Question for the Free Speech advocates on my friendslist - 1370°C
Sep. 13th, 2007
07:30 pm - Question for the Free Speech advocates on my friendslist
So, it's Autumn at the U, which means the God Squad are out in full force. Here, this takes the form of Brother Jed and his minions standing on the Mall at our campus espousing their (way over the top) beliefs in soap-box fashion. Fine, they have a right. Typically, a crowd of rubberneckers gather, some snickering and enjoying the entertainment value of it and some actively arguing with the evangelists (a few of whom in every crowd seem to know more about the Bible than the thumpers do). Usually, it's a fairly entertaining, if irksome, way to spend a few minutes between classes.
However. Last week, i was wandering by and stopped to hear Brother Jed and his 3
fiends friends, because i'm bizarrely fascinated by train wrecks. As i stood there, a member of a queer group on campus walked quietly up with a sign that had a simple hand-written message about tolerance for all and the web site of his group. Nothing inflammatory, or even particularly queer-centric other than the mention of the name of the group in question.
After some bog-standard religious gay-bashing comments, Brother Jed and then the guy who followed him proceeded to attack this quiet fellow personally. Among the comments directed at him were "You didn't have to suck that penis, you had a choice," "this fag here thinks..," "do you bend over?," (this to one of the other audience members), "homo," and a range of other very graphic attacks on this guy's sexual habits (mind you, no clue whether this guy was actually homosexual or was simply a member of the organisation). Some of the comments were so bad that i've plum blocked them out. This poor kid was polite as punch and said nothing back; he just stood there with his sign, while some of us congratulated him on his composure.
To me, and mind i'm pretty rabidly pro free speech, Brother Jed and his toadies should have been summarily booted off campus by the U cops standing nearby. I know that things like personal attacks are murky ground when it comes to free speech, and i'm not saying the government ought to intervene, but it seems fairly clear to me that this sort of thing violates the U's hate speech policies. I'm not trying to start a debate necessarily over whether they had the "right" to be saying those things under US law, but i guess i wonder if anyone else thinks that perhaps the U ought to be informed and take measures.