Opinion: A guide to extremist protestors

Carlyle Addy is a sophomore journalism major and a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected] 

Carlyle Addy

Even if you missed the campus evangelists who visited Kent State on Thursday, you’ve probably heard a bit about them since. They were spreading a message contrary to what many of us have come to love about our school: diversity, acceptance and opportunity.

Some students handled this situation with counter signs, shouting slogans, singing and general joking around. Others went to the heart of the problem, confronting the speakers with different arguments and challenges to try to alter his position, if only a little. It seemed that he wasn’t much interested in a serious discussion. Still, others were aggressive, knocking over signs about women’s submission and shouting profanities at the evangelists.

There’s a certain amount of solidarity we can all find with any of those reactions, but some certainly had more of an impact than others, and some actually had a detrimental effect if anyone was hoping to reach some sort of understanding.

The aggression was probably not appropriate. Of course it was infuriating being told, “you young ladies on this campus look for a career when you should be looking for a husband,” but kicking a sign accomplished nothing.

It made our campus look childish and the sign went right back up. There’s an old saying from a Chinese proverb that “He who strikes the first blow admits he’s lost the argument.”

As admirable as the intentions of those trying to support the dialogue idea might have been, that was pretty much pointless. When someone answers the question, “what is your favorite color?” with “the blood of Jesus,” they’re not interested in a discussion. Students would have better luck talking to the wall of the M.A.C. Center.

Making a joke of it might not have done much to change the preacher’s position, but it created a sense of unity among the students for a few hours.

Meeting other young people who were standing against this sort of thing and making light of it was actually a very positive experience. It really shouldn’t take someone like this invading our campus for us to unite and make friends. As good of an approach as this was, it didn’t do much to cancel out the negativity. It only managed to isolate it.

There’s a great video on YouTube by Hemant Mehta on The Atheist Voice channel called “Four Creative Ways to Deal With Preachers,” where he outlines a few different ways to turn these situations into more positive promotions for different student groups that support the things they’re against.

Imagine if, instead of missing the bisexuality roundtable, those students outside protesting had gone inside, gone to the discussion, packed the room and then come back outside to protest, after showing their support for the campus LGBT community, rather than just their opposition to these speakers.

Carlyle Addy is a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].