When I read Mr. McCleary’s letter in The Chart Oct. 15, one thing crossed my mind immediately. As a woman and a minority, I was deeply offended and angered by such disregard for truth and his absolute short-sided ignorance.

Prejudice makes America a better place? Really … Why don’t we ask the millions of African Americans who are descendants of slaves and those who fought in the civil rights movement if prejudice makes America a better place? Or ask the millions of Native Americans that were robbed of their lands, displaced and impoverished due to prejudice. Or ask the millions of Hispanics who were born and live in this country that face prejudice and assumptions about being “illegals” and “ignorant.” Or ask the millions of women who are not promoted, are under-paid for their work and who face any number of discriminations in the workplace due to prejudice. And finally, why don’t we ask the millions in the gay and lesbian community that face countless prejudices on every level of society? Instead of relying on the opinions of the stereotypical, heterosexual, Anglo-Saxon, male to determine what prejudice does to this country, we should first ask the people who face its realities everyday.

Let us first examine the definition of the word prejudice. According to Webster, prejudice means “damage; esp.: detriment to one’s rights or claims; or an opinion made without adequate basis.”

Prejudice, plain and simple, is abuse. It has not been turned into something it is not by those who speak out against it. There is no way to contextualize the word or the idea of prejudice and make it positive. Its very connotation, and definition, is negative.

Prejudice does not protect the common beliefs of the nation. It allows those like McCleary to trample all over the rights and freedoms of those they do not agree with. It allows those like McCleary to justify their discriminations, deprivations and injustices without any thought to the wrongs they are inflicting on millions upon millions of people.

McCleary speaks to the innate sense of what is right and wrong. Prejudice is innately wrong. I am assuming that he means that because he views homosexuality as innately wrong, that prejudice is one way to keep it under control, so to speak. Well, let me just say, “controlling” which people in this nation are afforded what rights, especially through the means of prejudice and discrimination, is completely contrary to the ideals of democracy. These ideals should not be perverted by McCleary and those like him to justify their blatant hatred for certain groups of people.

No one should be proud of the existence of prejudice. In fact, people should be ashamed that we live in, allegedly, the freest nation on Earth and, yet, prejudice still prevails. I, for one, am happy to see the Student Senate taking the lead, setting an example and proving that just because prejudice exists does not mean that it should continue to exist.

Staci AlvarezSeniorHistory Major/Member of SAGA

Wow, what a shock to read Matt McCleary’s letter.

McCleary argues that prejudice is a good thing, because it protects the common beliefs of the country.

The common beliefs of the country do not need protection. The uncommon beliefs are the ones that need protection.

Happily, the founding fathers recognized that and provided us with a Constitution promising that the common beliefs would not necessarily be the standard by which others were judged. They promised us that, merely because a majority was of one mind or another, the rest of us would not be required to adhere to their standards. For instance, in the 19th century, they protected the Mormons from the majority opinion of the time; and, in Utah, they now “protect” non-Mormons from the majority opinion in that state. In the latter half of the last century they provided that, just because most people were white and relatively privileged that non-whites need not necessarily be under-privileged. And, in the future, when the majority of us are, say, ethnic Hispanics, the rest of us will not be required to adhere to some special preferences of that new majority.

When people like McCleary encourage prejudicial constraints making everyone conform to their beliefs they endanger their beliefs. No thinking person can miss the lessons of history. During and after the reformation, people “protected the majority opinion” by burning Protestants; then, for some time, one flavor of Protestant burned other flavors of Protestants … all in the interest of “protecting the majority opinion.”

We are in a time where many people in this country would restrict the beliefs and practices of anyone who doesn’t conform to their standards. The majority on this campus should react to that mentality with the scorn and derision it deserves.

Stephen SchiavoAssociate Professor of CIS and Faculty Sponsor of SAGA