Letters to the Editor

Phobia folly

July 11, 2012


To the editor:

Americans today certainly continue the grand tradition of ad hominem attacks (the practice of attacking the individual and ignoring their arguments). Now we do it in a new manner, by labeling our opponents with phobias despite how clinical it really is. A common term in my field of study has been “Islamophobia.” We also have “homophobia,” which is now a household word, and I know what it is like to be labeled as such. Never mind my friends who are homosexual. Never mind the fact that I never suffer anxieties or nervousness when spending time with someone who is homosexual, whether a stranger or a friend, over coffee. No, I am called “homophobic” because I am persuaded that legalizing same-sex marriage is bad public policy.

The Oxford dictionary defines a “phobia” as an extreme or irrational fear of something. People with genuine phobias are often handicapped and frustrated by fears that can limit otherwise normal behavior. They dislike their phobias and often undergo treatment to cure them. Behavior can be homophobic. The arguments of those opposed to same-sex marriage often are not. We Americans hurt ourselves in the long run when we reduce our opponents’ opinions to nothing more than phobias. It is insensitive to those who suffer genuine phobias, and it muddies the civil discourse as we label our opponents and completely sidestep their arguments.


Phoghorn 2 years, 5 months ago

Not sure, oneeye_wilbur. I suffer from aibohphobia, so I did not read the letter. I am afraid that it might contain a palindrome.

chootspa 2 years, 5 months ago

I tried, but it triggered a bout of stultophobia.

supersadie 2 years, 5 months ago

He's saying it's ok for him to be against equality for homosexual people, because it's a conscious decision made with what he perceives to be his rational mind. Yeah, right.

Nothing to do with an irrational fear then. Mm.

Abdu Omar 2 years, 5 months ago

Sadie, we can hate the sin but love the sinner. I believe that the sin is worse than the sinner, don't you? It depends on the sin, I suppose, but we put people away for comitting certain sins, murder comes to mind. But what is important in some cases is that some people don't regard some things as sin while others do. That's the paradigm we all face.

Liberty275 2 years, 5 months ago

put the needle on the record put the needle on the record put the needle on the record put the needle on the record put the needle on the record when the song beats go like this

pump up the volume pump up the volume pump up the volume dance dance

(you can google the source.)

Liberty275 2 years, 5 months ago

If it was meant for me, I'm definitely no liberal, and any conservative stance i take is according to neo-libertarianism, which is are libertarians that believe in a more hawkish global policy.

I hope you don't mistakenly group us in with liberals because they are only slightly worse than conservatives and I know we aren't near that bad.

Peter Macfarlane 2 years, 5 months ago

Although I don't agree with the point of the letter, the writer does have a point. The majority of the responses to the articles and letters to the editor I read from this paper are in some sad way entertaining but on a more serious level they are a reflection of our inability to discuss issues in a civil manner. We prefer to label or pigeonhole those who disagree with us. We use trite one-liners and the latest slurs from whatever media, talk show host, or PAC we listen to rather than do the work of constructing arguments for or against whatever the subject of the letter or article is. It has gotten to the point where some of the comments made have nothing to do with the article!

We do have serious issues facing our city, our state and our nation. It would be a shame to see them decided by some of the tripe that passes for the comments I see here in this paper.

mom_of_three 2 years, 5 months ago

while I agree with his premise, I have problems with it.. One is making a judgement based on your comments and argument, and while you think they didn't read it, perhaps they did and your "persuasive" logic isn't as persuasive as you think it is. They read your logic as behavior and assign it a phobia. now, being insensitive to those who have genuine phobias is kind of a silly argument.

And I haven't heard one legitimate argument that permitting same sex marriage would be bad public policy. I haven't heard one good reason why same sex marriage should not be permitted. opinions and religious beliefs, but those aren't good reasons.

tolawdjk 2 years, 5 months ago

They ignore it except, of course, when they feel compelled to post that they pretty much ignore it.

Thomas Bryce 2 years, 5 months ago

I guess what you are saying is that it is OK for you to discriminate against homosexuals because you have friends that are homosexuals? That is like saying I have friends that are black but I think they should still sit in the back of the bus.Do you HEAR yourself?

Liberty275 2 years, 5 months ago

Groups including homosexuals are protected from discrimination by law while they do specific activities, like renting a house going to school. But outside of those situations, it's as OK to discriminate against homosexuals as anyone else.

