Everyone is entitled to’freedom of speech, and while some don’t use it as well as’others, it is protected by the First Amendment.
Case in point: campus’preachers.
They come to USF and other campuses around the U.S., warning students about sin and the consequences of their’non-Christian ways. In return, they receive hostile reactions from people. A huge back and forth debate usually ensues with everyone shouting and no one getting a point across.
Apparently, these ‘preachers’come to spread the word of God, but they just judge and pass on criticism. Students who are homosexual, smoke or drink’alcohol often fall victim to these verbal attacks. But it’s the students who respond to these antics who are also in the wrong.
These debates can turn physical, but often the mere threat of tension can get preachers in trouble. It’s important for those who oppose these preachers to let them have their speech and walk away.
In Marysville, Calif., Yuba Community College changed its policy regarding free speech after a settlement was reached earlier this month with Christian student Ryan Dozier, who was’threatened with arrest and expulsion for ‘unlawful assembly’ while quietly holding a banner reading, ‘Peace With God Only in Jesus Christ,’ in October 2008.
The Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom (ADF), a group of Christian attorneys, defends people to live out faith freely. ‘Christian students shouldn’t have to face jail and expulsion for expressing their beliefs on a public college campus,’ said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Heather Gebelin Hacker in a statement.
The college’s new policy’contains designated places’where campus preachers are allowed, Paul Kaiser, the campus preacher who originally sparked the investigation and helped bring it to court, said on his’Web site.
Campus preachers aren’t going away anytime soon, so students must learn how to respond. It’s normal to respond passionately to certain subjects and want to respond with opinions. Still, if the saying rings true that ‘actions speak louder than words,’ then it would be an even bigger act of freedom of speech to simply walk away.
If it isn’t simple for students to walk away from a preacher’saying cigarette smokers are going to hell, it could be a sign of insecurity. If students are confident in their actions, they don’t need to argue with a stranger.
Students who react are no different from the preacher who is judging them. In the end, it all comes down to maturity. All individuals have the right to express how they feel, but some feelings are better left unsaid.
Naomi Prioleau is a junior majoring in mass’communications.