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Month October 2009

TCNJ Repents ’09

At about 11:45am on September 23rd, I was walking out of the Student Center only to be greeted by a booming voice shouting, “Homosexuals must repent!” I then noticed a man fashioning a “Jesus Saves From Hell” shirt and army fatigue pants. He was toting a large sign reading “WARNING: GOD HATERS, FORNICATORS, DRUNKS, MOCKERS, ADULTERERS, GREEDY, THIEVES, LIARS, HOMOSEXUALS, JUDGEMENT” in one hand and a Bible in the other. He was accompanied by a stocky man who greatly resembled Michael Moore.

Shocked, I immediately stumbled through my cell phone contact list to call every TCNJ activist I could think of and tell them what was going on. Before I knew it, a small hoard of students gathered at the scene, proudly standing in front of the Student Center with pro-gay rights signs.

As the group began to grow, we were approached by Sgt. Joseph Skrajewski. He informed us that the two men had not obtained permission to be there and that they would be moved. The sergeant also said that in order to continue our counter-demonstration, we would have to speak with Tim Asher, Director of Student Activities, to get his approval, a process that ordinarily takes about a month. This would have meant a counter-protest was not permitted, period. Beyond violating unabridged free speech, this would have been outright censorship and sets an intolerable precedent for the future. Carol Bresnahan, the openly gay Executive Vice President of TCNJ, who had joined the counter-demonstration, stepped in and requested that Skrajewski let us continue to protest. From that point forward, Sgt. Skrajewski dropped the issue and only idly watched. We were lucky that Vice President Bresnahan was present and supportive, as the empowering demonstration was almost destroyed by banal bureaucratic technicalities.

As time rolled on, the “born-again” demonstrators became increasingly outnumbered as more and more students noticed what was going on and joined the counter-protesters. The protest group grew to over 100 students, professors, and faculty.

The two men preached their hatred, claiming that homosexuals are better off killing themselves than living as themselves, women belong at home cooking and cleaning, our professors were brainwashing us by teaching “evil-ution,” and that it is morally acceptable to sell one’s daughter into slavery as condoned in the Bible. One of the men also made the claim that President Obama was going to put us all in concentration camps by the end of his term. “This is good, free country, you’re saying what you want…no martial law yet…no camps yet…” one muttered. This begs the question: what kind of delusional racist hysteria would lead someone to believe Obama will have us all in Gulags?

The preachers’ voices were drowned out by the demonstrators, who chanted, “Gay, straight, black, white, same struggle, same fight!” and “Homophobic and anti-gay! Right-wing nutjobs, go away!”

A highlight of the demonstration was when several female students held a “kiss-in” while a tour passed by. The students walked up right next to one of the homophobic Bible-thumpers, paired off, and started making out. This was followed by a male couple walking by holding hands. Both displays were met with loud applause and cheering from the sea of demonstrators.

The two men were eventually surrounded by chanting students and rainbow flags. Evangelical junior biology major Paul Soon, armed with his Bible, stood in front of the men explaining the context of their Biblical references, correcting some of their alleged misinterpretations. Matt Hoke, Perspective Editor, told the story of the Stonewall riots of 1969 and their role in the LGBT movement. One student mocked the men, preaching about his fictional bout with homosexuality. Adam Engel, senior English major, brought further levity by playing “Amazing Grace” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on his trumpet. David “Border Patrol” Michelson, junior political science major and an active member of the College Republicans who wore a “Friends don’t let friends vote Democrat” shirt, gave a short speech on the importance of gay rights; he said the issue is “something we should all agree on.”

Many of the students who no longer saw anything productive coming from engaging the Bible-thumpers led a march to the alumni grove, leaving the men with little audience.

Some believe that the demonstration last Wednesday, and by extension the tactic of protesting in general, has little impact on public opinion. However, the LGBT community at TCNJ certainly felt the effect of the demonstration. Perspective contributor Dena Lagomarsino, a junior secondary ed. and English major, said, “In flyering for the [National Equality March] in the weeks leading up to the impromptu protest, I was discouraged at times when students told me they didn’t believe in same-sex marriage—but the protest really turned that around.” When discussing the number of heterosexuals at the demonstration,

Lagomarsino said, “it became clear that there were a lot more straight allies from all walks of campus life, which was really elating.”

Besides the obvious success of uniting students and getting others interested in the issues raised at the demonstration, the protest also succeeded in affirming to the LGBT community at TCNJ that their classmates stand with them.

The born-again protesters managed to act as a galvanizing force, bringing together many students of all political persuasions in solidarity.

To those who say that it is better to ignore those who spew hateful rhetoric, I can assure you that the feeling and tangible progress achieved from acting in unity far surpasses anything that can be gained from turning the other cheek. Because of the protest, over 30 students signed up on the spot to get involved in LGBT activism.

