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viewpoint

Response to Jake Bebar

| Tuesday, February 10, 2015

In a letter to the editor published Jan. 27, Jake Bebar entertained a question first posed by alumnus Gregory Bergman in December: “[I]s SCOP merely a right-wing extremist group?” If such a question deserved a response, an appropriate one would be: Try to avoid pejorative labels, which are usually unjust and harmful to clear thinking.

Bebar took a different approach. He nodded at there being other views, but then professed himself “deeply skeptical” of SCOP’s mission, implied that SCOP would “link [his] sexuality to pedophilia” and charged that we are “on a quest to take away [his] right to marry and to demean gay relationships.” Besides one intimation of guilt by association, Bebar offered no evidence whatsoever for these very serious charges.

Without evidence to contest, it is hard to know where to start in refuting these accusations, which are, all of them, false. Allow me, then, to lay to rest some questions whose answers should have been taken for granted from the very start. SCOP affirms the dignity of, and opposes hatred against, every single LGBTQ person on campus and throughout the world. We welcome, support and love our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. We want all LGBTQ persons to be happy, to flourish, to make the most of their lives at Notre Dame and elsewhere. We want this for every human being, and we never would have dreamed of excluding LGBTQ persons from our goodwill toward all. These are views that no individual or group at Notre Dame should have to make explicit: they are to be expected unless proven otherwise.

Although “deeply skeptical of SCOP’s mission,” Bebar “fully support[s]” the only part of our alleged mission that is true: “to promote policy-making that places primary emphasis on how any particular policy affects children.” Beyond empirical effects, we believe that policies may also affect the rights of children. Among other areas, we believe that education, drug, pornography and marriage policies implicate the rights of children.

On marriage policy, we believe that one part of any good policy is that it protects the right of every child (rich or poor) to the care of his or her biological mother and biological father. Those who are responsible for bringing a child into the world have a duty to live as a family with that child. This is why we think that public policy should encourage marriage, understood as the union of a man and a woman: relationships between a man and a woman are relationships that may bring vulnerable children into the world.

SCOP does not believe that marriage policy is about judging the worth of LGBTQ persons. Affirming the principles of the Declaration of Independence, SCOP believes that no law, no government, no group, no individual has any authority over the dignity of any human being. A person’s a person no matter how small, and a person’s a person no matter anything else either. It is impossible to deny the dignity of any person, including LGBTQ persons, although people sometimes engage in futile efforts to do so. SCOP, of course, opposes any effort to deny or injure the dignity of any LGBTQ person.

SCOP’s only quest is to clarify and vindicate the rights of children in public policy, but some students on this campus seem determined to think otherwise. In print, the order of the day seems to be misquotation, misattribution of views and false, unsupported claims. In social media, crassness and mockery prevail. Even in person, SCOP members face uncivil discourse. For example, in her first month at Notre Dame, a freshman SCOP member putting up posters in a male dorm had to deal with a young man expressing his “hate” for SCOP and claiming, “No one who believes what they do deserves to be a group anywhere.”

Did this young woman deserve such a welcome to Notre Dame? Do SCOP members deserve false accusations and resulting damage to reputation and relationships alike? Certainly worse treatment occurs on campus, but can we under the Dome do no better?

For an answer, we might rely on the Gender Relations Center’s tireless efforts, but a good recent articulation is available. On Jan. 27, the University hosted a public debate on marriage. At that event, a student stood and praised civil discourse at Notre Dame. He welcomed views opposed to his own, and he called on Domers to take account of the persons their claims affect. The proponent of this ethic, which we all should follow, was Jake Bebar.

Tiernan Kane

president

Students for Child-Oriented Policy

Feb. 9

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • what no really

    ” SCOP, of course, opposes any effort to deny or injure the dignity of any LGBTQ person.”

    You can repeat this until you are blue in the face, but it is not true. Denying gay people full civil equality injures the dignity of gay people. Implying (although curiously never outright saying) that gay people should remain celibate, and implying that loving gay relationships with sexual components are wrong, is demeaning to gay people and injures our dignity. It does not matter that you say you oppose an effort to injure our dignity, because you are a part of that effort.

    Embrace your anti-gay stance. It would honestly be much less insulting than the tap dancing you’re trying to do here.

