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"Faculty Members Speak Out," November 19, 1991

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"Faculty Members Speak Out," November 19, 1991


Ronning's Letter on GALA


Ronald Hess, Margot Kelley, and Robert Dawley speak out again John Ronning's letter.


Ronald Hess, Margot Kelley, and Robert Dawley.


The Grizzly


Ursinus College


November 19, 1991

Text Item Type Metadata


To: The Grizzly
From: Ronald E. Hess, Professor of Chemistry
Date: 12 November 1991
Topic: Letter to the Editor

On Saturday, November 9, I watched proTheatre's marvelous production of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," a play which deals with the injustice perpetrated by intolerance, the absence of compassion, and the holier-than-thou attitude of overzealous Christians. On Tuesday, November 12, I read John Ronning's vile diatribe directed at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692 and Collegeville, Pennsylvania in 1991! It is sad to see that some things never change, even in the ivory tower. Mr. Ronning,"Judge not, that you be not judged" [Matthew 7:1].


Dear Editor and Ursinus Community,

In John Ronning's letter regarding GALA, printed in the November 12th issue of the Grizzly, he presented some of his emphatic opinions as fact, and strongly implied a number of erroneous points. I would like to offer an alternative perspective on some of these points and indicate the non-factual status of others.

First, Mr. Ronning considers it "cruel" to allow peers to help one another sort out conflicting ideas about their sexuality; but many other people do not regard this as cruel. Rather, some consider the possibility of having a venue within which it is SAFE to discuss sexuality a real service to young adults. Whether hetero- or homosexual, many individuals struggle while coming to terms with their sexual identities.

Certainly the hostility toward homosexuality evinced in Mr. Ronning's letter indicates that, at least in some areas, the climate remains particularly unsafe for homosexual and bisexual students.

Second, Mr. Ronning equated "normal, healthy" people with those who find "homosexual acts" a source of "disgust and revulsion." Since many, many "normal, healthy" people do not share this attitude, Mr. Ronning's correlation is a troubling logical lapse--one made especially troubling given that the letter is from one trained in a rigorously logical intellectual field.

Third, despite Mr. Ronning's implications to the contrary, gay culture is exciting as is straight culture. However, both certainly do include sub-cultures which are neither representative of the whole, nor necessarily appealing to all people. To equate the part with the whole is both inaccurate and a disservice to readers who are unfamiliar with the culture--and who therefore may assume Mr. Ronning's representation as accurate.

Mr. Ronning's "counter-offer" is considerate, in that some people do wish to deny their sexuality--and now the ones who do on this campus know one place to turn for assistance. But Mr. Ronning's frightening logical leaps in the same paragraph in which he made this offer make it all too evident that his own strong feelings have temporarily overridden his training in logic and reason. This stance makes me wonder if he can even-handedly assist students dealing with a matter as delicately and potentially fraught with turmoil as is this one.

While I do disagree with Mr. Ronning's assessments, I am writing laregly to indicate the holes in the logical fabric of his argument. For were one to read his letter without care and attention, one might be wayed by the vehemence of his words. Siince we live in a culture in which both science and teachers are accorded authority, his appending "Physics Department" after his name might serve not only to identitify him but also implicitly to promise an apparently undeserved credibility to him as an author. As members of an intellectual community, we must demand that people address serious issues with all of the critical skills they have at their disposal; we must insist that those who can contribute to the community as teachers do not indicate--by example or otherwise--that an argument based solely on "revulsion" is a viable argument.

Dr. Margot A. Kelley

Dear Editor:

The opinion written by John Ronning in last week's Grizzly was the saddest piece of work that I have read in many years. Though he pretended to offer advice to homosexuals, the venom in his letter made clear that its purpose was to hurt, not to help. What would possess anyone to publicly vent such feelings of hatred and loathing for other human beings? What could be the motive behind such deliberate cruelty? It certainly could not be a Christian motive. Though I am by no means an authority on Christ's teachings, even I know that hatred and cruelty have no place in His religion. Mr. Ronning should search in his heart to learn the source of his anger, for it seems terrible indeed, and could harm him as deeply as it does others.

Robert Dawley
Biology Department


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Ronald Hess, Margot Kelley, and Robert Dawley., “"Faculty Members Speak Out," November 19, 1991,” Omeka - Digital History at Ursinus, accessed March 5, 2024,