In Defense of Phil Robertson


How one interview enforced a lack of tolerance in modern society

By now, you have all heard about the events surrounding TV star Phil Robertson. Whether you are a fan of Duck Dynasty or not, everyone seems to be talking about the indefinite hiatus placed on Robertson, one of the show’s stars. The suspension, led by the channel that host Duck Dynasty, A&E, came as a result of an interview Robertson had with GQ magazine. When asked on what he considered sinful behaviors against core Christian values, Robertson said, “Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong… Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.” Robertson then added, “Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers – they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

However, nothing that can be deemed truly hateful or cruel was said by “the Duck Commander” about gays. He didn’t say that he hated those who were different than him, and never wished any harm on those who participate in the gay lifestyle. He just believes that homosexuality, among other sinful acts, are wrong and will punished in the afterlife. I can understand Robertson’s viewpoint as his own personal religious position. Once again, it is a harmless viewpoint based on his own religious views.

But alas, the world does not work in a way of easily understanding differences. After that quote was released, the reaction by certain individuals can simply be summarized as absolute hysteria. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, released a statement saying that, “Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.” Even Piers Morgan, whose show has surprisingly not been cut from CNN’s lineup due to its poor ratings, called Robertson “a victim of his own repulsively racist, homophobic bigotry.” After all of the outcry, A&E cut Robertson, and covered themselves by saying, “His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community.” Robertson, however, stood his ground, saying he “would never treat anyone with disrespect” because of their differences, and that he would continue to teach his principles. Now, there is a threat of the family ending the show and cutting ties with A&E if the patriarch is completely abandoned from the show, and even a Facebook page (completely unaffiliated with  the Robertson family’s personal efforts) that calls for the boycott of A&E until Robertson’s reinstatement.

First of all, was anyone really that surprised about Robertson’s comments? If you know even the tiniest amount of information about the Robertson family or the show, you know that the family has centered themselves around Christian and traditional family values. All of their episodes are based on the family interacting with each other, and at the end of every episode they end with a prayer. In fact, some episodes even take place at the White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ, where the eldest of the four Robertson sons, Alan, preached for over twenty years. Anyone who is shocked by what was said by Phil Robertson obviously does not understand the background of the family well enough or at all.

But, onto the discussion. The comments Robertson made were not as evil as they are being portrayed by people like Morgan. They reflect a belief that a lot of Christians have. They disagree and frown upon certain things, but they do not wish harm to these individuals. This attitude of disagreeing yet peacefully living with other differences is something that is also not limited for those who practice Christianity, and is rather a character trait most individuals have. We all have certain attitudes that we do not morally agree with. However, we treat each other like human beings and respect those who have a different moral understanding than us. If people like Morgan had any bit of humanity in them, then they would learn to just disagree with Robertson and accept the spectrum of religious beliefs this nation fosters.

On a side note, if most journalists actually knew how to do their jobs, there would have been a large outcry against Russian Actor Ivan Okhlobystin. Last week, Okhlobystin, a former Orthodox priest, said to a crowd in the town of Novosibirsk, “I would put all the gays alive into an oven.” That is true bigotry and hate. However, it is Robertson who is getting dragged through the mud, while very few people have even heard of Okhlobystin’s comments.

With this action, A&E has changed the game on what can and cannot be said in public. If a comment does not fit into a certain criteria, then, based on the precedent that is now set, they should not be allowed in the first place. This can have a dangerous effect on future cases, as entertainment stars (and people in general) will be less willing to share their honest views with the public, as it may result in getting axed.

Because of this possible precedent, A&E should be embarrassed with the choices they made. Yet, as a private company, A&E has the right to shut Robertson down. Whether we agree with it or not, if an employee does not properly represent the values of his business partner, the partner has a right to cut ties. A&E made a move that best suits their interest and values as a corporation.

This does bring up the question of if A&E knew the Robertson family had traditional Christian values (and possibly currently pressuring them to hide their beliefs while on television), why on Earth did they partner with the family in the first place? This may show A&E’s lack of standing strong on what they believe in, a lack of knowledge of their clients in the first place, or the fear A&E has about losing viewers and sponsorship. Whatever the case may be, A&E would’ve felt backlash with either decision, failing to please everyone.

