In reply to the comments of Robert Hawke (“That’s an apple, right?”, Dec. 28) concerning the supposed mutability of facts, I must point out the difference between facts and opinions. A fact is something that can be measured with scientific instruments or sensory examination. It is immutable. Thus an apple, per se, whether it is depicted in a TV ad or in holy scripture or elsewhere, is a fact.

Our reaction to that apple may vary widely. We may consider it an object of temptation, a delicious treat, or merely an ingredient for a recipe. Whatever our response to that apple is, we are making judgments, giving opinions, showing biases. None of these reactions can be tested as a fact can be tested.

Likewise, the act of marriage is something that can be verified. It is unchangeable whether it is between two men, two women, or a man and a woman. A legal contract has been made that proves the validity of the event. We may or may not approve of the marriage for any number of reasons. Our reaction, again, does not change the fact that two people have been unified legally.

As Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” And an apple is still an apple; a marriage is still a marriage, regardless of our personal reactions.

Carol D. Anderson, Salt Lake City