What we have here is a failure of logic

Sharon Broussard is a black columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer who on June 6 wrote on why blacks should support same sex marriage, pointing out that influential voices in the black community (which along with Catholics, evangelicals, and Mormons are the most opposed to it) had come around to the idea that this was an important civil rights issue.

On June 11, 2012, the newspaper published this letter to the editor in response to her column that I quote in its entirety.

I was amused by Sharon Broussard’s column on Wednesday advising blacks to back gay marriage. She cites Supreme Court decisions and references Christian beliefs in supporting her position.

Ms. Broussard might want to research the lack of marriage in the black community, which has been saddled with unwed mothers and absent fathers.

Blacks should back marriage, period.

Gary Easter, North Olmsted

I read this letter several times to try and understand what was being said. He seems to be arguing that black people should not support same sex marriage because there are not enough black heterosexual marriages. But that makes no sense. Besides which, Broussard is backing marriages. After all, she does say she wants more people to be allowed to marry.

Letters like this interest me because the language used indicates that they were written by literate people who have forsaken logical thinking.


  1. Enkidum says

    I think you’re giving him too much credit. The message he’s trying to convey is “I don’t like n*ggers”. The same message as the one sent by the people who, whenever someone writes about an innocent black kid getting shot, respond by talking about higher levels of criminality among blacks.

  2. stonyground says

    It is my opinion that any black person in America who is opposed to gay marriage should be ashamed of themselves. The issue is about equal rights, the same kind of equal rights that black people were denied half a century ago. So you guys have been successful in your campaign for equal rights, good for you. Now you want to pull up the ladder so that other persecuted minorities can’t join you in equality-land? Shame on you, and shame on any human anywhere who claims rights for himself that he denies to any fellow humans.

    Oh, and this:


  3. says

    Isn’t the line “Blacks should back marriage, period.” saying that they should back ~all~ marriage (gay or straight)? That’s how I read it…

  4. Reginald Selkirk says

    He seems to be arguing that black people should not support same sex marriage because there are not enough black heterosexual marriages.

    I don’t read it that way at all. Note that he doesn’t say anything against gay marriage. Re-read his last paragraph: “Blacks should back marriage, period.” No distinction as to gay or straight. His (correct) observation about heterosexual marriage among the black American population does not equate to a stance against gay marriage.

  5. lordshipmayhem says

    I have to concur with Reginald Selkirk. Gary, the author of the letter, seems to be decrying the poor support for the institution of marriage among poor blacks regardless of the gender of the people involved.

    The irresponsible, absentee father is a theme I see repeatedly coming from the lower socioeconomic Black community.

  6. sli says

    He’s being nowhere near as nuanced as some are giving him credit for. He doesn’t refer to socioeconomic class; he’s not trying to begin an intelligent discussion on the status of marriage, gay or straight, among black people. He just saw a chance to take a pot shot at black people, that’s all. I think Enkidum has the right of it.

  7. says

    #1 and #6 nailed it. You misread this, Mr Singham. All the writer was saying, was, “Haha! Look, a black person has the audacity to talk about marriage! Blacks suck at marriage and their community is a failure! Maybe Ms Broussard should check the statistics and remind herself of how much of a failure her people are before she dares to express an opinion in the future. Black kids are raised with unwed mothers and absent fathers, unlike whites who are much better at maintaining families.”

    The writer assumes that marriage is inherently a good thing, and a key indicator of how healthy a community is. I suspect that children raised by unwed parents of high education and high income, living in a stable relationship, would do just as well as children of married parents of similar socioeconomic background. Talk of “unwed mothers” and “absentee fathers” ignores the higher incarceration rates of black men due to a racist police force and justice system. It also ignores lower education levels and endemic poverty in the black community, instead placing the blame on stereotypically lazy, morally deficient black people. In fact, this letter is so full of fail that it beggars belief.

  8. Mano Singham says

    It is possible that I may have misread it.

    What I thought was that the driver of this comment was his dislike of same sex marriage and that he was grasping at anything convenient to discredit the argument of anyone who made the case for it. In the case of Ms. Broussard, it was the fact that she was black, even though the connection made no sense.

  9. F says

    He probably has no like for same-sex marriage, but I think he didn’t even address it. He was using the opportunity for some racist snark dog-whistling by dragging in old and tired stereotype code. And how dare a Black Woman be writing anything for a newspaper, thrusting her facts and opinions in his face. Never mind Teh Gheyz for a minute, let’s talk about You People.

    This is hardly an unfamiliar sort of thing in Cuyahoga County. I pick up the occasional casual ingrained racism from people who I’d least expect to display it, overt racism, extreme racism, and everything in between.

  10. Jared A says

    Probably the editor did the usual paring down of letters to the editor to make them small enough to print. It seems they did it to such a degree that it is impossible to really understand the original authors intent. Left unqualified as it is, it does come off as bigoted, but unless it turns out this is the whole letter, I don’t think anyone can say.

  11. Mano Singham says

    The limit given by the newspaper is 200 words. This particular letter is just 57 words so I think it is the whole thing.

  12. says

    I’m not sure there’s any other way to read it — the sentence does not say “blacks should back ALL marriages”, but it is certainly implied and/or inferred.

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