While I and many others disagree with the choice, A&E’s choice is indeed private and business related, and it must be respected as such. That does not mean fans should not fight against it, but it does mean if we do not like the choice that was made, we support a separate network or the Robertsons directly. That’s the beauty of the capitalistic world we live in. Either A&E will change their decision, or a new product will rise to replace them. Who knows? Maybe the Robertsons will move their talents to a totally different network that better represents their views.

A&E was placed into a tough situation that they have an undeniable right to make a decision upon. However, their response to the situation was poor and possibly damaging to the future of entertainment. People like Robertson, who share their morality with the public but do not wish harm on those who have conflicting morals, should not be forced out of the public eye. As a society, we need to learn that we live in a time where a spectrum of ideas can flourish. If two people have opposing ideas, that is absolutely acceptable. Let us have a discussion with those we oppose rather than cast them away. If the least we can do is respect others’ differences, then the world will truly be a “happy happy happy”-er place.

Also, if only people acted with as much anger towards important issues (like the overarching spying by the government) as they do about Robertson, then maybe most of the world’s  problems would have been solved by now.

BREAKING: DTH Claims Mantle of Conservatism For… Itself!


So, technically this isn’t breaking news, as it actually happened yesterday, and I am only just now getting around to writing about it. But, I’m taking my cue from the DTH here, never let the facts get in the way of a good headline.

The DTH’s Quickhits yesterday were quite amusing. Elizabeth has already covered their drive-by job on the Carolina Review, but let’s also consider their treatment of “Conservatism.” Note that’s “”Conservatism”” not “Conservatism” because we all know that Conservatism isn’t actually a real thing. People aren’t Conservatives, they’re “Conservatives.” You know, kind of like how the DTH only reports “facts” and not actual facts and, they have “reporters” not reporters. And people don’t actually adhere to Conservatism, they adhere to “Conservatism,” which is some sort of made-up political ideology that exists solely to oppress black people and gays.

But back to the actual text of the “Quickhit.” I do like the way it started out: “Let us be clear…” I think they were trying to channel some of that old Hope n’ Change of my man Barack (who apparently will be on campus Tuesday… what’s up with that???). But they continue, “There’s nothing conservative about Amendment One.” Note that’s conservative, not “conservative,” so I think we may be talking about actual Conservatism here. This is quite amusing. Apparently, the DTH thinks that it has some sort of authority to decide what is and isn’t conservative. Because when William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan and all those other Conservative luminaries died, they didn’t pass the mantle of Conservatism onto something like National Review or Human Events or some other group like that. No, the Daily Tar Heel has inherited the mantle of Conservatism. Yes, that’s right. The same newspaper that has advocated for such Conservative positions as raising the county sales tax and affirmative action is now your one, authoritative voice for Conservatism on campus.

And we all know how balanced the DTH has been on the marriage issue. Just check out how evenly divide their pro- and anti- amendment pieces break down:
































So, for those of you keeping score, that’s 27 articles/letters/editorials opposing Amendment One to 2.

I’ll also refrain from commenting on the glaring contradiction between a paper that openly endorses a health insurance mandate and then claims that you should oppose Amendment One because “If you don’t want the government involved in you [sic] life, then you shouldn’t vote for an amendment that would infringe on citizens’ liberty.” Right. The only thing that’s more personal than marriage is your health, but it’s OK if the government has complete authority to tell you how and what kind of care you will receive.

And just in case the aforementioned hypocrisy wasn’t enough to convince you, be warned that if you’re conservative and still support the Amendment, then “you’re either intellectually deficient or just plain dishonest.” This obviously explains why, in a fairly conservative state, 58% of voters support the Amendment. It’s not because there’s actually a conservative argument to be made for traditional marriage (an argument that the DTH has never bothered to consider), but because supporters of the Amendment are stupid. We all know that anyone who dares disagree with the Omniscient and Omnipotent Daily Tar Heel doesn’t do it because they might have a legitimate disagreement with the paper (or… God forbid, the Daily Tar Heel gets it… WRONG!). They do it, because these people lack the capacity for rational thought and are barbarian ignoramuses who need the enlightened reason of the DTH’s master editorialists to tell them what to think.

So remember, the next time you want to know the authentic conservative position on an issue and you’re only interested in learning some of the facts and reading half-baked editorials, just pick up the nearest Daily Tar Heel. You’ll be glad you did.

