Letter to the editor: A response to Tuesday’s religious speaker in the library quad

Kyle Shallcross

“A response to the library quad religious speaker on Tuesday, February 27th , 2018”

To Ms. Barbara Harvey—Editor of the State Hornet,

Before I begin I would like to thank you and The State Hornet for being gracious enough to allow me to express my position in regards to the event that transpired yesterday. I hope that we can look to solutions to address any issues that may have been exposed rather that adding to the volatility of the already hysterical situation.

There is no doubt that the actions of the individual who propagated their agenda in the quad yesterday was at the very least distasteful to academic dialogue, and an inflammatory expression of misguided opinion. This in its simplest form was an impediment to efforts that members of my organization and those like it are fighting so fervently for, the ability to express opinions, beliefs, and precepts that may not garner popularity amongst mainstream ideologies on college campuses, but still believe that they serve a purpose in a bona fide inclusive academic environment. The only success the individual made in the quad yesterday was that they legitimized a narrative that is inconsistent with the real efforts of politically and religiously active student organizations, where the goal is to encourage the expansion of ideas that are perceptually unpopular.

This individual sought to shove his ideas down the throats of others with no recourse for them to disagree, being counterintuitive to freedom of expression and directly antagonizing to the pillar of free speech.

In this volatile and tribal political climate there is often a radical suggestion to place parameters on freedom of speech because it runs counter to the opinions we have come to define as being valid; regardless of the evident truths that prove otherwise. We must understand that the essence of free speech is not simply giving people the unabated right to say whatever they want.

Instead the core tenet of free speech is protecting against the alternative, being forced by coercive means to say nothing at all. There is no question that this individual acted in a purely opportunistic manner to publicize his beliefs in order to “encourage others” to do the same. For those who were present know that the opposite became the result. As someone who does not always agree with those around him, or is in the company of friends with similar ideas I can say with full conviction that the actions of this individual run in direct contradiction to values that we all have with each other — respect for those with whom we disagree, and the common decency to tolerate challenging positions with some serenity. This individual certainly did not display those values on Tuesday afternoon.

Before I conclude I would like to leave you with some truths that remain to be evident. The first, being derived from our first amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The role of free speech is give us all the freedom to express our positions without fear of persecution from a government whose swore an oath to protect them.

The second, from the Gospel of Matthew chapter 22, verses 37-39: “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” I hope and pray both for this individual that he take to heart the second commandment, and that we do the same for each other. May these verses find you well and restore what has been missing for some time now in our culture — the ability to treat others with righteous dignity and common civility.

Many blessings and thanks,

Kyle Shallcross

President, Hornet Republicans Club