Letter to USU Leaders: Raise the Bar on Statesman Standards

Dear President Albrecht, Vice President Morales, and EIC Steve,

I’m writing this letter to you as a concerned former student, previous writer for the Statesman, and, to Steve, as a friend and peer.

The “Common Sense” column by Richard Winters published in the Statesman made a blatant, shameless, and totally unethical attack on the morality of homosexuality. I, my fellow graduates, and many current students are embarrassed and appalled that our university allowed such an article to be published in its official newspaper.

Of course, Mr. Winters is entitled to his opinions. He is entirely free to believe that LGBT people “get what [they] deserve” when lava destroys their city. But there are several hundred gay students on campus who undoubtedly read this article and felt, yet again, that the level of intolerance they encounter on a daily basis is never going to cease.

Whether you believe that homosexuality is right or wrong, as school leaders and student advocates, you certainly understand how difficult it is to be gay in Utah. The sheer statistics of the predominance of Mormonism mean that gay students cannot escape peers who think they are living a substandard lifestyle—and believe me, it shows.

USU has made great strides in making campus a more tolerant place. The LGBT office in the Access and Diversity center, along with Allies training, enables all students and teachers to be more aware and tolerant of LGBT students’ needs. Richard Winters just took a huge step backwards from that—and he used an official school platform to do it.

Furthermore, Winters makes no bones about the fact that “women’s rights” about “their own bodies” are vague ideas he considers completely illegitimate. He lies about feminism, he lies about Rome and Pompeii, and he lies about pornography. His article is not simply expressing his opinion about morality—it is making condescending, dishonest, and wholly inappropriate commentary on gays and women, and his accusations about my complete lack of virtue are borderline libelous.

I understand that this might sound a little hypocritical coming from me; after all, my columns were certainly not the most popular. But, after having spent some time living in a city outside of Utah where people do not think I “spew debauchery and filth,” it looks terrible when a supposedly progressive college setting publishes material like Winters’ last tirade.

I ask you to please consider raising the bar for the kind of material the Statesman publishes. I love many things about USU and my experience there, but I do not want to claim any pride over a newspaper that publishes content like Mr. Winters’ column.

Warm regards,

Liz Emery

 

If you feel so moved, I strongly suggest you share your thoughts on the subject with USU leadership as well. Stan Albrecht and James Morales can be contacted with any concerns at stan.abrecht@usu.edu and james.morales@usu.edu, respectively. The Statesman’s email address is statesman@aggiemail.usu.edu.

A Wintery Rebuttal

(You can read the column this post responds to here.)

I loved being a columnist for the Statesman. It was fun to prod around the little conservative community and see what irked my sheltered neighbors’ notions of comfort. Not to say I made anything up–I still stand by every word I wrote–but it was fun to play devil’s advocate.

As such, however, I received a regular slew of nonsensical responses. Most were polite, some were not, and a couple were even threatening. As a columnist, unless you are emailed personally, it is unprofessional to respond to online comments on your articles. Some people don’t even read the comments on their work because they get frustrated that they can’t rebuttal. As a Statesman author, I found myself in that position frequently.

But guess what? I’m not a Statesman employee anymore. Yee! That means when I read Richard Winters’ column today, I had a joyful realization–I can comment on others’ articles now, and I don’t even have to be nice.

So, without further ado, I will commence, point-by-pointless-point, to kick Dick Winters’ ridiculous “column” square in the nutsack.

First of all, I’d like to say that if I prayed, I’d fervently plead that “Common Sense” is not a legitimate column. Please, Lord, let it not be so! (Maybe I should just write a note to Steve, the EIC, instead…) I get that not everybody agreed with my opinions–but at least I can follow both the rules of grammar and a rational thought process. Mr. Winters demonstrates neither of these skills.

