Chalk on Sidewalk, a Poor Way to Fight Prejudice, Homophobia

To the Editor:

I am writing to express my displeasure over the various phrases scrawled in chalk across campus during the night last week.

After a bit of thought, I realized how much I disagreed with this method of protest. The messages themselves were exciting; they had refreshing advice and slogans for those women discouraged from expressing their sexuality by arbitrary societal rules. Lesbians and bisexual women probably felt uplifted in reading them; it was easy to interpret the sense of freedom, empowerment and self-actualization behind the aphorisms.

Obviously, my objection is not to the content of the messages, but rather the method of delivery. First, the dark-of-night cover for this action smacks of the same secrecy that many “closeted” lesbians feel they must maintain. You contradict the proud message of “Come out” by hiding your faces.

My second objection is to the “destructive” expression of your anger through this act. Granted, the chalk will wash away easily enough. Nevertheless, you did indeed deface our sidewalks. What gives you, over any other group, the right to mar the beauty of our campus? What person, whether homophobic, homosexual or supportive member of the gay rights movement, deserves such an ugly sight on a such a pleasant morning?

Third, I fail to see the goal of this action. What advantage could have resulted? I can only foresee that this will antagonize homophobes on campus. I assure you that this is counterproductive.

The primary method of fighting homophobia should be discussion and effective communication between groups. These chalk messages may prompt some talk, but it won’t be a healing dialogue between disagreeing groups. Isn’t this the point? Community at Dartmouth means being “one together,” not apart. Why would one encourage separation?

Fourth, the immaturity of such an act shocks me. Protest and dissent are American arts (and rightly so), but forums for such at Dartmouth in 1994 include our various newspapers, blitzes, classrooms and other intellectual means, but certainly not the sidewalk.

Fifth, the misuse of your collective energies saddens me. Together, you destroyed; I wonder if you couldn’t have come together and created? What if you had spent the time and energy forming an imaginative, highly expressive entity (whether a project or committee or event) that demonstrated your anger about being silenced?

I’m no homophobe, but I reject ineffective, inappropriate and immature forms of protest like this. Community progress, namely attitudes of acceptance and tolerance, can not be achieved if protesters revert to the role of vandals.

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