The Discreet Charm of Bigotry

Last week the Bozeman Chronicle published an article titled “Queer students say MSU campus intolerant,” which was in response to a list of demands set forth by Queer-Straight Alliance. These demands included: gender neutral bathrooms and locker rooms as well as roommate screening. This received some extreme backlash in the comments section from former University Seminar 101 instructor Kevin Kervick. Kervick taught US 101 last semester, and is not currently employed at MSU.  

According to their website, the purpose of University Seminar includes creating a “learning environment [which] promotes vibrant interactions between first-year students [and] a faculty member.” Being that these courses are geared towards creating supportive and fruitful relationships between the students and the instructor, it is inappropriate that Kervick — a US 101 instructor —  should make such comments in a public forum. US 101 emphasizes “understanding in a supportive and truly collegiate manner.” Kervick did the opposite when he made hateful comments in a public forum that he knew would be read by MSU students. Kervick’s comments contribute to the constant discrimination that LGBTQ students already face, and in a much more personal sense as a former teacher.

Kervick claimed that “The one group being victimized by this nonsense are heterosexual white males.” This is an obvious fallacy from the get-go, because his straw man argument (an argument that tries to refute an argument by refuting something the arguer did not even present) should at least include the gays victimizing straight women as well.

Kervick is giving a reactionary response to something that he feels is threatening his way of life, even though all it is trying to do is allow people of different lifestyles to be given the same freedoms he enjoys on a regular basis, and freedoms which in no way hinder him from doing so. He goes on to say claims of discrimination against LGBTQ students are hoaxes “for cash and status.” Even as a straight white male, I know I would be lying to myself if I tried to say that was true. I have personally seen discrimination against queer students, misogyny and racism on campus, so it is not true that “many of these perceived transgressions are imagined or created to achieve political goals” or that MSU’s campus is the “wonderful place of inclusion and freedom to be whomever one wants to be” that he claims it is. Or maybe it is for people like me and him, because I have personally never experienced any discrimination against myself here.

He goes on to cite an article from the right-wing equivalent to the Huffington Post to help prove his point, but on examination it does not seem to have much, if anything at all, to do with what he was saying. It does have a link to an article about the best hate crime hoaxes of 2015, and if that is not a straw man trying to defend the idea that nothing needs to be done about hate crimes, then I do not know what is. He also links to a Jonathan Haidt speech on “Strengthening vs. Coddling.” Haidt’s argument is that liberals just want to protect everyone in society and make everyone friendly, but by doing this people become weaker. He claims that that people should be able to do whatever they want, and that will lead to the same peaceful society that liberals strive for, but if history shows anything, that is not the case.

Unfortunately, hate crimes are dealt with is because they do happen. It would be hard to argue against the Matthew Shepard Act, a piece of legislation put into place to protect the LGBTQ community from hate crimes after Matthew Shepard was beaten and left for dead for being a homosexual. The only good argument is that you believe that people should be allowed to do whatever they want, including impeding on the freedoms of others through discrimination and violence. Kervick claims that, “These Millennial kids have been raised well, to have tolerance or even indifference.” Then why do hate crimes against the LGBTQ community still exist? In that case, Kervick is blaming the previous generation for bigotry, when it is clear that discrimination is not generational.

Maybe Kervick’s arguments would be sound if the problem of discrimination did not exist on this campus, but it does, whether you like it or not. If you do not like the fact that organizations like QSA exist to protect students on campus, then you should be focusing your efforts on helping groups like QSA, who want to end it, or by strengthening the Diversity Awareness Office or the MSU Voice Center, who try to actively stop hate crimes and interpersonal violence.

  • kervick

    This is the first I have seen of this editorial. It would have been respectful if someone at the Exponent informed me that it had been published.