Protests Without Purpose | Reviewing the Roundtable
Protests Without Purpose
By a 52-48% margin, the voters of California approved Proposition 8, banning gay marriage in the state. This previous Saturday, November 15, 2008, gay rights activists responded with protests. Furious at the Hispanic, African-American, and Mormon communities, and armed with such slogans as “No to H8” and “Big8ry is not a family value,” activists stormed the outsides of city halls, state capitols, and Latter Day Saints (LDS) churches and demanded change. “It’s a new civil rights movement,” proclaimed one activist to the Tufts Daily. “I’m just really hoping that people get involved on a scale that hasn’t been seen since the ’60’s.” Unfortunately for them, protesting around the countries to protest a California Proposition is not comparable to the 60’s Civil Rights Movement.
For gay rights activists, the great example of activism is 1963’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The March was conceived with a specific goal: to bring a large gathering of people to D.C. to put pressure on political leaders to pass the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act. With the powerful image of 250,000 people descending on the city combined with the rhetorical eloquence of King’s speech, Washington’s politicians developed an understanding of the severity of the issue, and the Senate overcame the obstruction of the Democrats to pass the Civil Rights Act. There was a plan and an intended outcome.
Anti-Prop 8 protests have neither of these aspects. Marching in front of Boston City Hall to protest a democratically-passed law in California, regardless of their argument’s merit, accomplishes nothing. It is as effectual as protesting against the fictional demolition of the big tree on President’s Lawn. Beyond “awareness,” there is no specific goal behind these protests. With the aggressive attitude inherent in these protests, one could easily infer that these activists expect the LDS church and the Boston City Hall to pass a law legalizing gay marriage in California.
If these activists cared about real change, they would realize this and change their methods. The issue is a democratically-voted-upon voter initiative that changed California’s constitution. The way to reverse this is a constitutional amendment to reverse it, either by the California legislature or by voter initiative. Alas, while gay rights activists utilize useless tactics like marches in Boston and other non-California cities to show solidarity and relive the glorious 60’s, the other side plays by the rules and enjoys its victory. Someone’s doing it wrong.
Reviewing the Roundtable
The Tufts Roundtable has been making waves in the campus publication scene, as it released its first issue on October 30th. The Roundtable is a magazine that claims its purpose is to fill the void of open political debate on campus. With funding from the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, the first twenty-four page issue featured articles examining the 2008 presidential election, abortion, missiles in Eastern Europe, Pakistan, and the resolution approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last summer apologizing for slavery. Some articles follow a typical point-counterpoint formula, while others do not. The magazine hopes to solicit opinions from members of the Tufts student body and eventually the greater Medford and Somerville communities.
This publication exhibits a noble effort by members of the Tufts student body who find themselves unable to live in an environment that once only housed publications that spew partisan rhetoric. Publications like the Tufts Democrat-sponsored Forum, and the independent conservative journal, the Source, are thought to be too partisan for students and the articles emitted from such sources are to be dismissed because they are inherently biased. Perhaps The Roundtable believes that Tufts students are unable to decode biased, illogical arguments from well thought out constructive ones. Instead of reading journalism that features writers of libertarian, conservative, liberal, or neo-socialist backgrounds, the Roundtable gives readers watered-down arguments that are meant to represent one of two possible sides. It is assumed that there will only be two possible viewpoints for the controversial issues it aims to tackle, each of which are derived from one of the two major American parties.
With the publication’s current format, it will be exciting to see how The Roundtable synthesizes the discourse it is supposed to be publishing. Claiming to be a news source that publishes discourse is a task modern media has tried to conquer but with little success. History shows us that it is better to stick to putting forth one view and not two watered down versions meant to simulate an open argument. A primary concern should be the sheer lack of possible contributors who can accurately articulate libertarian, conservative, or neo-conservative opinions that form the counterpoints to the mainstream, socialist, pro-big government arguments that will stem from the majority of Tufts contributors. The Roundtable cannot rely on noted Republican Chas Morrison to always represent this perspective. The chances of the existence of other potential writers that can represent a minority opinion look grim. If they are not writing for a publication now, they have most likely decided it would be better to not contribute to any media than to out oneself as a conservative at Tufts. There will be a problem when the magazine is simply unable to find an opposing conservative viewpoint. If it were to still publish the liberal viewpoint originally intended to accompany the conservative one, the magazine would lose credit as being a fair and balanced source of media. If more conservative writers contribute, the publication might need to withhold some of them to maintain balance, yet that leaves it to the discretion of its editors in deciding which arguments are worthy of being published.
The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service summarizes the Tufts Roundtable as Tufts’ first regular publication that showcases a full range of political views. What students got on October 30th was a glossy, non-student backed publication that featured watered down arguments, noncontroversial subject matter, and at least one article that guilts readers into feeling racist if they disagree with it (this time one justifying a Congressional apology for slavery). If all political views are to be represented, students should also look forward to hearing arguments for fascism, anarchy, and theocratic government. So far these opinions remain unvoiced and the supposed roundtable remains predictably flat. Hopefully, the students and staff responsible for the Roundtable will demonstrate more effort in creating a publication that lives up to its name.