Disappointed with the fight for gay rights

As a straight student, I am disappointed how the debate over rights for gays and lesbians has played out recently on this campus, with students running to ideological extremes rather than seeking understanding. Todd Carter’s column several weeks ago was illogical, ignorant and not fit to print. I am glad to see my fellow students gave his column a stiff rebuke.

However, last Wednesday’s demonstration by a pro-gay organization was no better in my opinion. Rather than emphasizing a positive ideal of past accomplishment and hope for the future of gay rights, these students ended up looking like hostages in despair standing in the Student Center with their mouths duct-taped. They are only damaging their cause with their strident negativity. The America I believe in is not about running to the extremes when your cause doesn’t get what you want, but rather seeking a common ground that most people will find acceptable. As this school year closes, I hope my fellow students will move from their forms of selective fundamentalism, left and right and toward a centrist approach.

-Daniel Beckelman

Senate should confirm Bolton as U.S. ambassador to United Nations

The United Nations needs help – badly. It needs some tough love and serious reform. John Bolton, President Bush’s nominee to the post of United States Ambassador to the United Nations, is just the man to deliver that message.

The United Nations has been plagued with troubles. There is the Oil for Food scandal where it is alleged that upward of $20 billon was siphoned off the program set up to aid the people of Iraq during Saddam’s brutal rule. The money was used to bribe U.N. officials, people in high posts of foreign governments, including that of France and even Kofi Annan’s son, Kojo. There is the legacy of inaction during the genocide in Rwanda and the ongoing genocide in Darfur. And, without American action in Bosnia and Kosovo, it is likely that the United Nations would have done nothing but deliberated and issued condemnations while genocides occurred there.

John Bolton has been blunt and harsh in his criticism of the United Nations. He has said that, “If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a difference” and that, “The U.N. should be used when and where we choose to use it to advance American national interests, not to validate academic theories and abstract models. But the U.N. is only a tool, not a theology. It is one of several options we have, and it is certainly not invariably the most important one.”

In addressing the many faults of the United Nations, Bolton will seek not to destroy the organization, but to strengthen it. America has for some time sought to reform the Security Council, which reflects the balance of power circa 1945. Germany, India, Japan and Brazil all deserve permanent membership. The United Nations should also end the obscene practice of having such countries as Libya chair the human rights commission. At the secretariat level, Kofi Annan should hire staffers based on merit, not nationality. There are undoubtedly other initiatives that Bolton will likely seek, but the end goal of reforming the United Nations should be that if the secretary building lost 10 stories, it would make a difference.

Appointing Bolton is a reflection of Bush’s belief that the United Nations is ineffective and needs change. Although he has been confirmed for high government positions four times before and served in those posts with distinction during three administrations untainted by scandal, he faces serious resistance from Senate democrats and liberal Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee.

The Senate should confirm Bolton quickly so he can get to work on the daunting task of reforming the United Nations. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

-Steve Viola

Hackers want to kiss Jersey girls

I was reading the March 23 issue of The Signal and I came across the “Hacker kisses College Web site” article. The author attempted to translate the message the hackers left on the College homepage, “Simiens – Legalize Ja – beijos pras minas de New Jersey” with a Web site and came up with “Simiens – Legalize Ja – kisses you stop mines of New Jersey.” The translation is wrong. The word “minas” is slang for “girls.” So they were saying “Simiens – Legalize Ja – kisses to the girls of New Jersey.” Why not try and pick up a few chicks while you’re out trying to legalize marijuana, right?

-Julie Mira

Science and religion – two ‘ways of knowing’

In his recent letter, Mr. Strohmaier accuses me of committing errors to defend my beliefs (regarding evolution). Actually, I don’t “believe” in evolution. Evolution, unlike religion, is not based on faith. Science, religion, philosophy and history each are different “ways of knowing” that seek to answer questions about the world. Science relies on verifiable collection and interpretation of data by the scientific community. Religious beliefs such as Creationism and Intelligent Design simply are not science.

Even if Mr. Strohmaier chooses to discount radiometric dating, there is plenty of other physical evidence. For example, in 1830 Charles Lyell (a staunch Creationist) provided multiple lines of geologic evidence that the age of the earth was very great. His principles still are widely accepted today. There is no evidence outside of Biblical chronologies that argues otherwise.

Creationsists often cite the absence of a complete chain of fossils linking evolutionary lineages as evidence for the weakness of the theory. Consider an example in which archaeologists are digging in a landfill. They find copies of the New York Times. As they dig, they find more and more editions from various dates throughout its 150-year history. They likely will never find evidence of every edition ever printed: some copies may have decomposed, some just had not been found, or pieces of copies were found, but not recognized as coming from one of the “missing” dates. Even though they never find copies of every page from every edition, it would be reasonable for them to hypothesize that the paper was published daily. The absence of specimens from every single day does not disprove this hypothesis.

For over 40 years, the Vatican has declared that evolution was not in conflict with the Catholic faith. As an Elder in my own church, I also find no conflict. Like Mr. Strohmaier, many do struggle to reconcile science with their faith. However, most people do not feel threatened by the dichotomy that separates science from religion.

As a last remark, I would like to assure everyone in the campus community that they would never be laughed out of the Science Complex (or the Biology Building) for writing an evolution paper with God as the Creator. You would be politely reminded that science and religion are two different ways of knowing. If one insists on using religion to explain natural phenomena, the essay should be turned in for a class in the Department of Philosophy and Religion. Religious beliefs are not scientific evidence. Science deals only with natural mechanisms and cannot address the supernatural.

-Don Lovett