Jason Victor Serinus ’67, founder of New Haven Gay Liberation Front, writes to respond to “Debunking Professor Arkes’s Radical Anti-Gay Argument,” which appeared in last week’s issue of The Student.
As an alum who, in 1971, returned to campus to give the college’s first talk on gay liberation, then wrote a very strong and angry article to The Amherst Student, I welcome and applaud this opinion piece. I do, however, wish to raise seval points.
First, Idalia Friedson seems to go along with Arkes’ statement, “as long as there are human beings there will be men and women. That is the meaning of sex. And one doesn’t have to read the Bible to come up with that one.”
“Yes, this is the meaning of sex,” she says in response. It is not. It’s the belief of some people who accept the human written and oft-mistranslated Christian Bible as the inviolate word of God. Sex means many things to many people. Anyone other than a televangelist or member of a ruling religious hierarchy who has an absolute phone line to the ultimate truth of God and the universe, and can thus speak with certainty as to the meaning of sex, please speak up now.
Secondly, she states that Arkes’ opinions are “radical.” Radical, as I understand it, means to get to the root of things. If we want to get to the root of things, we will acknowledge that Arkes’ ideas are not radical in the least. They are, however, most certainly “illogical…extreme and archaic,” all words Idalia uses above.
Let’s call a spade a spade. Arkes’ so-called intellectual arguments are in fact prejudice and fear dressed up as arguments in an attempt to give them intellectual and moral compass. It’s always dangerous to label someone as crazy, especially when they can dispense hatred with such powerfully worded vitriolic force and so-called moral authority that they can actually win people over to their side, but it is fair to say that Arkes’ arguments are not rooted in logic.
People who are willing to own their own demons, and their own dark sides, do not need to subjugate and oppress the “other.” Instead, they have the courage to acknowledge that what they fear and do not like about the other is in fact a part of them. If people would only take responsibility for their actions and fears, we would no longer have a world in which people are oppressed according to race, class, sex, sexuality, color of skin, religious and spiritual beliefs, etc. etc. amen. But until that time, it is essential for people to speak out, and speak strongly, against hate-mongers disguising themselves as intellectual scholars. For which I applaud Idalia, and every other person, on-campus or off, who calls for censure of Arkes and his continued use of his tenured professorship at Amherst as a platform for spewing hatred.