The Ballot at the End of the Rainbow


Apparently there’s some sort of vote coming up that involves gay marriage or something. Though, if one only read the Daily Tar Heel, you’d think it was a settled matter. There’s overwhelming opposition to this amendment and, anyone who opposes it is some sort of Medieval bigot who hates gay people. Not to mention, there are some really compelling propaganda films out there. In the interest of creating a more intelligent debate (and without necessarily taking a side), I just thought I’d raise a few questions. So, let’s being, shall we?

1. What exactly changes if this amendment is ratified?

Current North Carolina law prohibits the marriage of anyone but one man and one woman. Amendment One largely seems to just take what is a statutory matter and make it a constitutional matter. Not much more seems to change. I suppose, in theory, it’s more difficult to change the state constitution than it is mere law, but that’s not exactly a compelling argument either way.

2. What effects will passage of Amendment One have on business in the state?

As mentioned previously, state law already prohibits gay marriage I don’t seem to be able to find a source pin-pointing the exact year of that particular law’s enactment, but I’m informally told it was 1997. Assuming that’s the case, this law has been on the books for about 15 years, which raises an interesting question. For weeks, people have been running around in a big panic about how “writing hate into the constitution” will drive businesses out of the state and we’ll all die in poverty because everyone will think that North Carolinians are just a bunch of homophobic barbarians.

If this claim was true (and I don’t think I’ve exaggerated it too much- indeed, the DTH even tried to argue that there would be some sort of foreign policy impact from the amendment’s ratification), then you’d think we would have seen something like this happen over the course of the last 15 years, because “hate” is already written into state law. But we haven’t. Businesses still come here and set up shop (admittedly, not as much as they used to, but that’s what happens when you let Democrats run the place). Gov. Perdue herself claims that North Carolina is “one of the best places in the nation to locate or expand a business.” So, what’s the big deal? If there were some sort of economic impact to be had from laws of this sort, we would have seen them already. This just seems to be nothing more than scare-mongering.

3. Should the government be involved in the private lives of its citizens?

I’ve been reading a lot of arguments to this effect from more conservative-leaning commentators on the subject, but there are still some unresolved issues. For instance, a lot of people say that they don’t think the government should be involved with the whole marriage shin-dig because it’s ultimately a private matter. However, considering that marriage is ultimately a legal contract between two people, I think that the state is going to be involved on at least some level. The state effectively creates a definition for the contract (like it does for any sort of legal relationship, i.e. LLCs, corporations, etc.) and provides system for the enforcement of the contract (until its dissolution). So, it would seem to me that the state is free to define this contractual relationship anyway it pleases. You can, of course, debate the merits of one definition over another, but there’s nothing inherently bigoted about defining it any particular way. You ultimately have to draw the line somewhere. In the same way that there are certain requirements you have to fulfill in order incorporate a business, so too there are certain requirements you have to fulfill in order to create a marital relationship. I don’t think there’s any philosophical problem here. One only has the right to incorporate a business if one meets the requirements, likewise, two people only have the right to marry if they meet the requirements. And no one’s really up in arms about the state’s involvement in incorporation.

There’s also nothing to prevent two people from getting “married” outside the legal system. Churches are free to recognize whatever they want to, and people are free to live together. There’s nothing to prevent people from getting married. They would just lack legal recognition (which ultimately would be a government-free alternative to a traditional marriage). Note the last line of the amendment (which curiously always seems to be left out whenever people criticize it): “This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.

But let’s be honest. Ninety percent of the opposition to this amendment would be eliminated under a Flat Tax system. Sure, people are out there talking about how it’s all about civil rights, etc., but there’s nothing to prevent these people from loving each other however they want. It’s not like the morality police are going to break down the door if two gay men move in together (this isn’t Saudi Arabia after all). The only thing their relationship would lack compared to a traditional marriage is a couple of tax breaks ( a benefit of the legal recognition). Not to completely change the subject, but I think our overly byzantine tax code is really one of the root causes of this debate.

