In the early 1980s, I was teaching philosophy at Stockton State College. At one point, I said something like, “OK, guys, let’s get started â€” and I mean ‘guys’ in the generic sense.” Afterwards, a couple of the young women in the class came up to me and said, “You can’t get out of being sexist by saying you don’t mean what you said.”
“‘Guys’ stands for everyone,” I said, thinking that my embedded apology had been rather enlightened of me.
“Then next time try saying ‘OK, gals, let’s get started.’”
Justice Scalia says of a cross on public land* honoring U.S. war dead: “It’s erected as a war memorial. I assume it is erected in honor of all of the war dead … What would you have them erect?…Some conglomerate of a cross, a Star of David, and you know, a Muslim half moon and star?”
He’s right that it’s intended to honor all the war dead. The problem is the assumption that you honor all war dead by putting up the religious symbols honored by some.
Scalia should talk with the young women who set me straight 25 years ago.
NOTE: I posted this at Huffington Post where the comments are, um, interesting.
*The case seems to be turning on whether the land was made private simply to skirt the problem with erecting religious symbols on public land.