A rainbow wave crashed over TCNJ last Wednesday and washed away with it any doubt that this campus will stand up against homophobia, sexism, and right-wing extremism.

Weinberg: I Relayed Concerns to Corzine

Sen. Weinberg, right, speaks with students after an event at TCNJ

Sen. Weinberg, right, speaks with students after an event at TCNJ


Sen. Loretta Weinberg, Gov. Jon Corzine’s running mate and Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor of New Jersey, personally voiced concerns to her running mate over their campaign’s use of negative advertising.

Needs More Clockwork: An Essay

With novels like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984 spearheading themes of social justice in many high school classrooms, it’s a wonder one of the more

clockwork2recent dystopian novels, Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, has been left out of the academic line-up — like a large, smelly kid left out of a pick-up kickball game.

THE UNIVERSE WE CALL HOME?

In this week’s Signal (link), Managing Editor Bobby Olivier delivers what may or may not be a rebuke to the criticism of his newspaper that can be found in The Perspective’s inaugural issue.

Frankly, our staff is genuinely confused about the message Olivier is attempting to convey. His editorial begins with the flippant suggestion that the College should no longer construct buildings that will not be utilized by its current generation of students. It then goes on to list farcical ideas for new construction projects from which students could presumably receive instant gratification.

His message would be all well and good—if it made any sense. What argument is Olivier attempting to counteract? Who has suggested that the College should not be constructing new buildings, a suggestion he appears to be satirizing? No doubt, sarcasm can be a valuable vehicle through which to deconstruct fallacious arguments; anyone who seriously contends that the College should withdraw funding for all its “future-oriented” construction projects deserves to be derided. But whatever point Olivier is trying to make becomes lost in the fray of a bizarrely incoherent diatribe.

It is not particularly noteworthy for a Signal editorial to be poorly written and puzzling—this we have sadly become accustomed to. But Olivier takes an unusual step by hurling an unveiled barb at our infantile magazine, calling on students to “hit up the frivolous observatory” that he facetiously claims the non-forward looking among us would have built, “and discover which alternate universe The Perspective’s editors call home.”

Say what?

The Perspective editorial board has poured over Olivier’s rant, trying earnestly to decode whatever criticism of our publication might lie beneath its unintelligible prose. But we have thus far been unsuccessful. The Perspective values input from its readership – critical or otherwise – and is perfectly willing to engage with The Signal if it so chooses. But Olivier’s underhanded denigration, the motivation behind which is indecipherable, leaves no room for a response on our part. Even so, if you think you can figure out what Bobby meant, email us, or better yet email The Signal—they may be interested to know that their editorial is utterly incoherent.

—— —– —– —–

ON THAT NOTE…

In their September 30 editorial, The Signal praised student protesters for confronting the born-again preachers who invaded our campus two weeks ago. They wrote:

“The point of this editorial is not to disagree with what the demonstrators were saying, but to commend the student protesters…”

The Signal was right to applaud the protesters, whose impromptu display of solidarity was both invigorating and cause for accolade. But their bizarre refusal to condemn the preachers’ hateful and deranged rhetoric was nothing less than shameful.

The entire campus community banded together in opposition to the abominable message that was on display: Republicans joined Democrats, libertarians joined socialists, and faculty joined students to stand against the rabidly offensive preachers. There is no cause easier to rally around than such unabashed bigotry and vitriol.

Yet The Signal, a publication that is supposed to be the voice of the College, could not muster the courage to denounce the words of the hate-mongers, which included “Women should stay in the home,” “Gay people should kill themselves,” and “Obama will have us all in concentration camps.” Their rhetoric was akin to that which might be spewed by Nazis or the KKK; it was the lowest of the low, and at times seemed like fodder for a comedy routine. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine how an unequivocal denunciation could have even been up for debate. But at least we now see The Signal’s true colors—and its silence amounts to nothing less than cowardice.

Rest assured that The Perspective will never hesitate to condemn what deserves condemnation, and will never fall victim to The Signal’s self-imposed and artificial standards of neutrality.

YOUR PERSPECTIVE

TCNJ - WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST?

Concluding Thoughts and a Signal Critique


Many reading this inaugural issue of The Perspective may wonder: why start a publication at a time when it is clear that the newsprint business model needs refining, and sustaining a periodical is becoming exceedingly difficult? How will our organization spread our message and reach our audience with assumedly limited financial backing? What do our contributors want to write that can’t be written in The Signal—an established media outlet? Is there something wrong with The Signal?

HOPE IN THE HURT LOCKER

The Hurt Locker

Calling attention to independent movies, Roger Ebert said, “it’s a miracle any film gets made. Millions of tiny pieces have to come together.” It’s extremely difficult for independent filmmakers to finance their own projects while competing with profit-guzzling blockbusters that are backed by the mainstream film industry.