4. Lastly, why are so many of the anti-Amendment One crowd so nasty?

After four years at UNC, the vitriol of this campaign really shouldn’t surprise me, but it’s still pretty bad. Many opponents of this amendment just causally call the opposition “bigoted,” “hate-mongers,” “backward,” “homophobic” and all the rest. Personally, I find it to be kind of a turn off. Now, I realize that not every opponent of amendment is like this (I know several people who have been able to discuss it in a refreshingly reasonable manner), but there’s enough of it to give one pause before deciding to associate oneself with this group. A re-tooling of tactics would be a nice, as would the recognition that two people can have a political difference without necessarily hating each other.

That about does it for now. Though, I may, of course, come up with some more questions later, should the discussion prove stimulating enough.

Is There Light at the End of the Tunnel (of Oppression)?


*You can find most of this year’s Tunnel in the video above. However, due to a technical issue, the last scene of the Tunnel is not included.

There are few bonds on campus that run longer and deeper than my bond with the Tunnel of Oppression. Having proudly participated all three years that it’s been on campus, I think that I come as close to being a Tunneler Expert as any man on campus. As such, it is my duty- Nay! My solemn privilege- to provide, yet again, a brilliant and insightful commentary on this year’s Tunnel.

My greatest disappointment this year was a lack of a theme for the Tunnel. Personally, my favorite was last year’s Willy Wonka Theme, but this year there wasn’t one. Really disappointing. And there’s so much to pick from, Twilight, Hunger Games, Dr. Seuss… so sad.

First up was the “Privilege Walk” (take one step forward if you’re a privileged white, heterosexual male, take one step back if you’re not). This was more or less consistent with what they’ve done in the past, so I won’t comment too much on that. Though, they really could have gone wild with a Hunger Games theme here (“everyone with white, heterosexual, Christian parents, battle to death!).

However, they did modify the Disabilities Awareness Room. Last year, if you’ll recall, they had a student with Dyslexia sitting at a desk, taking a test, with a teacher screaming at her to hurry up. As several people pointed out, such a situation was highly improbable mostly because it was very illegal (kind of like the love between a vampire and a werewolf). This year, they had the same student, but instead of a teaching yelling at the student, they had another student complaining to the teacher about the special accommodations being provided to the Dyslexic student. While this is a slightly more plausible situation, I’m not sure that it’s all that plausible. Assuming we’re talking about college students and not 8-year olds, I’m not sure that your typical college student is going to go up to the professor and whine about how the girl with Dyslexia gets extra time to finish her test. Realistically, who wants to be known as the person who throws a bitch fit (pardon the French) about it because the girl who can’t read gets a few extra minutes on her test? I think it’s one of those situations where peer pressure can actually act as a reinforcement for more charitable action. Besides, it’s also my understanding that students with learning disabilities have the option of taking their tests at the Disabilities Center, where they would not have to worry about any negative, external pressures from their peers. So, again, a non-issue.

Illegal Love?

Next up was a body image scene. I think what was most interesting about this bit was some of the stats they had posted around the room, things like 8 in 10 children are afraid of become fat, etc. Of course, when you’ve got the First Lady of the United States running around telling everyone that they’re fat and need to lost weight, these resulting mentalities shouldn’t really be all that unexpected. Perhaps if the government wasn’t so keen on forcing everyone to live what they deem a “healthy lifestyle,” people wouldn’t be as obsessed with how they look. Of course, pop culture also plays a role (which I believe the Tunnel covered pretty well), but we mustn’t underestimate the effect of things like the Let’s Move! program.

The Religion scene was a bit better this year. It consisted largely of a group of students (each representing a different religion) discussing different religious stereotypes (e.g. Jews are rich, Christians are Bible Thumpers, etc.). Nothing terribly controversial here, though given the rather condescending attitude that often greets religion on campus, it’s definitely an area worth covering.