    Also you’re group’s anti-gay marriage stance will most likely be irrelevant by June. So I’d start to pivot now (although I have a suspicion that your group really only exists as an anti-gay marriage group and will wither and die within a year or two).

    Another bit of tap dancing is you claiming that it’s incorrect that SCOP wishes to take away gay people’s right to marry. Does that mean you support gay marriage? If not, where is the falsity?

    And lastly, get over your persecution complex. People disagree with your views, as is their right. They are not attempting to deny you the fundamental civil right of marriage through policy making based on an immutable characteristic of yours. Because that would be inappropriate and cruel.

    • Michael Bradley

      Perhaps the fact that Tiernan has never said that “gay people should remain celibate” isn’t so curious after all, if one considers the possibility that he hasn’t said it precisely because he doesn’t believe it. That at least seems the interpretive hypothesis that makes the least (ad hominem) assumptions about what actually has been said and stated, which fact in philosophy tends to mark such a hypothesis as stronger than alternatives, including (it would seem) your own implication.

      • what no really

        I acknowledge there is a possibility my assumption there is incorrect.

  • Nathan

    SCOP has a massive PR problem at best and really needs to do observer articles on topics other than gay rights. Until I actually looked at your facebook page, I had no idea you did events other than marriage related stuff. And I don’t think I’m alone in that assumption. I would try devoting more of your observer editorials to those topics for a while. Would help break the stereotype that SCOP is just a bunch of gay-bashers.

    Also, I know you guys feel the need to respond to these accusations, but they honestly don’t help your case. By responding to these bigotry claims, fairly or not, you end up coming off as just obsessing over that one issue (cementing the idea that homosexuality is your clubs only focus). Additionally, these articles smell more like damage control than sincere shows of support about LGBT people, so I don’t think they are actually doing much to improve the club image.

    My suggestion is to skip homosexuality editorials for a few months and focus instead on your other issues. You’ve got a lot of good material (in theory) to work with, and it would help burnish your credentials as being a multifaceted club as opposed to just an anti-LGBT front.

  • what no really

    And the pedophilia thing was a reference to the one of the speakers you invited to campus. So I’ll ask where the falsity lies there as well.

    • Michael Bradley

      “What,”

      What exactly did the speaker say?

      • what no really

        This is not at all relevant to the point I was making, which is that the author here misrepresented what Jake Bebar said in his letter. But for the sake of clarity, they invited someone from the Family Research Council. I do not know exactly what the speaker said. But the FRC generally and its leader Tony Perkins specifically have linked homosexuality to pedophilia more times than I care to count. Perkins said specifically that gays and allies who say people who link homosexuality with pedophilia are out of the mainstream were “wrong.”

        And if you’re going to say we can’t judge a speaker based on the organization he represents, then I’d have to ask if you’d be alright with a representative of the KKK being invited to speak on campus.

        It’s just nasty. If they really were serious about loving and supporting LGBT people, they would not associate with the FRC. Period.

        • Michael Bradley

          Well, the “point you were making” is that you challenged the author (or perhaps other readers) to indicate “where the falsity lies” in Jake’s original claim concerning “the pedophilia thing.” You’re supporting two claims here: (a), that Jake’s original comments were true, and (b), that Tiernan’s claim that (a) is false is, itself, false. (Note, salient to your “misrepresentation” claim, that Tiernan cited Jake’s original article on the pedophilia point.)

          But you’ve just admitted that you don’t know what the FRC speaker said while here last April, nor do you know what the FRC literature that she brought said. I’m willing to bet that you weren’t even present at that conference. So my point is just that you’re not in any position to affirm (a), and therefore aren’t in any position to affirm (b).

          • what no really

            Let’s go back to the original comment in Jake’s letter:

            “And there are students, such as myself, that are deeply skeptical of its mission and utterly disgusted by the speakers it has brought to campus, including those from the Family Research Council, an organization that links my sexuality to pedophilia.”

            What in that statement is false?

  • Nathan

    Because the first most people heard about SCOP was with regard to the marriage panel that SCOP held last year (an event that fairly or not was portrayed as anti-gay). When I look at the SCOP hashtag on the observer, it turns out that all of the listed articles are either discussing that panel or are debates about whether SCOP is or is not anti-gay.

