Letter to the Editor: 11.16.12

I read Dr. William Zingrone’s response to my letter and his thinking in it is as interesting as his earlier missive in The News.

Dr. Zingrone asks us to believe, “ … non–religious group members don’t take down others’ posters (of our own) as part of their heathen moral code.” I’ve read too much history and I’ve seen too much of the world to believe that.

Then he says, “hundreds of secular groups all over America regularly deal with having their advertising materials defaced or taken down.” What does that mean? Who are these “hundreds of groups”? What do they have to do with Murray State? What does “regularly” mean? Where does this information come from? And, if I’m understanding Dr. Zingrone correctly these two unsubstantiated statements are meant to support his, “I’ll stick with my “probably someone(s) religious.” If that’s how Dr. Zingrone makes sense of things, I guess that’s how we makes sense of things.

What’s more interesting is Dr. Zingrone’s next statement where he says, “ … since 80 percent of Americans identify with some religion, if Mr. Herr can spare a moment from his chuckling, he can do the math.” This statement leads to two important questions: Why did Dr. Zingrone choose to use religion as the identifying characteristic of the group he focused on? And what was the link between the events on campus and that group?

By Dr. Zingrone’s logic since 95 percent of the people in the US listen to the radio each week, Dr. Zingrone could have said that “the posters were probably taken down by someone who listens to the radio,” but he chose “someone(s) religious.” Since “do[ing] the math” is important to Dr. Zingrone why not note that 97 percent of the US population eats meat and suggest that eating meat leads to intolerance?

In math, the answer you get is only as good as the equation you build, and it seems the one Dr. Zingrone built tells me more about his preconceptions, than it does about mathematics or about how the posters came down.

And while I don’t believe the wind selectively removed posters from across campus, I’m also not willing to ignore the possibility that they may have been removed by someone who had a personal animus towards Dr. Zingrone, or his group, or by someone who might have had a competing interest with the event. What makes me sad is that those considerations weren’t raised by Dr. Zingrone.

When Dr. Zingrone chose to say that the posters were taken down by “probably someone(s) religious” he chose to ignore larger groups and alternative explanations, and that doesn’t seem reasonable or kind.

And what’s it called when you identify certain types of negative behaviors and you ascribe those behaviors to an entire group of people, and then when something goes wrong, even if you have no proof of what happened, because of your beliefs regarding that group of people you blame that group for what happened? There’s a word for that isn’t there?

Letter from Steve Herr, non-student from Murray, Ky.