LTE: "Tolerance Is A Two-Way Street": Respect Anderson's Right To Speak
In Response To The 9/24/13 'Gavel' Editorial Entitled "A Case Against A Case Against Gay Marriage"
Published: Thursday, September 26, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 26, 2013 12:09
Welcome to the Letter to the Editor that should not have to be written at Boston College.
Yes, we all know that it is 2013. Contrary to popular belief, or perhaps “progressive belief” to be specific, it is shocking to some in our community that we’re still engaging in a debate over gay marriage. This conversation intensified when a well-respected marriage scholar, Ryan Anderson, was invited to BC to make the case for traditional marriage. While some encouraged Mr. Anderson’s visit, others turned a cold shoulder.
An editorial recently published by The Gavel was particularly hostile to Mr. Anderson’s visit. In fact, Ryan Anderson himself tweeted the article slapping on a snarky “stay classy Boston College.” I was embarrassed for my school. How could students of our reputable institution come across as so narrow-minded?
Those of us that support traditional marriage are in the minority at BC, but the uproar over Mr. Anderson’s visit should be alarming to all BC students—even our GLBTQ friends. Where I’m from, this issue is simply not discussed. My conservative comfort zone does not extend to the Heights. I embrace that. It is a blessing to attend an institution willing to invite characters from all walks of life. I have come to learn that divisive issues can impact us in two ways: we can let them divide us or we can let them foster healthy debate.
This past summer I was fortunate enough to give a speech at Eagle Forum Collegians Summit, a conference for conservative legislators, activists, and students. The eloquent man who spoke before me not only wooed the crowd, but he made sense of all the complexities surrounding gay marriage. That man was none other than Ryan Anderson.
I take issue with some of the dialogue surrounding Mr. Anderson’s visit. BC is a Catholic, Jesuit institution and it is not surprising that they have abided by Church teaching surrounding the marriage issue. I understand that this is hard. It saddens me to think that our school is not one, united body. But welcome to the real world—this isn’t Mean Girls and baking a cake won’t make us all friends.
It angers me that people toss around loaded words like “bigot” due to a difference of opinion. It is insulting to constantly belabor the (incorrect) notion that supporting traditional marriage is “obsolete.” Free speech is a gift. In fact, it is probably the only “free” thing you’ll get around here. It troubles me that some in the community want to divide us on polemic issues like gay marriage. Inviting speakers like Mr. Anderson is what BC is all about. “Ever to excel!” How can we make progress if we don’t have an open dialogue?
I wish some of our peers at The Gavel shared this belief. It is imprudent—and unprofessional to say the least—to let a difference of opinion lead you to issue vengeful statements about Ryan Anderson’s unborn children. I also ask people who have taken up similar tones to consider this: tolerance is a two-way street. I accept that my views can come across as hurtful, but I welcome discussion.
Mr. Anderson’s visit is not aimed to offend anyone. He is a scholar, not a hate-monger. The goal of Ryan Anderson’s presentation is to educate. This may seem shocking to some, but the purpose of these four years is to learn and grow. How can we develop as young men and women for others if we don’t listen to opposing opinions?
This isn’t about a fight. We are one university that is made up of many parts. If you want to make this about “us” versus “them” you are at the wrong school. Shame on you if you are so simpleminded that you can’t embrace differences of opinion. I applaud Mr. Anderson for coming to BC and I encourage you to listen to him speak.
I’m proud of my beliefs and values—they’ve shaped who I am. I do not expect everyone to embrace them though. Here’s what I expect: respect. Let us all respect one another and our differences. We are BC.