Staff editorial: Standing up for our principles

By The Mac Weekly

It’s safe to say that Macalester is well known for its acceptance of the LGBTQ community. Under the umbrella of the institution’s overarching principles of multiculturalism and diversity, our campus provides an extremely safe space to the community when compared to most other colleges. It’s one of the few places where a range of sexual identities are embraced and explored. Thus, it’s hard to treat the recent string of harassment incidents-involving local residents driving by and shouting what are mostly homophobic slurs at Mac students-as anything less than incendiary. Throwing eggs is bad enough (no one wants to have to clean yolk off of her face), and is, at most, the act of a bunch of bored and immature hooligans. But the homophobic slur makes the issue political. While the rapid string of e-mails sent out by Jim Hoppe-both informing students of the incidents and encouraging them to report subsequent incidents-is alarming, it is also necessary. Students should continue to remind the community that harassment and discrimination is unacceptable by reporting any incidents like these that target any minority, LGBTQ or otherwise.

You don’t need The Mac Weekly telling you that homophobia is wrong and that harassment incidents should be reported, right? Maybe we are simply reciting the predictable politically correct response, but maybe it’s exactly this predictability that caused the incidents in the first place. One can’t help but ask the question, “Are we reacting so ardently to these incidents because we place such a high premium on tolerance and ‘political correctness,’ or are we receiving such a high frequency of homophobic harassment incidents because we’re notorious for our acceptance of the LGBTQ community?” We may never know the answers, unless the perpetrators are eventually tracked down and asked why exactly they did what they did.

Were they purposely attacking Macalester for being gay friendly, or were they using homophobic language as a generic insult (which we all know is far too common in our society, especially among youth). More importantly, does it matter what the motivation behind the incidents was? We contend that the answer is a resounding no, because regardless of the nature and/or motivation behind the harassment, this type of behavior needs to be weeded out of our society. Regardless of the consequences of standing up for what you believe in-in this specific case it is preventing discrimination against individuals based on their sexual identity-without people and institutions that do so, progress is impossible.