Commentary  Letters

Publicity should not invite violence

Re: “Why don’t you just do it inside?” | Letters | February 12

In response to Stephanie Ränkin and Hillary Walker’s letter regarding Julie Alsop’s article “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?” I would like to offer up an anecdote. One Friday night, I was walking down St. Laurent with my girlfriend, simply holding hands. As we approached a group of guys one of them pointed and shouted, “Hey, look! It’s two girls!” We kept going but just as we passed one of them turned around, shouted again, more aggressively this time, and started walking towards us. Luckily one of his friends intercepted him and they turned around, but in that moment I was more scared for my safety than I ever have been in this city. And I wasn’t even making out, just holding hands with someone I love. Tell me, do you think that would happen to a straight couple?

I agree that “publicity invites viewership” but since when does publicity invite violence? You say that a space can be heteronormative and not homophobic, but heteronormativity is exactly what breeds homophobia and makes it seem okay.

If those guys had not been under the impression that all sexualities besides their own are something strange and threatening, I doubt I would have been in danger that night. It’s just a short jump from gawking to violence. The idea that queer PDA is a “novelty” is the part of your argument that is the most offensive. I think we would do better to examine why exactly queer identities are deemed novel by society than to tell queer people to shut up and get used to it. It’s precisely this attitude of heterosexual privilege that makes public spaces unwelcoming and unsafe for anyone who isn’t straight.

Kate Bass

U1 Cultural Studies

How many equity complaints will it take?

Re: “Choose Life becomes full-status club” | News | February 16

I believe my opinion on the SSMU club Choose Life, as represented in this article, needs some clarification. The article reads: “Woolf pointed out that denying Choose Life the right to exist as a club would limit students’ freedom of speech” (my emphasis). My point was precisely the opposite – to deny a club status is not tantamount to stifling discussion on campus, as so many people argued.

Students are always encouraged to gather and discuss important and often divisive issues on campus, but it is simply wrong to claim that one requires club status to do so. As I was correctly quoted: “Students have opinions; clubs have goals.” To give Choose Life space within the SSMU umbrella is to implicitly endorse the pursuit of their goal – which, despite what their constitution states, is to convince you not to have an abortion.

We banned blood drives in 2006 because they contravened SSMU’s constitutional mandate to protect its students from oppression. Choose Life is oppressive to women on campus, and unlike blood drives, we can’t even agree that their existence benefits our community. As long as Choose Life continues to put on events found to be oppressive by members of our community, equity complaints will continue to be filed – I just wonder how many complaints it will take before the powers that be (cough cough, SSMU Council) see fit to shut them down.

Sarah Woolf

U1 Political Science & Women’s Studies

Arts Rep to SSMU

Let’s focus on issues close to home

Re: “Separating politics from human rights” | Commentary | February 16

Louis-Guillaume Roldan urges us to draw a line separating human rights from politics. The problem is that where he chooses to draw that line is itself political.

It is not that I support the bombing of schools anywhere. I certainly do not. What I object to is the inconsistency of indignation: that we do not pass motions condemning the terrorist attacks of recent months in Mumbai, that we are complacent in front of the ongoing Canadian presence in Afghanistan, and that scarcely a comment is made concerning the daily horrors taking place the world-over and the amplitude of local injustices present in our own city.

The issue of mutual allegations of misconduct obscured by battleground haze is one quite distant from us, as much as we may wish it to be otherwise. We here in Montreal cannot see through the fog of war to decipher the complexities of a violent battle between two entities far more threatened and vulnerable than anything within our ability to comprehend here in Canada. Even the UN is unsure what happened concerning the school in Gaza. What we can legitimately see and comment about is what takes place right here in our own city and country.

Concerned for the right to education? Why not take up a motion condemning the firebombing of a Jewish school right here in Montreal? The perpetrator was just sentenced. In just over three years he’ll be free, free perhaps to firebomb more Jewish institutions, attempt to burn more schools, threaten more gay men, and continue his plans to blow up the train station in his effort to convert “westerners” to Islam.

Concerned about the right to education? Why not do something about the fact that more than 30 per cent of Montreal students drop out of high school? These are issues we are close to. These are issues about which we have relevant knowledge and credibility. These are issues that demand our attention. Far-flung foreign divisive distractions do little to help the cause of justice close to home, where we can actually make a difference.

Isaac Binkovitz

U3 Honours Geography (Urban Systems)

Like, a for-real hug, Sana?

Re: “For real seriously, Zucker?” | Letters | February 16

You want a hug? Don’t insult my intelligence.

I still can’t figure out what represents a bigger insult to the intelligence of McGill students: the fact that we were asked to vote about one of the most complex issues out there with a simple yes or no, or the notion that in defeat, SPHR advocates can only conclude that Jewish students want to stifle free speech and “avoid discussion.” To me, it seems clear that those who proposed the Gaza motion are most in need of some discussion. Sana, you say that many of you had reservations about the motion. Yet, I did not hear anyone of the sort speak up, and it’s abundantly clear from the actual wording of the Gaza motion that no such discussion took place.

Worst of all, is the fact that this motion was presented under the guise, or should I say disguise of human rights, which I think we can all look back on as nothing more than a failed marketing slogan. Why? Well, here’s a newsflash: there are still some free-thinking individuals out there, many of whom consider themselves to be the staunchest of liberals, who realize that the notion of human rights doesn’t discriminate between the nationality of civilians. Believe it or not, this actually implies that the fact that Israeli students were nestled in bomb-shelters while Hamas rained rockets on Israel should be just as alarming as the apparent bombing of educational institutions a few kilometers away

If you want to hug people on the other side of the room, you might want to give them a little more credit instead of pontificating on their true intentions. I mean, for seriously, Sana? That’s the best you could come up with? McGill students emphatically reject a very political and one-sided motion and that means Jewish students don’t support freedom of speech and want to “avoid discussion?” Sounds like sour grapes to me. Next time, may I suggest something a little more intricate than “Human Rights are good, Israel is bad,” if you’re looking to dupe people.

If your goal is to foster discussion on such issues, the consensus is clearly that it not be put to vote, and I would add that you should maybe not insult the intelligence of those on the other side of the room first. Then, we can talk about hugs.

David Rimock

U3 Political Science

Rankings don’t attract students

Re: “Would the real Harvard nix Humanistic Studies” | Commentary | February 16

Aviva Friedman’s attempt at defending Humanistic Studies needs to be addressed.

She wrote that McGill’s actions in dissolving the Humanistic Studies program has led her to question the claim that McGill is “the Harvard of the North.” Why would she possibly not want to question this statement? The assumed validity of this statement destroys her entire argument for saving Humanistic Studies.

This statement is based on the controversial ranking system that has placed Harvard at the top of the American list, and McGill at the top of the Canadian one, hence giving foreground for this analogy. But unlike what she stated, the reason why employers hire Princeton and Harvard students has little to do with their so-called “rounded education,” but in fact more relies on this controversial ranking system which undermines the entire purpose of educational institutions. That purpose isn’t to attend a school for its top ranking, but for its capability to produce a well-rounded individual.

I’m not going to argue that dissolving Humanistic Studies is an innately right or wrong action to take, but rather, that people arguing for continuing this type of study need to come up with a more legitimate reason than a fallaciously pretentious T-shirt slogan. So, Aviva, U3 Humanistic Studies Students’ Associate President; I vote to impeach.

Alex Nachamkin

U1 Philosophy

The Daily received more letters than it could print this issue. The rest will appear in the first issue after break.