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I realize that back pages of a newspaper generally function as a public forum for different points of view.
Some issues are very complicated such that a 300-400 word response does not fully do the subject justice. Other topics are too value-laden, too dense for easy summation.
Last week’s letter by Michael Butler in defense of traditional marriage is neither sufficiently logical to be a rational rebuttal, nor passionately ideological enough to qualify as the pamphlet of a true-believer.
Instead Butler successfully plunges straight into the blackest depths of the mindless chasm between rationality and faith, doing neither viewpoint an iota of justice while simultaneously muddling the reader’s understanding of the issue.
In a sense, his writing qualifies as a major accomplishment in obfuscation and sophistry.
The frustration comes from his near grasp of key rhetorical points. Yes, “equal rights are a social justice issue.” For sure, equal rights may also be considered, indirectly, a religious issue to some.
However, Butler drops the stupidity piledriver brutally and repeatedly thereafter. Simply positing the latter point as a point for discussion does not mean that religiously-based viewpoints have as much weight as secular.
The question is not “whose perspective has more weight in this argument?”, but rather “what is the legal rationale behind denying marriage equality?”
Hopefully Butler may learn to differentiate between arguments of belief and those of rhetorical value, starting with Philosophy 120, Introduction to Logic.
At the same time, how can Butler, ostensibly a bright young student with a semblance of historical perspective, write or speak seriously that the gay community has never been unfairly oppressed?
Homosexuals were put to death throughout early American history. Sodomy, and by association homosexual sexual activity, was criminal in some states throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries, until the Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003.
The federal government added perceived or real sexual orientation to its list of protected attributes with the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009 to prevent and dissuade future hate crimes against non-straight individuals.
As a point of fact-checking, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures: 13 states and the District of Columbia offer either same sex marriage, civil union or broad benefits for domestic partnerships; 4 states offer limited domestic partnership benefits.
Also, the federal government recognizes marriage not because its promotes sexual reproduction but rather because of the associated legal rights and responsibilities.
To say that government should not waste resources recognizing same sex marriages because they do not contribute to the expansion of society is the same as implying that infertility or the choice to not reproduce is, bizarrely enough, wasteful and by extension valueless to the nation at large.
Differing opinions are both normal and healthy to the debate over social and legal values, and I would never begrudge any respectful, rational person that difference.
However, to couch an ideologically-motivated attempt at persuasion in the clothing of dispassionate rationalism, concurrently misrepresenting the opposite opinion, is both monstrously disrespectful and a fallaciously harmful means of persuasion.
To proffer it for the consumption of the community constitutes, at best, a severe lack of judgement.
I hope that in the coming years Butler will polish those cognitive and persuasive skills by taking some logically and ideologically challenging classes and hopefully visit the OUTsource or Gender and Women Studies department for further edification.
Andrew Stith is a political science senior. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.