Last Wednesday morning, students, faculty and staff were going about their business — flu shots, lunch, classes, meetings — when an uncommon disruption appeared in front of the Brower Student Center in the form of two born-again Christians.
The men, who would not identify themselves to a Signal reporter by anything more than their first names, held bibles and waved a sign denouncing drinking, fornicating and the “homosexual lifestyle.”
Possibly even more uncouth, the demonstrators shouted out slogans such as “A penis does not belong in an anus,” and “all lesbians look like men.” The sign-bearing demonstrator even picked out several students from the crowd to legitimize his point.
It would be easy to become irrationally angry at the site of these outsiders to our community spewing hate and picking on our fellow students outside the student center. The student center is the very epicenter of campus life, and houses the headquarters of several multi-cultural and diversity-based organizations.
But the group of student counter-protestors — small at first, but eventually quite large — did not become irrationally angry.
Instead, they mobilized, donning “I’m part of a community that supports diversity,” T-shirts, holding up rainbow flags and signs advocating for marriage equality, and standing in solidarity in the same area.
The best moment may have been the three female couples making out in front of “Greg” and “Robert” — just as an Ambassador walked by with a tour.
As students passed, many joined in for a few minutes before heading on their way. The counter-protestors even attracted Provost and Executive Vice President Carol Bresnahan, who later said, “I believe that the antidote to free speech with which one disagrees is more free speech, especially on a college campus.”
As journalism students, we’re taught in Media Law the classic Voltaire saying, “ I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Obviously, as journalists we would not want to stifle someone’s speech, and we understand that many explosive and controversial political issues revolve around gay rights issues.
Everyone is entitled to form his or her own opinions, and, even if it is disruptive and offensive, to chose the manner in which to express those opinions.
The point of this editorial is not to disagree with what the demonstrators were saying, but to commend the student protestors for engaging in one of the classiest, quickest and largest-scale demonstrations this campus has seen in a long time.
Neither side was going to change the other’s mind last Wednesday with shouting and signs. But the mere fact that so many – probably students who are normally politically disinterested – showed up on behalf of their fellow students speaks volumes.