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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The Gay Perspective: In defense of the accused

Published: February 29, 2008
Section: Opinions

I can no longer hold my piece. Last year, a magazine I looked forward to reading at the end of every semester was destroyed because of a racist joke and now a good friend of mine is being called a racist. I really feel bad for both Gravity and Jordan Rothman, because once somebody or something gets tagged as racist, nobody defends them for fear of getting the same label. You can call me whatever you want to, but I’d like to say a few words defending the accused.

First off, I’d like to say that the “joke” in last spring’s issue of gravity was very inappropriate and a poor decision. However, I thought it was an equally poor decision for that joke to appear in other campus publications while the rest of the issue remained unseen. I feel bad for everyone on the staff that put in a lot of hard work writing a publication that ended up being read by nobody. I know Gravity was racy and pushed the envelope, and they went too far. However, was the mistake big enough to justify the termination of its existence on paper?

The Gravity issue irked me, but the Jordan issue bothered me. Jordan doesn’t believe in affirmative action, but that does not in any way make him a racist. On a side note, I think a policy that sets a different standard based on somebody’s race is a form of racism itself. But back to Jordan. This is a man who is more involved with campus life than anyone else I know, and very rarely has a negative comment about anything. He has one of the most outgoing personalities I’ve ever seen, and he goes out of his way to introduce himself to everyone. Aside from this, he has spent the past two summers working for Americore, in Patterson, NJ. He told me this area consisted mostly of minorities and the program was designed to help them become better students. If this is the definition of a racist person, I think the world would be a better place if everyone became more racist.

Recently, he told me that he’s done writing about controversy, and I think this is awful. On a campus that has an overwhelming liberal majority, a conservative “tall” voice was a much needed balance. I think this student body needs to be a little more open minded, and be able to listen to somebody who has a different opinion about something without labeling them a racist. Once we all leave the liberal stronghold that is this campus, we are going to meet people with different political beliefs than us. If we call all of these people names and attack them, we are all going to live very embattled lives.

I’m not a minority so I can’t say I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a racist comment, but I did grow up with the last name gay. With a name like that, you get made fun of, you get singled out, and it’s over something you have no control over. Racist people who take shots at others solely because they are a member of a certain group are an unfortunate part of society. Fortunately, these people are themselves a minority, but we really should reserve the label for those who actually deserve it.