well-reasoned, unpopular viewpoint is misunderstood and harangued as much as Olivia has been is a sad, disappointing day for any community where such a thing happens.

If you find hate and intolerance somewhere between the lines of that column, I assure you that it’s only the hate and the intolerance in your own eyes. This intolerance is probably borne of injury, but it is no less toxic than any other kind. It has blinded you to the intentions of a writer who has at least one good point, causing you to attack her character rather than countering her arguments.