Not simple PC
I have followed with interest the recent opinion pieces on student attitudes toward same-sex marriage. As always, pleas for tolerance mingle with dislike of “political correctness.” The debate goes on.
Welcome to my world: I’m one of GW’s few “out,” lesbian professors. According to my student evaluations, I’m a good professor and well-liked. I’m out to my students so that more of you can see what a hardworking lesbian scholar looks like. So, how does it feel when GW students casually debate whether or not I merit equal rights as a citizen?
It fascinates me. Folks, I may have the power to grade your papers for our few semesters together, but for the rest of your adult lives in the real world, you, as voters, can choose to grant or deny me the very privileges you enjoy yourselves.
I can hope that because you have seen my service to higher learning in our University community, you’ll vote me your equal – not your inferior. It’s up to you, the majority, to act with justice during this unique era of history, much as white Americans were tested during the first decades of civil rights change. The issue is power, not political correctness.
-Bonnie Morris, Ph.D. Women’s Studies Program
Not so fast
Sometimes I have to wonder what country it is that I am living in and what decade it is. From the opinions page of Monday’s Hatchet: “Some people simply cannot accept or justify the legitimacy of same-sex marriages (among other issues). Whether or not this is right is entirely beside the point.” (“Freedom of speech,” p.4) But isn’t this exactly the point?
There was a time, not so long ago, when some people simply could not accept or justify blacks and whites eating in the same restaurant or drinking from the same water fountain. There was a time, not so long ago, when some people simply could not accept or justify allowing women the right to vote. There was a time, not so long ago, when we locked Japanese citizens in internment camps in California simply because they were Japanese.
American history is fraught with examples of self-serving interests discriminating against minority populations for one reason or another. Today, most Americans find these practices abhorrent. They are sources of national shame, or they should be.
Surely in 1998, in the United States of America, land of the free, it would be the ultimate hypocrisy for us to celebrate the social progress America has made with regard to these other social minorities while openly discriminating against homosexuals.
Whatever the context was of what was said is not important. We all have the right to speak our minds, but conventional wisdom suggests that when doing so, one should know what they are talking about and at least attempt to not come across like an ignorant, uneducated bigot.
I am a GW alumnus and I attended the men’s basketball game against St. Bonaventure Feb. 28 at the Smith Center. At halftime, there was a ceremony recognizing the scholar-athletes who had made the dean’s list. While the names of these students were being called out and they were coming down to the court, a message was flashing on the scoreboard. The message included the word “Congratulations” misspelled as “Congradulations.”
I was embarrassed to think that the scholar-athletes on the floor, who presumably know how to spell, saw this error in a message intended to honor them and communicate their achievement to the audience.
I hope in the future that someone will proofread such messages before everyone can see them.
-Barry ChristopherB.A. 1980, English literature and political science