We finally got some fireworks in the Homophobia Room. Now, I’ve always thought that the word, “homophobia,” was always a bit of a misnomer. I have yet to meet a person who’s legitimately scared of homosexuals (unlike, say a tree’s Thneedophobia). Though, perhaps if more people were homophobic, it would make the homosexuals quest for “equality” a little easier. They could just hang out near polling places and scare all those bigoted homophobes away from the polls. You know, kind of like the Black Panthers are apt to do. Anyway… The scene starts out with a couple students studying. A few more students wander in, one of the male students kisses his boyfriend, and the other students then proceed to gossip about the apparently homosexual student on the other side of the room. The other students get up and knock a few books off the homosexual student’s desk on the way out. Finally, this student relates a couple stories about abuse gay students receive off campus, mostly notably being picked on in bars and the like (he relates how, in one instance, someone threw an orange at him in a  bar). Supposedly, these stories were based on actual events at UNC. But I kind of have a hard time believing that. Particularly with regard to homosexuality, UNC is one of the most tolerant places on the planet. While it’s conceivable that maybe (a very big maybe) something like the bullying evident in the scene occurred, in my four years here (a large time of which was spent hanging out in more conservative circles, where supposedly such obnoxious bullying would originate) I have yet to see anything that remotely approaches the malice presented in the Tunnel.

As far as the anecdotes regarding the bars go, I also have a hard time that a bouncer (or bar owner or other responsible party) would sit by while someone attempts to start a food fight in his bar. Aside from the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever even seen an orange in a bar (except for a small slice in my Blue Moon, which I highly recommend), bar fights aren’t exactly good for business. But let’s assume it did happen. It’s a little presumptive to think that just because someone throws an orange at you, it’s because he hates you because you’re gay (or a vampire). More likely it’s because he was drunk and wasn’t really thinking clearly. Or maybe he wasn’t even aiming for you (I myself tend to have rather terrible aim and have a tendency to hit everything except what I’m actually aiming for- part of the reason I don’t play baseball). But then that would ruin the story wouldn’t it? You can’t very well cast yourself as a down-trodden victim of oppression, if your supposed oppressor was just drunk. I also realize that this is all taking place with Amendment 1hanging out in the background, so I understand if some people want to push an agenda, but I don’t believe that the scene, as presented, is an accurate depiction of the environment at UNC.

Beware the Oranges!

Human Trafficking was next. I think the most interesting aspect of this scene was the bit where the illegal alien relayed some of the financial difficulties she was having with her boss (e.g. receiving less than the minimum wage, watching her entire paycheck disappear in a flurry of employer deductions, etc.). While her situation is certainly tragic, it’s not entirely unpredictable. When you enter this country (or any country really) illegally, you can’t really expect to have the full protection of the law. While you can certainly make appeals to human justice, etc., those don’t really have the same staying power as a cop with a gun and handcuffs. In my humble opinion, this is one of the largest problems with America’s current immigration policy, which doesn’t merely condone illegal immigration, but outright encourages it. The people who are here illegally are often not protected by any sort of law (because you can’t very well wander up to the Department of Labor and file a wage complaint if you’re not even supposed to be here in the first place), so they open themselves up to exploitation (from capitalist Thneeders). This, I think, is the greatest tragedy of illegal immigration, and one that often goes unappreciated by the open borders types.

We will definitely be having a conversation.

The Relationship Violence scene was fairly similar to previous years’ presentations, so in the interest of space (and holding your interest), I shall proceed to the final room, the Race Room. Unfortunately, this was the only room I was unable to record (my spy camera has limits apparently, I’ll be having a discussion with James Bond about that), so I’m having to go completely off memory on this one. From what I can recall, there were four (or maybe three) girls in the room, one black, one white, one Asian, and one Indian (I think). The Asian girl largely complained about how people look at her funny and make fun of the way her mother talks and what she eats for lunch. Personally, I found this kind of amusing. When I was in China, I got stares (literally) from the natives all the time. I don’t think they even realized they were doing it half the time, but it was kind of amusing to go walking down the street and have scores of Chinese people turn their heads to look at you. The toddlers were always the best, because they would point and then get these looks of utter bewilderment on their faces- kind of cute in a way. This happened nearly every time I went out (though it occurred more frequently in Anyang, where the white man rarely treads, than in Beijing). I was never really bothered by it. It was kind of amusing. That and I could always swap stories with the other foreigners in my program (the best one I heard was of a guy riding his bike, who turned to look at one of the American students, and then proceeded to ride right into a wall). I can’t even imagine what my Chinese sounds like to a native (though my teachers did make me do some rather interesting tone exercises in an effort to purge my accent).

