Suppose a radical preacher came to USF to give a lecture in which he or she told minorities in the audience they were bad because they were born a different race.
Would the university allow someone to tell people they are inherently bad for something that they are born into and have long been systemically oppressed for?
Many would say this scenario would never be allowed on a progressive campus such as USF, however Rosaria Butterfield’s lecture tonight could be just that.
It is hard to believe that a university with as much diversity as USF would allow such a backward speaker to engage students with a message that could have real harm on students’ well-being.
Butterfield should not be denied her freedom to say what she wants. It is her right by the First Amendment. However, the issue here is not a matter of free speech.
Rather, the issue at hand is concerning because it is shows a significant amount of people, enough to first invite Butterfield to share her message of inequality and then enough to approve that message and reserve a place in the Marshall Student Center for it, are implicitly condoning her message.
It is immoral and academically wrong for a university to invite Butterfield to share her message as if it is acceptable for the public, and the message being presented is anything but acceptable.
Butterfield’s message, that being gay is sinful and that the LGBT community is thus somehow an offense against moral law, is intellectually backward.
Let it be clear that this is not to say being gay is good, the Bible is wrong or religion is up for debate.
This is however arguing that any message discriminating against a group of students, which this
message does do by declaring their acts sinful and thus evil, is wrong.
The debate could easily hit on any number of other topics of controversy, such as if homosexuality is genetic, natural or a choice, or how religion and Christianity interact or affect each other. Intellectual debate about those ideas is fair, for they are philosophies that can be argued — something that has perfect academic purposes.
“Practices in killing, at the root, same-sex attraction,” as Butterfield’s website states, is not academic, but aggressively discriminatory.
To propose controversial ideas in debate is one thing, but to instruct an audience on discriminatory practices is harmful to the open-minded university setting, which USF should aim to have.
If the university would not allow a racist preacher on stage and say black students are sinful, then it should not allow someone who will preach homosexuality is sinful.
Alex Rosenthal is a sophomore m majoring in classics and mass communications.