Shorter’s same-sex testimony was appalling

(Re: “U of T prof expert witness against same sex marriage,” 1 November 2001)

Professor Edward Shorter’s testimony against same-sex marriages appalls me. The arguments in Shorter’s affidavit are so unsound that, if they did not threaten the rights of gay people in Canada, they would be laughable.

The courts must consider marriage in the context of current laws and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Shorter asserts that the original purpose of marriage was procreation—true enough, but this says nothing about the place of marriage in contemporary Canada.

The first people to solemnize marriages did so in legal and social contexts largely alien to us: marriage predates much of modern jurisprudence, including separation of church and state, equality under law, and freedom of association.

Canadian laws already recognize that marriage is not just about “the bearing and nurturing of children”: men and women may marry even if they cannot or do not wish to reproduce, and they may divorce even when it is not demonstrably in the best interests of their children. Even assuming marriage exists for the sake of reproduction, there is no reason to believe same-sex marriages would “undermine that sense of mission.”

Gay couples, like other infertile couples, can adopt children or conceive them with technological assistance.

When Shorter says that legalizing same-sex marriage would mean “diminishing a core institution,” he insults the gay couples who respect that institution and wish to enter into it.

When he suggests that admitting them would discourage others from marrying, he insults heterosexuals by assuming that they share his bigotry.

Daniel Currie Hall

Assume makes an ass of u and me “me”

(Re: “Let’s assume that your aim is true,” 6 November 2001)

Rob Thomas makes some interesting assumptions in his latest piece about the Hart House rifle range. Most interesting is his claim that the arguments for the preservation of the range are now flimsy “given what has happened.”

What exactly has happened? A legitimate organization at the university has received undue press attention because of the actions of an individual. So what? The university is continually the scene of controversy—if it wasn’t, there would be no reason to keep it open.

There is no connection between the .22 calibre rifles I fired on the range in 1991 (I’ll get back to that) and violence in an urban environment. As the range officers instructed me back then, it was very difficult to hurt someone with such a weapon if you aim it at a piece of paper, which is what we did.

The 1991 review committee [Rob Thomas mentions] wasn’t interested in what happened on the range. They weren’t actually very interested in anything that went on at Hart House, to be frank. If they had been listened to, the entire Founder’s Prayer would have been chiseled off the walls of the House and dumped in Taddle Creek. There is no doubt that firearms are “closely associated with violence.” So are a variety of other things, such as gasoline and alcohol. This is as true now as it was in 1991. Some reasoned debate must return to this issue. The Rifle Range is a valuable part of the total environment that is Hart House. Its members are a vibrant part of the campus life that thrives there. It is not a threat to anyone, and those who use it cherish it.

One can fire a gun and be a pacifist. I know, because I did and I am. If Rob Thomas wants to aim at urban violence, his slap at Hart House missed the target.

Charles Levi,
Acting Chair, Music Commitee of Hart House

Were you at the same game I was?

(Re: “Host falls short at Nationals,” 6 November 2001)

I am going to have to assume from [Spencer Davis’] article, “Host Falls Short at Nationals,” that he doesn’t know the game of field hockey or the level of competition involved at this tournament, and that if he did attend a game at all it was only the last game.

The Varsity Blues field hockey team in no way fell short during this national tournament. They had a very good opening game against the University of Victoria. They played strong and traded domination of the field and game equally with UVic. In the crossover game with UBC, they gave the UBC coach the scare of his life. Again they played at equal strength, and had the UBC coach holding his head in his hands, afraid to watch, as they charged on his goalie with only two minutes left to play. These girls played with tenacity, determination and pride throughout the tournament. They never gave up.

About the only thing you got right in your article is that they were on a rebuilding year. This team—which came fourth in the nation.

And they did not have one fifth year player, only two fourth year players, and not one national player.

Check out the rosters of the opposing teams, and add a year to the majority of the eligibility years stated.

And don’t forget, in this rebuilding year, they won the OUA championship for the 5th year in a row. Not an easy feat. Signed, One of the crowd, who attended every game, and who gasped, but definitely not with frustration as you alluded to.

Diane Dyrdal

Current anti-war backlash is ironic

It is ironic that the current backlash against the anti-war movement has been focused on a perceived naivety. Indeed, it is precisely the naive and simplistic nature of the current War on Terrorism that constitutes the crux of the anti-war critique.

Hunting down Osama bin Laden and deposing the Taliban regime is not an adequate response to the complex problems that occupy the post-Sept. 11 world. Even if Bush and his coalition accomplish these goals, it is folly to assume that suddenly the world will be rid of terrorism. A true war on terrorism should be focused on the circumstances which breed suicide bombers and the states that willingly harbour such criminals. While it may be true that religious fundamentalism played a large role in the terrorist attacks, it is also true that impoverished conditions create a fertile environment for such brainwashing. Indeed, someone living in hellish conditions is truly susceptible to heavenly speeches. Let us not forget that Hitler’s rise to power was directly related to his ability to manipulate the German public’s destitute situation.

Accordingly, a war on terrorism is a war on social injustice. A poignant slogan of the anti-war campaign acknowledges that “there can be no peace without justice.” This statement is not intended as a stubborn threat, but merely as a realization that peace is an impossibility in a world where social, political and economic inequality reign.

In fact, in such a scenario, violence seems inevitable. Thus, a proper response to Sept. 11 requires a focus on the globalization issues which continue to polarize wealth and power in the world, and on American foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East, which has resulted in deep-rooted animosity against the U.S. (and which has often relegated the Americans to the role of terrorists).

Jason Rovito

Fun and games from Winnipeg

Hey, all you U of T folks. I couldn’t help but notice that most of your letter submissions were very politically minded. This is good; however, I think that you should find some light-heartedness amongst today’s trials and tribulations. University life can be scary enough. Why make it harder?

I’m from Winnipeg, and here we try to remain optimistic at all times, so I feel that you should devote a section of each issue of the Varsity to a column entitled “Rantings From Random Winnipeggers.” Each week I will go around Winnipeg and get people to comment on the weather, traffic, sports, and anything else they feel is banal and uninteresting.

I believe that this will help make Torontonians better people. As for us in Winnipeg, we’ll continue to stay abreast of important issues by reading the Varsity.

Stephen Whitmore

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