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Editorial: Successful march shows social awareness

Arizona Daily Wildcat,
February 14, 2000
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Our community ought to be proud.

When masses of people stood up in support of a worthy cause as they did in Sunday's march against hate, UA students, staff and faculty proved that they are intolerant of intolerance and will come together to defend their fellow students.

Approximately 1,000 supporters attended the march in response to last Sunday's stabbing of a 20-year-old gay UA student. The three-hour march began at a park on Fourth Avenue and Second Street and ended at the UA Mall.

While hate crimes may never be be wiped out completely, they can be met with aggressive nonviolent protest by a larger force, the entire UA community. Sunday's march proved that there is strength in numbers, that society's horrors do not have to be dealt with victims alone, but they can be healed by public outreach on a grand scale.

The attacked student, a philosophy junior, made a statement at the march that sums up the attitude of all of the march's participants.

"With all my fear, with all my sadness, I do not become a victim - I become a man," said the student. "I am a man with fear as his companion - but never as his master."

To fear such attackers would be to empower them; instead, the UA proved its fearlessness and its vigilance in opposing hate criminals.

Further proof of the UA's intolerance of hate crimes was the outpouring of shock and sympathy when the story was made known. Letters to the Wildcat expressed the anger the incident triggered. "That stabbed student did absolutely nothing to provoke an attack of any kind," wrote agriculture graduate student Patrick Leach. "And neither do I or, I'm sure, do you; so you or I might be the next recipient of someone else's 'anger.'"

The march proved that the UA is a mobilized active student community. Dozens of campus organizations, including Lesbian Avengers, PFLAG, various churches, Wingspan and others showed up to express their support. These diverse groups all expressed support for a single cause.

Such a proactive response to such a terrifying incident proves that the UA is a socially conscious and socially active campus. While morality pushers and extremists continue to oppress homosexuals and deny them their rights in the highest parts of American government, the UA community proved its ability to think rationally and in good conscience.

Social healing of social wounds is what Sunday's march was all about. An open mic allowed attendees to share their experiences with intolerance, and a written log was passed around in which participants described hate they had dealt with in their lives. The log will be passed on to legislators who will better understand the predicament of so many gay people, and will hopefully promote more education regarding tolerance toward gay issues.

While the stabbing was an unnecessary tragedy, the UA's reaction to it has been invaluable. Hopefully, the public outcry it generated will lead to greater acceptance and less hate.

This editorial represents the collaborative stance of the Arizona Daily Wildcat Opinions Board.

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