Don’t judge a belief by its cover; get the facts instead

I was both intrigued and bemused when last week’s guest column surfaced in conversation and quickly found myself reading it with avid interest. Not that I felt the issue was particularly important to me; rather, it was the means that the author took at targeting an individual and attributing blame that struck me. I applaud both sides’ willingness to fight for their respective convictions, but I cannot agree with the methods chosen by the author of the guest column. It seemed to me that the goal of the piece was to discredit and diminish opposing views on the issue instead of focusing on debating the issues.
America prides itself on being a land of diversity and differing beliefs. I can’t imagine a world any different, and the fact that I could openly go to Senate and support or oppose any issue on the table is a freedom I should be valuing more. Sophomore senator Andrew Carpenter, the target of much of the guest column, is notable for taking full advantage of his right to speak. The venomous undertones in last week’s guest column seem to rest wholly on the premise that Carpenter was against the author’s views and happened to be successful in his debating.
I struggle to see how Carpenter could avoid “taking control of the discussion” if his opposition was completely unprepared to debate the resolution. What exactly is Senate for, then? Groupthink time?
I understand where the author is coming from, as it is difficult to see a resolution you believe in fail. But this could be handled more professionally. Painting Carpenter as a corporate pawn in a scheme set up by PGE? That’s playing the victim, blaming the opposition for success and for hurting one’s views. The blame goes further in targeting Senate, calling them as “a pliable and easily influenced body of students.” Can we give Carpenter and our Senate a bit of credit here? This is not a campus full of idiots. Let’s not assume that people are being manipulated by every conglomerate on the opposite side of the resolution.
I agree with the notion that Carpenter is biased, but I disagree that it discredits his arguments or contentions. If anything, it insures that he understands the viewpoint of the company he’s supporting. Does one’s life story criminalize him or her from contributing analytically? The column implies Carpenter is too biased to be credible in the debate, which makes me ask: How exactly is Carpenter’s opposition not biased? Isn’t the opposition getting its statistics from an organization of some sort? Shouldn’t we be discrediting both sides, then? It’s indicative of a debater to recognize that they are invested in the subject. It doesn’t mean they can’t share their beliefs or opinions credibly.
We’re all biased. Let’s not crucify Carpenter or anyone else for thinking a particular way or having a viewpoint. I could’ve walked into that Senate room and had the same argument, and I’m sure I would’ve been criticized in a different, but equally insulting, manner. I propose that people should stop blaming and criticizing those who have a contrasting viewpoint. This is about developing our world, not silencing those in it.
For all students out there, please don’t condemn those who are standing up for ideas different than your own. Not every problem is black and white to every person, and personal attacks undermine and diminish the issues.

Matt Olson, Guest Columnist

1 Comment on Don’t judge a belief by its cover; get the facts instead

  1. Mark Johnson // May 8, 2010 at 10:40 am //

    I agree 100% with what you’ve said. Regardless of how you feel about the resolution that will simply put our name at the bottom of a statement from the Sierra Club that will probably not do anything legislatively, attacking someone personally shows, as you said Mr. Olson, lack of professionalism.

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