I would first raise this issue in the class discussing the form of the letter's arguments and, next, with the letter's author, my friend. I would then reflect on whether I indeed practice the principles of tolerance that I preach to others.
My initial response to the letter in question and the particular discussion in my class characterizing the letter as an example of bad argumentation would be to acknowledge that, yes, the letter presents immature and imprudent arguments against homosexuality. To do otherwise would ignore the obvious. I would then attempt to prevent the class from estimating the quality of my friend from the quality of his arguments, as a good person can have misguided opinions and make flawed arguments. And, equally abhorrent to arguments based on biases and prejudices is passing judgment on a person before taking the time to understand his or her many facets.
Indeed, it is precisely this sentiment that I would then carry to my friend, the author of the letter. Since he is my friend, and has been for quite some time, I naturally care about him, his feelings, his perception of the world, and other's perceptions of him. I would advise him that, regardless of his personal opinion of homosexuality, his method of presenting his views was harsh and injudicious, passing rash judgment on homosexuals and on those readers who do not agree with his perspective. I would endeavor to be understanding and patient with my friend, attempting to convey to him the benefit of healthy discourse rather than mere blind contentions about controversial issues.
Finally, after having discussed with my classmates and with my friend the advantages of healthy argument and open-mindedness, I would spend some time quietly and sincerely reflecting on whether I practice those qualities myself. I would like to think that I am tolerant and nonjudgmental, and that I was indeed in a moral position to discuss the value of forbearance and open discourse. To be sure, I would re-read my friend's letter, evaluate my initial reaction to it, ponder on whether and how I would write it differently if I felt the need to express my opinion on the subject of homosexuality, and consider whether the entire incident had changed my feelings for my friend or for my classmates. It is through this type of self-reflective process that I can be satisfied that my response to my friend's letter was honest.
In sum, one cannot minimize the importance of open dialogue to flesh out the many perspectives our society maintains. Some arguments are better presented than others and, by definition, no one's opinion, though perhaps misguided, can be wrong. Indeed, critical to wise discourse is the ability to express one's opinions and listen to those of others openly and without bias. With hope, then, maybe one person who would otherwise belligerently convey preconceived, negative and baseless opinions will reflect and, instead, embrace a wise and healthy method of expression.
A. Acceptance and tolerance lead to healthier expression and debate
B. First, discuss the form of the letter's arguments with classmates
C. Second, discuss the form of the letter's arguments with friend
D. Third, reflect on whether I am tolerant and