A Cross Stitching of Mao? Weird

I don’t think whatever gawking (here intended more broadly than just physically looking at someone) goes on between Americans and Asians is due to racism, but due more to the large differences between the two cultures. We’re just very different from each other and have completely different cultural underpinnings (and they eat weird things that we would never dream of eating and vice-versa). I think the gawking results more from a genuine curiosity about the other culture more than anything else. And I think when someone goes up to you in the cafeteria and asks what that weird, noodlely concoction in your lunchbox is, it isn’t because they’re trying to make fun of you (though maybe they are), but because they want to learn more about what you’re eating. It’s an invitation to share cultures. If we all just pretend that nothing’s unique and are afraid to ask questions because we’re afraid of being labeled a racist, that doesn’t make for a very interesting world and does nothing to bridge cultural divides.

The other girl who stood out was the white girl, who apparently was the embodiment of white guilt. She talked about how she’s been pulled over three times and never given a ticket, easily got into college and found a job, etc. Well, as the stereotypical white male, I’d like to know her secret. Personally, I find the suggestion that everything I have I have simply because I’m white offensive. I’ve worked hard to get where I am and have had nothing handed to me on a silver platter. I haven’t the slightest guilt (racial or otherwise) because everything I have is the result of hard work and determination.

And I don’t think that is true simply for me. The idea that white people have some sort of advantage over other races is absurd. This actually came up in the post-Tunnel discussion group, specifically concerning Affirmative Action. Several members of my group brought up the point that racism, properly defined, is simply a situation where race factors into a person’s decision about how to act. Affirmative Action, which is solely based on race, is nothing more than reverse-discrimination. It offers preferential treatment to applicants who are non-white and non-Asian, racism in its purest form. Of course, when the group raised this point, the moderator quickly attempted to redefine what Affirmative Action “actually” is. Apparently isn’t a form of reverse discrimination (California begs to differ), but it’s merely an attempt by university administrators to put together the best possible class from a group of students. This is quite funny, because that’s still racism! In this case, administrators are simply making the determination that it is better for the university to admit certain racial classes than to admit the most qualified applicants. Needless to say, the moderator didn’t quite have a response, and the discussion wrapped up rather quickly after that.

That about does it for the Tunnel of Oppression. I’m sorry to say that this will be last commentary on this fine event. I’m sure that my wit and wisdom will be sorely missed, but alas, I must move on to bigger and better things, like chronic unemployment and a small mountain of student debt. But never fear, I hear a recovery is just around the corner.

How About We Stop This Nonsense


Ok, so the passage of Amendment 1 in the NC State House, which would constitutionally ban gay marriage in North Carolina, will inevitably be brought up all year since the vote is not until May. Therefore, I am going to address this nonsense now and not bring it up again unless absolutely necessary. The simple truth is that this would be a total non-issue if the Federal Constitution were enforced as it is actually written (a tall order these days, I know, but let’s see if I can even get the Young Democrats on board with this one).

To the progressives: good job. You get just about every other issue wrong, but for some reason you decided to side with individual liberty and equal justice this time and you deserve credit. I would like to point out that the libertarians deserve credit as well for siding with individual liberty and equal justice consistently.

Now, to my conservative friends: Get your story straight! When it is convenient the social conservatives proclaim unabashed support for and fidelity to the Constitution, but when it violates their pretty little sensibilities to allow a same sex couple to get married, they have shown themselves perfectly willing to throw the Constitution under the bus. If you support the Constitution, you support all of it, all the time, not just when it lines up with your personal tastes.

I direct you to Article IV, Section I. It states that, “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State”. For those of you who have a hard time deciphering the law jargon, this basically means that each state must recognize the legitimacy of the legal actions of another state. This is mostly seen by having driver’s licenses issued in one state be valid in another state, but marriage certificates are likewise legal actions that have to be recognized by all other states. Therefore, if one state issues a marriage license to a gay couple, and North Carolina refuses to recognize it because of this Amendment, then North Carolina is in violation of the Federal Constitution. In short, this whole issue should be a seen as a charade because whenever a gay couple receives a marriage license from Vermont, for example, North Carolina must recognize it or be in violation of the Federal Constitution.

Now, social conservatives, if you still oppose gay marriage because you believe that your version of a biblical argument supersedes the Constitution, I beg you to accept that, while Judeo-Christian morality may define your personal life, it cannot be, and should not be, forcibly imposed on your fellow citizens through the government.