An example: According to Variety magazine, Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, director Michael Bay’s explosion-laden sequel about wars between aliens and robots, was the first movie ever to receive full support from the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force. The military, funded by taxpayers, didn’t hesitate to provide the use of “Marine hovercrafts, Navy subs and nearly every kind of Army helicopter and Air Force plane in service… all coordinated through special arrangement with the Department of Defense.”

SODEXO

How Your Eickhoff Cheeseburger Fuels Immigrant Deportation

BURIED ALIVE IN 1969

An effigy of Robert Heussler hangs from Kendall Hall

An effigy of Robert Heussler hangs from Kendall Hall


If there was a violent demonstration on this campus involving something you really believed in, would you participate?

REPUBLICANS FOR EQUALITY?

Recently, a strange man appeared on campus with an even stranger message of fire and brimstone. He stood outside the Student Center and told us we would all go to hell for our indecent lifestyles unless we repented and found God. I was proud to take part in the protest against this crazed zealot, for reasons that bear repeating because they are so vitally important. First and foremost, I am proud to stand in solidarity against homophobic bigotry. But there is another reason I am compelled to speak out: because I want it to be known that the voice of the crazed zealot is not the representative voice of the American Right. I am a staunch Republican who voted for John McCain. I supported Guantanamo, the Patriot Act, and the War in Iraq. But I can’t support bigotry, and I am sickened when men like the crazed preacher spout it in such a way as to make it seem representative of my party.

I see the Tea Parties on the news, with protesters showing up by the tens of thousands to cite legitimate grievances against their government. I hear the pundits denounce them as racists; they say we are rioting because we cannot accept the authority of a black president. I hear this and I grow angry. When Bush was president, was I not told that dissent was the highest form of patriotism? Why am I now a racist for disagreeing with my government?

I ask myself, how do people get these perceptions that the rank-and-file of the Republican Party is racist, sexist, and anti-gay? Then I see the crazed preacher spew his hate, and I see how easily misperceptions get started. So I wish to make it known: this madman does not represent us. The average Republican is not a bigot. The average Republican is repulsed by the vitriol put forth by fundamentalist homophobes, and will stand against it when confronted. We are not racists. We are not homophobes. We are not bigots.

Michelson, known by many as “Border Patrol,” participated in the rally

Michelson, known by many as “Border Patrol,” participated in the rally

TALKING RELIGION

talking religion

Maddie Patrick (left) talks with Craig Hargrove.

Here at The Perspective, we strive to facilitate an on-campus dialogue that is more open, more honest, and more substantive than what the status quo currently offers.

A Few Good Minutes with Marlowe Boettcher

Though his protruding dreadlocks are instantly recognizable, little is truly understood about Marlowe Hans Pessolano Boettcher. Derided by critics as belligerent, crude, and stuck in a time warp, yet lauded by proponents as judicious and cuddly,

LET’S BUY LOCAL FRUIT

Tis the season for local produce in New Jersey!

The benefits of foods from local farms are manifold: transporting fruits and vegetables fewer miles results in less transportation-related carbon emissions, and food from small farms is less likely to be tainted with pesticides.

HOLT TOWN HALL MEETING

Early Saturday, September 12th, several TCNJ students attended a town hall meeting in Somerset, NJ to stress the importance of healthcare reform. The meeting was hosted by Rush Holt, U.S. Representative for New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District, home to TCNJ and much of central New Jersey.

THE TIME FOR EQUALITY IS NOW

There are no more excuses. For those who look to the 1960s with forlorn nostalgia, wishing they could have come into political and intellectual fruition at a time of such momentous social upheaval, shake off that misplaced malaise and join the movement rapidly taking shape all around you. For those who sit idly by while your fellow students organize and actualize, turn off your monitors and turn on your minds. For those who can’t tell the difference between obstructionism and neutrality, you are the reason these provocations must be written. This is a call to action.

We are at a pivotal moment in the civil rights struggle of our era, and we must take ownership over whether it succeeds or fails. As residents of New Jersey – a stone’s throw away from the state capital – we can have more of an impact than anyone else in the nation in improving the lives of our LGBT friends and relatives.

Yes, New Jersey is the battleground state in the fight for gay rights. Legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage in our state is currently stalled in the Assembly Judiciary Committee, and by all accounts, will come up for a vote after the gubernatorial election this November. Win or lose, Governor Jon Corzine has pledged to sign any such bill, should it reach his desk. Republican Chris Christie, the challenger, says he would veto it. Thankfully, even if he wins, we won’t have to find out if Christie is bluffing; if all goes according to plan, the bill should be passed during the lame duck session.

gay rights

BIG LARRY

LARRY STEVENS – THE MAN BEHIND THE SWIPE

Big Larry

Photo by Dena Lake