In his very first paragraph, Winters claims I have a disdain for anything virtuous. It behooveth him not to say such things, for it almost comes off as comedically slanderous. Just because my morals don’t align with his, I’m a downright nasty person. Homeless shelters? Useless. Adoption agencies? No thanks. Book clubs, parenting classes, family therapists? Fuck em all. I don’t have time for such virtuous institutions! Really, though, Winters–stop pontificating. It isn’t becoming of you.

Winters audaciously claims to hold no ill will towards me. I really could not care less whether he does or doesn’t, but when I’m writing about someone I have no ill will towards, I don’t accuse them of disdaining virtuosity, spewing “debauchery and filth,” and saying that if they continue they will get what they deserve. I mean, seriously. What exactly do I “deserve” for my opinions? Should I stand under Pompeii and drink, fornicate, and mock the righteous until it spontaneously decides to blow on me, too? Thank God we have Richard to the Rescue to save us from the evil of the latter days.

Dick, I hate to break it to you, but the world is in a much better place than it used to be. For starters, we now know that shitting in our drinking water is bad. Cholera, polio, and consumption are virtually gone. Medical advances are incredible. The general life quality of the world is increasing day by day. Third world countries are beginning to economically compete on a world-wide scale. We can communicate on an unprecedented level. Rapists can be prosecuted in almost every country. Human rights and dignity are on the rise. What, exactly, do you see spinning out of control? Certainly your quaint ideas of morality and creationism, yes. Well, welcome to the 21st century.

And, pardon my French, but your outrageously insulting statements about feminism are complete and utter bullshit. Why are you using quotation marks around “women’s rights,” and “their own bodies”? What do you, a white heterosexual male from Mormonville, Utah, know about women’s right, their bodies, or the feminist movement? If you talk to a feminist, you will find that many of them are saddened and even disgusted at the portrayal of women in the media. And these vague, silly ideas of “women’s rights” and “their own bodies”–are these not real concepts to you? Do you not believe women have rights, or the power to dictate what they can do with their bodies? Your language is embarrassingly telling of your mind.

Furthermore, Richard claims I suggest everyone embrace homosexuality–which I do–but surely if everyone were gay, we’d all die out. Immediately jumping to a categorical imperative argument shows nothing but Winters’ lack of solid backing. What if everyone were infertile? We’d die out in just one generation! But not everyone is infertile, and not everyone is gay. Not even close. Furthermore, even if they were, we are now blessed with the scientific ability to artificially inseminate. And is the sole purpose of men and women to fuck unremittingly so that we never die out? I would think with tens of thousands of neglected children dying daily from starvation, society’s ability to reproduce would be far from Richard’s worries. Apparently not.

And–oh, my God!–Ted Bundy? Well, I’m sold. If he said something, then it must be true. It doesn’t matter that he’s a pathological liar, a murderer, and a sadist–if he blamed his behavior on pornography, there can be no other explanation. Never mind that billions of people watch porn and don’t become serial killers. Never mind the studies that show deviant behavior lessens when perpetrators can watch porn rather than carry it out in real life. Never mind that this is the stupidest argument known to anti-porn kind.

So, Richard, go ahead and use your common sense. You’re in a for a ride, though, because you are the last of a dying breed. People will not be told what to do in their bedrooms by others who have no business being there. Women are contributing to the world’s economy and general well-being, and you’re goddamned right they have rights and the ability to control their own bodies. Your sentimental notions of virtue and vice are no longer applicable in today’s world. Why? Becaaaauuuuseee….

Heterosexual couples can’t stay married. Religion is still responsible for the majority of the death and destruction we see today. Mormonism is losing members faster than it can retain them. People have always had premarital sex. Rome did not fall because of gays or sin, and neither did Pompeii. And I definitely hate everything that is virtuous.

I’m sorry, Richard, but your straggling attempts at common sense are leading you in exactly the opposite direction that history, fact, and rationality would take you. Maybe you should try using another viewpoint to figure things out… May I be so bold as to suggest reality?

P.S. Common sense doesn’t tell you that, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” LDS posters told you that. Just sayin…