You may very well think that marriage is a sacred institution that will be defiled by the inclusion of homosexuals, but here are three things that you might want to consider. First, and most simply, the Christian arguments that you employ in your crusade against gay marriage also tell us that it is not up to humanity to decide what constitutes a sacred union; it’s up to Him. Second, no one is forcing your church to recognize or perform these marriages; only the government has to recognize them. This would simply mean that homosexual couples would enjoy the same spousal rights (filing taxes as a couple, having an easier time adopting children out of a broken foster care system, etc.) as straight couples. And third, you do not want the government to have the ability to legislate morality. Think about the implications of giving the government that power. Would you be so thrilled if a hypothetical movement, which thought that limiting the global population through forced abortion was a moral cause, gained strength, and they used the power that you want to give the government to enforce their moral code? Absolutely not! When citizens give the government the power to enforce morality, it can be used against them when the government changes its view of what is moral behavior.

The Tunnel Of Oppression: A Review


Last night, I experienced oppression. Being a white, American, Catholic, middle-class, privileged, heterosexual, conservative male, I had never before been able to experience oppression first-hand. Luckily, the RHA and a number of other groups decided to host a Tunnel of Oppression for people such as myself, so that we could “engage … in an immersive experience of scenes where participants experience first-hand different forms of oppression through interactive acting, viewing monologues, and multimedia.” In short, the experience was something of a liberal haunted house, where instead of being spooked by ghosts and goblins, you are instead spooked by such things as Border Patrol Agents, homophobia, and identity crises.

I am not sure if this was planned or not, but the entire first floor of Cobb is currently covered in Harry Potter decorations, which really did nothing to dispel my haunted house theory. Nevertheless, our tour of the Tunnel began as we walked into the room with the signage of Platform 9¾ hanging over the door. The first exercise (following the Roller-coaster-like introduction, where we were informed that we could of course step out of the Tunnel if the experience was too much for us) was one of those if-this-applies-to-you-step-forward (or backward) gigs. However, the only purpose of these questions seemed to be to segregate the white, American, Catholic, middle-class, privileged, heterosexual, conservative males from the rest of the group. My hypothesis was proved correct, when at the end of the exercise, my companion and I were standing in the front of the room and the six or so black members of our group (among whom was one-time presidential candidate, Joe Levin-Manning) were at the very back of the room. Maybe that makes me an oppressor? I prefer to blame this result on my altitudinal disability and the fact that this disability requires me to take smaller steps which would allow those in the room with longer legs to more easily move away from me.

Following this, we were each given a nametag with various derogatory names on them. I was a “Towel-Head.” We then proceeded down a flight of stairs (at which point the “Gimp” in the group was forced to take an elevator), passed a group of homeless people, and viewed a display that appeared to bemoan the existence of wheelchair ramps in the world. I cannot even pretend to understand what makes wheelchair ramps so oppressive, but the fun does not end there. We then viewed a skit of sorts that discussed the problems that revolve around self-image, weight, etc. The next part of the tour was absolutely classic.

Walking down the hall, we were confronted by two police officers, who lined us up against a wall and began checking IDs. However, they did not of course check everyone’s ID, just mine (the “Towel-Head”) and the “Wet-backer,” who upon being unable to produce ID, they promptly arrested. I will also note that the two officers had clearly defined and greatly exaggerated Southern accents. This was one of my main critiques of the Tunnel. Rather than provoking a substantive discussion about policy issues, the Tunnelers preferred to set up caricatures, straw men, and gross generalizations. In this case, they characterized those officers who legally enforce immigration laws as nothing but stupid, Southern hicks who hate Mexicans. There is, of course, plenty of room to debate immigration laws, but characterizing the current situation in this way was quite childish.

They also seemed to deride profiling techniques that law enforcement officials often use to catch criminals. But is that not what police work is supposed to be? In order to catch the bad guys, you have to have some idea of what they look like. If you know that your crook has a huge scar down the side of his face, wouldn’t it make sense to more closely examine those people with scars down their faces? There is no point in examining the people without scars, as you know your crook has a scar. The same principle applies to race.

