Lines blurred: free speech and respect

[Andrae Reid]

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words are no less hurtful.  A protestor in the Campus Center Mall who held a sign on Sept. 12 criticizing people’s religious beliefs and lifestyles—labeling them as “sinners, thieves, and liars”—may have the right to express hateful opinions, but just because he can, does not mean that he should.

It is unethical to disrespect a person’s religion let alone their way of life. With the winter holidays approaching it is better to express peace, love, and harmony.

“Only God Can Judge Me,” said Tupac Shakur in one of his songs of the same title.

The world’s great religions preach acceptance. It is the individual who falsely interprets the world’s holy books who needs education about tolerance.

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of expression.  In addition, we are all guaranteed freedom of religion, assembly, and petition, as is the protestor in question.  The Clarion staff especially appreciates the right to free speech and freedom of the press, but it is not about what you say, it’s how you say it.  Whether anyone agreed with him or not, the protester’s approach was obnoxious.

Not everyone has the same ideas, views or creed.  Americans should respect diversity.  Furthermore, Citrus College has pledged to be a hate-free zone where everyone can feel safe and respected.

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church are known for their protest at Veteran’s funerals around the nation with signs that read “Thank God for IEDs (improvised explosive devices),”  “God Hates Gays,” “God Hates Israel,” and “God Hates Jews.”

The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled in their favor.  It is WBC’s lawful right to protest and express their religious and political views. But again, just because they can, does not mean they should.

Just as we are allowed to protest, those who mourn the loss of a loved one should be respected.

If the members of the WBC hope to influence others for good, their approach should be with love and compassion, not with hatred and rage.

Love a person from the inside out.  Accept who they are.  Negate bitterness.

Freedom of speech and to peacefully assemble the gifts to be cherished and nurtured carefully.  As we gather during this holiday season in peace, we review our efforts to open our hearts and minds and thus strive to make the world a better place.


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