Last week, Texas State experienced its periodic visit from a brother Jed-style preacher. With his yelling damnation, a crowd of listeners and protesters quickly gathered. Students stopped at the Stallions, Texas State’s designated symbol of free speech, to see what the commotion was about and quickly found themselves the subject of judgment as the preacher threatened hell to essentially everyone. Visitors like these aren’t new to Texas State, but they continue to return to campus because of the attention and reactions they receive.
Maybe narcissists, maybe not, but unwanted campus guests will quickly leave if the intention of their visit isn’t being met. Giving inflammatory and verbally aggressive people attention and an audience is a guaranteed way to make sure they stick around and return semester after semester. If someone is preaching at the Stallions, no matter what they’re preaching, and passers-by ignore them, they’ll leave.
Arguing back won’t do anything; standing with a sign next to someone who’s declaring a message that one disagrees with only fuels their dedication. It shows that the people they’re trying to reach are getting their message. Drawing a crowd will draw the attention of social media, which only magnifies the message that’s trying to be drowned out, which is reasonably the opposite of what protesters want.
Hate shouldn’t be given a platform. While the Stallions rightfully remain a vital part of Texas State’s campus culture and encourage open free speech, hate shouldn’t be encouraged with attention. Bobcats need to band together, in not tolerating hate speech on campus. Together in agreement that the correct way to battle unwanted speakers on campus is through discouraging them altogether from continuing the charade of moral righteousness.
Arguing back won’t force the unwanted guest off campus because the speaker knows they’re being heard. All they want is to get their message across, whether with good intentions or bad and showing that a message has been received only encourages them to continue. When faced with push-back, abrasive speakers like last week’s preacher are only more motivated to continue their work.
– Naomi Wick is a journalism senior