George Washington University student Andew Clark wrote an opinion piece in campus newspaper The Hatchet this week explaining why he voted for California’s Prop 8 on Nov. 4 (full disclosure: I wrote for the Hatchet as a student). Yesterday, Travis Helwig of G.W. blog The Colonialist published a rebuttal to the piece, calling Clark’s argument “very, very dumb.” In formulating his response, Helwig noted that he would not “attack [Clark’s] grammar.” I, on the other hand, am not opposed to assessing Clark’s argument based solely on style points. After all, Clark is a political communications major.
After the jump, I tally the argumentative stylings of this Prop 8 manifesto:
“I’m coming out of the closet: As a Californian, I voted yes on Proposition 8 to ban gay marriage.” Plus five. While some might find this comparison unsavory, I think it’s pretty snappy. Seduce the reader with the lede, and it’s smooth homophobic arguin’ thereafter.
“Not because of religious reasons and not because the Bible tells me to—-rather, for entirely secular reasons. . . . The 1964 Civil Rights Act gave individual human beings of all colors the fundamental human rights to equality that our Creator endowed to all of us upon birth.” Minus six. Bad form to express ambivalence to religious argument then turn around and invoke the capital-C word.
“In contrast, the gay marriage movement is seeking rights for ‘couples,’ a vague societal concept that is formed much later in life and easily made or broken.” Plus one, only because I don’t care for marriage of any kind.
“Anti-discrimination laws in the workplace and laws that protect individual homosexuals against discrimination based on their sexual orientation are one thing. Pushing to legalize gay marriage and the rights of couples is quite new and quite another thing.” Minus one thing. Be specific, Clark! Win us over with the details!
“[T]heoretically, a gay person and I have the exact same right under California law: We can marry someone of the opposite sex who is older than 16 if we pay 40 bucks and get tested for HIV. That gay person can’t marry a man, but I can’t do it either. So am I being discriminated against? Is he?”Nice use of rhetorical questioningto prove a point. Next time, though, work on making the question more difficult to immediately and definitively answer (Hint: the answer is “yes”).Plus only two.
“Yes, I realize that this is odd back-door logic, but you see my point.” Minus 10. Come on, Clark! Don’t take the time to set up a perfectly unreasonable argument and then throw it away in the very next graf. Get your head in the game!
“They don’t want just the couples’ rights. They wantthe whole tamale, title of marriage and all.” Mmm, tamales. Plus ocho!
“So when gay rights activists want to pursue actual rights, let me know. Until then, I’ll be voting yes to ban gay marriage.” Plus one, if only because the final abrupt turn here made me giggle out loud. And I’m the last person to begrudge a throwaway joke at the kicker!
Point total: Even! I didn’t plan this, I swear!