Monday, November 22, 2010

Warrior Columnist Asks: “What Makes the LGBT Community Better Than Me?”

From The Warrior, a column by Joseph Dobbs, about the fact (first reported here) that lesbian activist and college administrator Ronni Sanlo visited Marquette to “consult” with the Office of Student Affairs.

Her visit was apparently intended to be a secret. No notice went out to faculty, nor students, nor to others in the University community. Rather, only narrow group of gays, lesbians and liberal “allies” knew about the visit.

At least not until we “outed” the entire affair here.
Out of all the issues that are sticking their hands up shouting “Me sir, me!” at the university we call Marquette, one of the loudest and most resonant is that of the whole different sexuality thing. But before we call on Lindsay George Beau Tracy, we have to remember something important: Marquette University is a Catholic school and is stuck that way. Nobody is forced to come here and nobody is forced to stay. While celebrating 100 Years of Women All Over Campus was quite a hoot, I still have the funny taste of tradition in my mouth from Marquette’s 125th birthday. After all, this is a school (run by religious folk, no less!); I think the idea is that we students are the ones who are supposed to change[rather than the University changing to accomodate students]. The good news is that Marquette is quite open to giving out free hugs once your tuition check has cleared.

As reported in the Warrior blog (, Vice President of Student Affairs Chris Miller invited lesbian activist Ronni Sanlo Ed.D. as a “consultant” for an on-campus meeting October 28 and 29. If you haven’t heard of this, you’re not alone; apparently no one did. A search for Sanlo’s name brought up no results on the Marquette web page, and the invitation e-mails obtained by Warrior staff were sent to a very narrow selection of people. Furthermore, there is no mention of Sanlo’s visit in the Marquette University News Briefs, though the invitations to attend her meetings were sent out weeks before. The implication is that we hoi polloi were not welcome to attend and support Sanlo’s message, or to question its relevance to our own experience, or even to be aware that one of the “20 Powerful Lesbian Academics” named by Rachel Pepper, coordinator of LGBT studies at Yale, was visiting our humble campus with us in mind.

So, what’s going on here? Sanlo is known for her implementation of a Lavender Graduation at the University of Michigan, which, according to her, “recognizes LGBT students of all races and ethnicities and acknowledges their achievements and contributions to the university as students who survived the college experience.“ Are we going to get one of those? Are faculty and students going to get sensitivity training?

The more obvious conclusion, that Sanlo’s visit was meant to assuage concerns about LGBT sensitivity at Marquette after what happened last time the issue was brought up, sounds about right, but is clearly undermined by the restricted access.

Hopefully the few dozen people who actually got to see her all had really big epiphanies, so they can tell us all how to be better people. Whatever her per diem was, I helped pay it, so I hope we’ll get some benefit out of it.

I like having people visit the university. . . . The problem is with the secrecy. Anyone who knows anything about the history of discrimination can tell you that its most subtle and nefarious manifestation is in segregation and isolation. “Colored” drinking fountains didn’t spray acid or sharks; their crime was in teaching black people that they were different from everyone else, even that they were a contaminant. I don’t get to see Sanlo because I’m not a fifth-dan member of the Gay-Straight Alliance. My homo-fu is lacking! But why do the Illuminati get to hang out with her when it’s everyone else who needs illumination? Shouldn’t Sanlo be meeting with the people who disagree with her and using her advanced education and research to debate the merits of their position?

Making up nonsense words like “Homophobia” and hurling them at anyone who disagrees with them hasn’t exactly gotten the LGBT folks a huge number of converts. Assuming your opponent has an open mind gives rise to gentleness and friendly discussion. Assuming whoever doesn’t agree with you has a closed mind requires you to ignore them, punish them or break it open with a club. But our lovely university has an idea of Cura Personalis; breaking people’s heads open or punishing them for their views shouldn’t really be kosher, should it? . . .

The other problem with what Sanlo’s modus operandi appears to be is the whole idea behind things like Lavender Graduation. The opposite of segregation and discrimination against Group X by Group Y is not segregation and discrimination against Group Y by Group X. Everyone has to deal with terrible things happening to him; everyone has obstacles that he cannot control but must overcome regardless. LGBT students and people should not be hated or spat on, but why should be put them on a pedestal? Orphans don’t get a special graduation ceremony or commemorations, neither do the physically or mentally scarred. The difference between these examples and the LGBT crowd is, of course, that LGBTs are victims of active hatred and abuse by other people. But it’s not being hated that makes you better; it’s transcending the hatred and not returning it. Does graduating college indicate that any given LGBT student has made achievements and contributions to a degree that he or she cannot sit next to the rest of us? What do all the students who have learning disabilities think about this, that they have to work so much harder because of a condition beyond their control, only to graduate with the rest of their school? All the ones I know are proud of it, proud to have succeeded in a task they set their minds to. They aren’t ashamed to wear the same kind of mortarboard and robe; they don’t feel like they need to be separate from everyone else.

LGBT students are different. We wouldn’t need a name for them if they weren’t; we could just call them “students.” I don’t want to make them normal. I don’t want anyone to be normal; though if I ever meet anyone who is (a possibility much in doubt), I might change my mind. But their differences don’t make them stupid or clumsy or ugly. People can be crappy to them, and that’s terrible. But the university provides counseling and support, and is hardly friendly to anyone who expresses hate towards LGBTs, verbally or physically.

At the end of the day, I want this from Ronni Sanlo, Chris Miller, the LGBT community and anyone who thinks I’m wrong, stupid or inferior because of the views I have just expressed: I want you to tell me why you think I’m wrong. I want you to show me your reasons for treating LGBTs as special, separate members of our community. Tell me why the university should use my tuition money to make me think the way you do. Tell me what you think and why. Treat me as a person with intellect and emotion, without hate or anger. In return, I offer you the same.
Of course, the comments below Dobbs’ column show that his hope of being treated civilly was for naught. One poster said “It’s hard to treat you as a ‘person with intellect. . . . ’” and another “I have never read such an offensive, degrading article in the Warrior in my four years at Marquette. And that is saying something. . . It is a shame the Warrior would publish such a disrespectful and untimely article in the wake of hate crimes that led humans to think life wasn’t worth living.” And the same poster called the article “disgusting” and “insensitive.”

Note the assumption here: if you fail to embrace the gay agenda, you want gay people to commit suicide.

Finally, another poster calls the column “disgusting.”

What Dobbs has done, of course, in run full-force into campus political correctness. Nobody bothered to argue against his column, nor to identify any logical fallacies. They simply attacked with nasty, ad hominem insults.

It’s clear who the intolerant people are.

Yet Dobbs has an excellent point (a few, actually).

In the wake of the Jodi O’Brien fiasco, the University promised to initiate a “dialogue” about four concerns:
  • LGBT issues
  • “Shared governance” issues (faculty input into University decisions)
  • Academic freedom
  • the “Catholic mission” of the institution.
But of course, sponsoring “consultants” whose visits are secret, and holding secret meetings of the campus gay lobby (we are tempted to say “gay cabal”) runs entirely contrary to the idea of “dialogue.”

They suggest scheming University officials with an agenda they want to ram down people’s throats.

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