We next moved on to the GLBTWXYZ room, where two people impersonating Evangelical Christians accosted the “Homo” in the group and began calling down fire and brimstone. There were several problems with this display. The first was that the Tunnel people were again setting up a straw man. Not everyone who disagrees with the idea that homosexual couples can enter into a traditional marriage is by definition homophobic. There is room for substantive disagreement on the issue without having to descend to petty name-calling. The two performers also did their best to use rather exaggerated Southern accents while they rattled off Bible quotes. The fact that this accent kept popping up throughout the tour indicates that the organizers of this little event have a rather low opinion of people who live south of the Mason-Dixon Line. This may be in part because the South tends to be the more conservative part of the country, but that is just a guess. If I was from the South, I would be insulted. However, in light of what I learned last night, I am doing my best to feel insulted on behalf of Southerners.

We next moved onto a display about world religions, which had nice little diagrams about what various people around the world believe. A few minutes later, we were rounded up by some guerrilla fighters and gassed. While we were being gassed, we had the opportunity to learn about genocide around the world and listen to a clip of people being gassed. This part of the tour seemed to do a good job of trivializing some of the larger mass killings of the 20th century. The two comical and absurd guerrilla fighters coupled with the tape of the gassing and the pictures of children killed by genocide taped along the inside of a play-gas chamber seemed a rather inappropriate and irreverent way of discussing this rather somber topic.

We then moved on to a performance on relationship violence. There was a noticeable hole in this performance though. Considering that the Tunnel seemed oriented to exposing students to oppression in all its forms, you would think that in this part of the tour, they would have included both a male and a female who could talk to the issues of relationship violence. Alas, they did not. Instead, I was treated to two women pouring out the stories of their oppression. While they claimed that the stories were true, the way in which they were told seemed to suggest that they were at least partially manufactured and that they were about as true as any of the stories told by the Democrats any time they talk about health care.

The final room was very strange. We talked about race relations. There were three speakers. The first one was an Asian woman who complained about getting a B on a test and was afraid of the abuse her parents would rain down upon her. This one was hard to take seriously, as it replicated the stereotype (which I thought we were supposed to move beyond) that all Asians are rocket scientists and their parents slave drivers when it comes to school. We then heard from a black man from New Orleans who complained about the lack of resources for black people after Hurricane Katrina and in relation to schooling. Of course, the common denominator in both those problems is the government, which he did not seem to appreciate. Somehow it is my fault as a white, American, Catholic, middle-class, privileged, heterosexual, conservative male that he suffered during the hurricane and that he went to a poor school. I would suggest that he instead look towards the government of Louisiana as the originator of his problems.

We then heard from a Latina woman who complained about how hard it is to get a visa and how people like her do the “dirty work that Americans don’t want to do.” A discussion about immigration policy is a topic for another post; however, her last comment nearly set me off. To be blunt, it is simply not true. As a white, American, Catholic, middle-class, privileged, heterosexual, conservative male, I have done such “dirty” work, even alongside migrant farmworkers. I have worked in a field and done all sorts of unpleasant work. And I know that I am not the only white, American, Catholic, middle-class, privileged, heterosexual, conservative male to do it. It is not fun, but it pays, which is why people do it, especially in this economy.

Finally, we were treated to the woes of a woman who is half-white and half-black. She seemed intensely fixated on the color of her skin and whether she should consider herself a black person or a white person. She concluded by saying that a new race is emerging “mixed, bi-racial, or multi-racial.” I will suggest that it does not matter what she decides to call herself. As Dr. Martin Luther King suggests, what matters is the content of your character, who you are as a person, and what you decide to do with your life. The color of your skin or your race should be insignificant details.

The Tour ended when we entered the Hallway of Happiness and were debriefed in a kumbaya session afterwards (what is a liberal feel-good event without one?). Thus ended the haunted house and the Tunnel. I suppose that most people come away feeling like they have really accomplished something and have successfully been made aware of oppression in the world. I came away convinced that the people running RHA are insane and wondering how anyone could want to spend three days of their life running such a thing. As far as awareness goes, I am now more aware of just how ridiculous these sorts of events are and to what depths some people will descend when they attempt to debate politics. It was a fun experience though. It was a neat twist on people watching, and provided me with valuable insight into the liberal mind. One thing I might suggest they add is a section on political and intellectual oppression. I wonder how they might have reacted had I worn my official Carolina Review t-shirt to this event. My instinct tells me it would have been rather ironic to observe.