Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Southern Illinois University evangelist's offensive speech is protected
After evangelist Keith Darrell took over the Rock last Monday, it became clear to me that if there's one thing that will get students interested in something other than texting and Facebook, it's a loud religious man telling them they will all burn in hell.
Part of me was proud that so many students took an interest in what was going on and felt free to express their own beliefs. The other part of me was kind of embarrassed that so many students didn't seem to understand how the First Amendment works.
The thing about freedom in this country is that, unless you're doing something illegal, people, whether they have the same beliefs as you or not, are allowed to express their opinions for everyone to hear.
While I was out on the Stratton Quadrangle surrounded by the crowd of my fellow students, I heard comments that I could do nothing but shake my head. Some were asking how the university could let such a person onto our campus. Others were doing everything they could to tear down Darrell and not let his voice be heard.
If students were offended by what Darrell had to say, they are obviously allowed to feel that way. I certainly did not agree with what he had to say, but that doesn't mean I have any right to stand there and tell him that he's not allowed to express his beliefs. By doing that, I would be giving up my right to express my own thoughts and opinions, and I most definitely do not want to live in that kind of world.