Friday, April 25, 2008

(tri)Weekly WTFs: the truest, tritest, terriblest, or just plain stupidest news items of the week

  • Monday: A nice opinion piece on how meaningless numbers have become to us. As though we weren't already desensitized enough to all those other things, now we have to deal with femtometers too?
  • Tuesday: Witherspoon Sweets to open in Frist? Why they don't think we already have enough sources for empty calories, I can't begin to imagine.
  • Wednesday: OMG THE INTERNET IS DOOMED. I sure hope it doesn't turn out as terrible as Y2K did. Somehow we'll pull through.
  • Thursday: You know, McCosh's Emergency After-Hours is open from 4:45 PM to 8:45 AM. 16 residential colleges/eating clubs, 16 hours of emergency care. Coincidence? I think not.
  • Thursday: Everyone's least favorite gym activity, reincarnated as a huge deal.
  • Friday: I guess I just don't understand how your not speaking for a day is going to help all those who have been silenced. They could use your voice more than your silence, I'd say. Why not speak on their behalf?


Martha Vega said...

You speak up on their behalf on the other 364 days of the year. On the Day of Silence you are silent as an act of solidarity. Have you ever tried to go without speaking for a day? It's hard. It also calls attention to yourself and by proxy to the issue at hand.

Lillian Zhou said...

You're a very eloquent person, Martha, and I respect that about you. I'm very quiet by nature; I go many days without speaking more than a few words. I tried the Day of Silence once in high school, but as it didn't really make much of a change from my normal behavior, it didn't draw much attention.

Jennifer Smith (jmstwo) said...

The fact that you chose to mention the Day of Silence at all in your post indicates that it has an impact far greater than that of the sadly sparsely-attended opportunities that the Pride Alliance and LGBT Center provide for speaking out nearly every other day of the school year. While the Day of Silence may have its shortcomings (I should know, since I spearheaded the campaign on this campus during the three years previous to this one), there is something to be said for being part of a nationally-recognized event. If enough people participate, attention is drawn to the issues at hand - even when it's through negative responses like yours - and that's what ultimately matters.

The silence also allows the individual participant to contemplate the true meaning of being metaphorically "silenced," a beneficial opportunity for the many ally students who participate. While I'm sorry that your experience with the day was not so profound, if it has made even one person more politically active in its aftermath, I believe the day has served a useful purpose.

Lillian Zhou said...

Haha I didn't realize I sounded so bitter, thanks for pointing that out. You're right that the concept is very attention-grabbing, and it sticks in the memory nicely. It's also not difficult to do, so it can easily be spread to busy students who might balk at something more time- or energy-consuming.

On the other hand, I don't think you would join in on this activity/protest if you didn't understand that involuntary silence isn't exactly fun. I think a lot of people have the idea that suffering for a cause makes your contribution more real or more effective, somehow. Altruism is admirable, but it seems we sometimes lose sight of what we're really trying to do?

Martha Vega said...

Well Lillian, what we're really trying to do entails a long process, which ideally culminates in the full acceptance of LGBT people. Given that in this corner of the world the suffering of LGBT people is often more existential than physical (although LGBT people are and have been physically persecuted around the world), it seems that a symbolic show of solidarity is a potent tool in the long march towards that ultimate goal.

By being physically silent for the day, non-straight people and allies can not only call attention to the issue, but also show people living in silence that they have friends. Additionally, it shows intolerant people (dare I call them bigots?) that their views are not universally shared.

I agree with you that in the grand scheme of things, many shows of solidarity through depravation, especially things like the Oxfam dinner, are ultimately little more than self-indulgent token gestures. I don't agree with you that the Day of Silence is one of them.