GPSolo Magazine - April/May 2004

Letters To The Editor

I just read your “From the Editor” column in the January/February 2004 issue of GPSolo and feel compelled to write if for no other reason than to point out a pet peeve of mine. In the first paragraph, you cite “lifestyle preferences” in your discussion of diversity. I hear this term and variations of it—“alternative lifestyles,” “sexual preference,” etc.—used by commentators and otherwise thoughtful people far too often. Apparently, some folks see it as a polite or acceptable way to address sexual orientation or the gay and lesbian community in general. It is not. The fact that I am gay is not a “preference”; it is an orientation, something that is part of me, as being heterosexual is not a “preference” for straight people. The term “preference” is never appropriate when discussing sexual orientation.

For the record, I don’t live an “alternative lifestyle” either. First, because I don’t have the slightest idea what it means, and second because for me there are no other “alternatives” to my current life as a gay man.

As for my “lifestyle preference,” I guess I’d prefer to be very wealthy and not have to work. Unfortunately, no one has offered me that particular lifestyle, so I just live the life I have right now (with style, I hope). If you know where I can choose my actual lifestyle preference, please let me know, because this working every day thing is getting tired.

We make our living using words—we hope the right ones—to persuade, to convince, and to cajole. I guess that’s why I am so annoyed when writers toss about casual, nonsensical phrases such as “lifestyle preferences” rather than actually saying what they mean.

Anyway, I thought as the editor-in-chief, you might not mind a little friendly constructive criticism on word choice.

Jim Gilbert

Salem, Massachusetts

Dear Editor:

I read Stephen B. Mashney’s article, “Working with Arab Clients,” in the January/February 2004 issue of GPSolo with interest, and I thought that, on the whole, it served to educate the bar about potential pitfalls for cultural misunderstandings between attorneys and their Arab clients. However, it appears the author allowed his politics to interfere with his good sense when he explained that “Arabic clients come from one of 23 Arab countries and occupied Palestine. . . .” Separate and apart from those who live in the Gaza Strip or on the West Bank of the Jordan (i.e., those areas controlled by Egypt and Jordan, respectively, before the Six Day War of 1967), there are something on the order of 1,000,000 Arabs who live in Israel proper.

Now, there are legal arguments as to whether or not the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are, in fact, “occupied” territory under international law, but Mr. Mashney’s refusal to even acknowledge the existence of Israel as a sovereign state and his insistence on characterizing the entire area as “occupied Palestine” go a long way toward explaining why, more than 55 years after the General Assembly of the UN voted in favor of the partition of the British Mandatory territory into a Jewish and an Arab state, no Arab state has been established and there is no peace in the region. While Israel was, and remains, willing to compromise, for the Arabs it appears it must be “all or nothing.”

Sanford H. (“Sandy”) Margolin

Oakland, California

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