When the Signal staff started brainstorming ideas for this week’s editorial, it was immediately clear we were going to have a problem.
Obviously, we had to address the pressing issue on everyone’s minds, an issue that has gotten more than 50 comments on our Web site, and an issue that has students sneaking around at night in ski masks chalking sidewalks outside the Brower Student Center: controversial conservative pundit Ann Coulter’s appearance tonight in Kendall Hall.
The dilemma we faced when deciding the subject of the editorial was that none of us really agreed on what to write.
Many of us could come to an agreement that most of what Coulter says is simply intended to shock and offend for her own financial benefit. The other thing almost all of us agreed on was that she absolutely has the right to speak.
None of the Signal editors jumped to Coulter’s defense, but we all had differing opinions on the best way to handle disagreeing with Coulter’s rhetoric.
Some of us thought that by calling attention to Coulter, the protestors are adding fuel to the fire. By protesting her, they are drawing more attention to the fact that she is both a controversial figure and coming to campus. Taking her seriously lets her win.
Others thought the means the protestors are taking – walking out during Coulter’s lecture and having a discussion afterwards – is the wrong way to go about it, as it is too passive. Instead, they should make a stronger statement.
Yet others took a completely different stance. If you don’t agree with what she has to say, some said, then don’t go to the lecture.
A few others said if you’re going to disagree with what Coulter has to say, then you should challenge her in person. Stay at the lecture, ask her a question and engage her in debate, they said.
Finally, some of us thought the protest is an effective way of making a statement. The protest is non-violent, and will be followed by a forum for discussion, they said, so it is a good way to express disagreement and facilitate an exchange of ideas.
For a few minutes, our Signal office was alive with discussion and debate. We never finally agreed on how to approach the subject, instead getting distracted by the thought that other groups on campus were probably having a similar discussion.
For a school that has a politically apathetic reputation, the buzz Coulter’s visit has generated around campus is not only surprising, but encouraging. It’s sparking a discussion that reaches every group of students. We’re being challenged to have an opinion, and we are answering that challenge.
We may all disagree, we may all think different things. But the fact is, we’re thinking about it.