    It’s great that SCOP does so much other stuff, but what I’m saying is that there’s a large segment of the student body that doesn’t see that. That’s why I’m suggesting to have your next few observer articles address different issues.
    -$0.02

  • Michael Bradley

    On the contrary, it seems that this point is rather central to your initial comment, for you wrote that *if* Tiernan believed what you are assuming him to believe, then he is:

    “demeaning to gay people and injures our dignity. It does not matter that you say you oppose an effort to injure our dignity, because you are a part of that effort.”

    You then went on to admit that you think that Tiernan implies that he does, in fact, believe this.

    Therefore, you are assigning him a role in the effort to “demean gay people and injure [our] dignity.”

    That’s a powerful claim, and one that, I hope, you wouldn’t levy lightly without adequate justification. My point is simply that you have no justification at all for believing it, apart from the fact that you wish it to be true.

    • what no really

      My entire response is most firmly rooted in his opposition to gay marriage.

      I also think it is repulsive they associate with the FRC.

      I think this groups is reprehensible for claiming to want what is best for children while ignoring gay children and children in unstable foster homes who would benefit from an adoption by a married gay couple.

      I never claimed he linked homosexuality to pedophilia, and I am not sure why you are twisting yourself into a pretzel to try to get my to retract my comments. I stand by them. You have yet to really address any concerns anyway.

      You’re just latching onto particular sentences in an attempt to avoid my overarching point, which is that opposing civil equality for gay people is demeaning, damaging, and injurious, even if you claim it’s not. I’d like your next response, if there is going to be one, to respond to that. Because that is what matters.

      • Michael Bradley

        “What,”

        I haven’t addressed anything concerning your claims to link homosexuality to pedophilia in this comment thread. And you are welcome to stand by your statements, of course. I’m simply pointing out that you have demonstrated no evidential reason to do so.

        In response to your last point: Mounds of literature exists on this subject, and SCOP and other groups invite speakers to campus occasionally to discuss it. Jake, at least, attended one such event recently, when Sherif Girgis debated John Corvino a few weeks ago. I trust that you took advantage of that opportunity to learn more about the persons with whom you disagree, and that you’ll continue to do so in the future when similar events are staged.

        • what no really

          Don’t be condescending.

          I know everything there is to know about the anti-gay marriage stance (as it pertains to the remaining laughable legal arguments being made, and quite frankly when speaking about whether gays can legally marry, I do not care at all what one’s theological arguments may be as is this is thankfully not a theocracy). I will learn nothing that matters to the issue from someone like Sherif Gergis. I am also no longer a student.

          Let me try this one more time:

          Opposing civil equality for gay people is demeaning. If you oppose civil equality for gay people, you demean them and damage their dignity. My point is that simply saying you are not demeaning gay people or damaging their dignity does nothing to change the fact that that is exactly what you are doing.

          It is insulting. Own your beliefs. I understand it is difficult for anti-gay people these days (ha) because their views are rapidly becoming socially unacceptable. That’s your cross to bear though. We all have them.

          “Go read about it and listen to people who disagree with you” is not a response to that. If you don’t care to respond to it, then fine, but don’t drag this along any further if you don’t intend to address it.

          • Michael Bradley

            “What,”

            Well, actually my response was quite pertinent. You said,

            “You’re just latching onto particular sentences in an attempt to avoid my overarching point, which is that opposing civil equality for gay people is demeaning, damaging, and injurious, even if you claim it’s not. I’d like your next response, if there is going to be one, to respond to that. Because that is what matters.”

            So, I responded by suggesting that you investigate responses to your claim, which is precisely what you asked me to do in the quotation above.

            To be honest, it strikes me as strange that while your knowledge of the marriage debate is so exhaustive that you have nothing to learn from a Rhodes Scholar, you think a comment box for an online article the correct venue in which to pursue substantial discussion about it.

          • what no really

            I’d like your response. Not the response of other people.

  • João Pedro Santos

    “In a letter to the editor published Jan. 27, Jake Bebar entertained a question first posed by alumnus Gregory Bergman in December: “[I]s SCOP merely a right-wing extremist group?” If such a question deserved a response, an appropriate one would be: Try to avoid pejorative labels, which are usually unjust and harmful to clear thinking.”

    It’s not pejorative labels, it’s the truth. People who oppose same-sex marriage under the disguise of protecting children are right-wing extremists who are harmful to children by trying to impose them prejudices.