There was nothing to prevent him from walking away.
On the front page, Assistant News Editor David Guidi wrote about a confrontation between USF?student Steve Jorgenson and Micah Armstrong, the street preacher who called Jorgenson’s girlfriend derogatory names. Practically every USF student is familiar with the preachers and their “tactics,” and most are content to ignore them or watch and partake in argument for sheer entertainment. Jorgenson wasn’t; he chose to push the preacher and wrap his hand around the man’s throat.
But physical violence in response to the admittedly offensive tactics of these fundamentalist Christians – or anyone else, for that matter – is never justified, no matter how many USF students have considered it as an emotionally satisfying recourse at some point.
Keep in mind that part of the reason these preachers aren’t facing a litany of slander lawsuits is because they’re not reputable. If the source of the derogatory comments was a trustworthy source of information, such an act might lead to damages, as well as a justified lawsuit for compensation of those damages.
Jorgenson may have “seen red,” and his response thus attributable to an impassioned mistake. While understandable, such a possibility does not mitigate Jorgenson’s actions. Wrath must always be mistrusted; it very rarely leads to good decision making.
In fact, Jorgenson had nothing to gain and everything to lose from his response. For instance, it’s conceivable the physical confrontation he initiated could have escalated further. Jorgenson could have ended up facing felony charges and expulsion from the University. He could have seen his future severely altered merely because a person whom no one takes seriously said something mean to his girlfriend.
Through sheer luck of the draw, Jorgenson may not experience severe ramifications from the confrontation, but the risk involved in his actions was untenable, and the effectiveness of his response was questionable at best. It would have been better to walk away. By not doing so, Jorgenson only gave the preacher the attention and persecution he was after in the first place.
As offensive as he may have been, the preacher was at least within his rights. Next time, Jorgenson should remember that the First Amendment makes no mention of any obligation to listen.