For instance, You can stop black people from coming into your house unless the black person is a cop and he has a warrant. That's guaranteed in the constitution. It's called "freedom of association" and therefore a protected right under the first amendment right to free speech.

I wouldn't do it, but I think it's an example that makes the point clear.

Thomas Bryce 2 years, 5 months ago

The writer of this article is entitled to "Freedom of Association". But supporting the denial of civil rights afforded all other groups except homosexuals is Blatantly discriminatory .

Leslie Swearingen 2 years, 5 months ago

I believe that Issac wrote an excellent letter. People are learning words that sound grand and then use them inappropriately. Civilians can diagnose a mental illness faster than a professional.
Why not accept that this person has an opinion on this subject and is expressing it as is his right? You may not like it, you may not agree with it, just accept.

ghamon 2 years, 5 months ago

I for one understanding exactly the point the gentlemen in trying to make. Howerver like most comments I find on this site the regular contributior prefer to make fun or cut the editorial comment writers a new one, rather than attempt to understand the point being made, so let me spell it out for you If you are against gay marriage you are labeled "homophobic", oppose illegal immigration, a "racist", Islamaphobic means you hate all people of islamic faith, against abortion a right wing,
christian zealot, against Obamacare, a heartless, evil tea party member. There you have it. I am sure this gentlemen is a fine citizen, and is none of the above.

Thomas Bryce 2 years, 5 months ago

Webster's dictionary defines the word "bigot" as "a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices." That pretty much covers all your terms, Doesn't it?

Thomas Bryce 2 years, 5 months ago

Sorry! Just not sure why we have so many terms that mean the same thing. A fancy Latin word does not dilute the meaning. In my opinion, they seem to make bigotry more acceptable to some because it is not called what it really is.

Liberty275 2 years, 5 months ago

ghamon, I assume you are an American citizen. Do you have the right to hate any object, including humans, for any reason at any time?

Liberty275 2 years, 5 months ago

Anyone with a severe phobia probably wouldn't corrupt the word for political usage.

Besides, you don't have to be scared of something to not like it. I don't like carrots, but I have no fear of them.

ghamon 2 years, 5 months ago

I hate no one, for any reason, at no time. How about U?

Liberty275 2 years, 5 months ago

Two people.

Nobody here though. I mostly like everyone here.

Liberty275 2 years, 5 months ago

Just two people. It doesn't matter who, it matters that I can.

ivalueamerica 2 years, 5 months ago

This piece reminds me of an old neighbor when I was growing up who used to tell me that she know some lovely "darkies" and as long as they kept to themselves and did not intermingle too much, they were not so bad.

Swore up and down that she wasn't racist.

Glenn Reed 2 years, 5 months ago


You do not fear gay people. You are simply persuaded that gay marriage is bad public policy. Fair enough....

Why is homosexual marriage bad public policy? Any more than heterosexual marriage is bad public policy?

These are the questions that I'd want to have answered before deciding to reduce freedom on any subject. Including marriage.

verity 2 years, 5 months ago

I would argue that most people understand the difference between the psychiatric/clinical definition of phobia and the common usage of it in the way the letter writer describes. We have many words that have different meanings in different contexts---theory is one that comes to mind.

Mr McPheeters is right in his complaint that civil discourse is muddied and arguments sidestepped, but I'm not sure the usage of the word phobia really has much or anything to do with it.

One side throws out insults and then the other side responds to the bait and throws out more insults and round and round we go. In addition, statements are purposely twisted so that they can be insulted and argued against. This doesn't happen just to people that are labeled as having certain phobias.

Thomas Bryce 2 years, 5 months ago

It seems to me that some people prefer the fancy Latin terms because it dilutes the meaning and blames it on a medical or psychological malady . I, for one, am not fooled. Bigotry is what it is no matter how fancy a name you give it.

LadyJ 2 years, 5 months ago

Hmmm, does that mean two people have been disappeareded? I know there was a remark to ivalueamerica's post that contained a term I guess I had better not repeat in case it had something to do with it. Darn I miss a lot when I have to go to work.

Thomas Bryce 2 years, 5 months ago

You are right , I saw both of them too but I only took them as anecdotes. I come from the South and had heard the terms before but not since I was a kid.

LadyJ 2 years, 5 months ago

I have to admit, I had to look it up.

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