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What lurks in the hearts of men


Arizona Daily Wildcat

By Dan Cassino
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
November 2, 1999
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In our modern, seemingly tolerant society, it is sometimes easy to forget that bigotry still exists. Throughout the last few weeks, I was confronted with a sad truth: hatred lives just around the corner.

In the wake of an article written by John Ward dealing with "Coming Out Week," and the ramifications it has on society, the Arizona Daily Wildcat was flooded with letters. Most of those who wrote in misinterpreted his column as being against homosexuality itself.

As far as I was concerned, the point of the column was that while homosexuality is neither good nor bad, loud, public demonstrations of gay pride are not necessarily good. I don't particularly agree with this point of view, but I can appreciate it as a point of view that a reasonable person might hold. Over a series of conferences with the writer, the article was solidified into a clear, strong piece.

About a week after the column ran, the lesson began. A man came in and identified himself as a letter writer and wanted to know why his letter had not run. After speaking with him, I had no idea why I hadn't printed his letter.

So I looked through the reams of letters, both hard copy and e-mail, that had come in response to the article. And, soon, I found it.

When I spoke to this visitor, I had no idea the kind of hatred that he was advocating. His letter had not been printed for a good reason.

Often, people say that they want to advocate controversial views in the interests of creating dialogue on the issue. However, there is a limit.

He said that homosexuality was a perversion, like zoophilia or pedophilia. He said that many in the campus community could see the link between homosexuals and other deviants, and the Wildcat simply refused to acknowledge the connection. He said that real men, with testosterone and hair on their chest, hate gays. Further, he asked for a guest column to express his views where they would be given more credence.

My first impulse was to print parts of his letter, to show the spelling and grammar mistakes, to demonstrate to the community the sort of idiocy that these points of view require. In short, I wanted to humiliate him. But that, too, would be wrong.

I support his right to have his opinions and to express them. As a journalist, I have no choice but to do so. We should protect his rights in the same way that we protect the rights of Bible Jim to shout at students on the mall. However, that does not mean that he has the right to use the Wildcat, or any publication, as a sounding board for his ideas. He has the right to hate, and, sadly, we must protect this right. That does not, however, mean that we should help him.

It doesn't matter who this person was. And that is the most frightening part. He could be anyone you see on the mall. For some reason, we always assume that people who have such hate in their hearts will look different, somehow. Just as people who are homosexual or have AIDS look like anyone else, so do the people who hate them.

Homosexuality is not a perversion. It is something that some people are. People are not born as perversions, they make themselves perversions through hate. Fear and rage have made him into the exact thing that he was railing against.

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