Letters: CSU needs to protect students from hate speech

Guest Author

WARNING: this video contains strong language. Students gather around the stump to listen to a preacher on the free speech Plaza on CSU campus Thursday, Sept. 30, 2018. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

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Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board. Letters to the Editor reflect the view of a member of the campus community and are submitted to the publication for approval.

As I stood on the Plaza Thursday listening to the hateful preachings of the self-described “best pastor ever to be heard” Brother Jed and the 27-year-old virgin and watching them tear apart some of the identities that CSU students hold most dearly, it made me question at what point the aggressive nature of their messages turned from passionate belief in the rules of religion to hate speech.

In the simplest of terms, The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines hate speech as, “speech expressing hatred of a particular group of people,” which coincidentally is exactly the definition I would use to describe the intent of those preachers. 

The University needs to more closely monitor the people coming to speak on campus to protect students from hate speech.

For the almost three hours I stood listening to and conversing with these people, I was attacked for things such as being bisexual, for being in a long-term relationship, even for the way I was dressed. 

Evangelist Myrna Bennett preaches her beliefs on the stump to a crowd in the CSU plaza. Bennett is with Campus Ministry USA, and travels with others in her group to preach on various college campuses. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

Due to their fierce stance on homosexuality, they had attracted quite a few people who identified within the LGTBQ community and they seemed to take it on as a mission to pick each of them off making them feel inferior and, in some instances, breaking them down to tears.

For expressing my bisexuality I personally was called an abomination, a whore and an embarrassment to the church. 

At one point a student who identified as agender and pansexual was told simply to leave because “(Brother Jed) wasn’t going to waste his time listening to someone so painfully unholy.” When the 27-year-old virgin spoke on this topic, she expressed that homosexual love wasn’t real, and when she as much as accidentally came into physical contact with a gay man by shaking his hand, she dropped immediately to her knees to start praying and ask for forgiveness. 

Another massively destructive moment with the 27-year-old virgin was when she started pointing out girls wearing jean shorts and T-shirts, calling them whores and telling them that “dressed like that, they were asking for ‘it,’” and that we all knew what “it” was.

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She even eventually admitted to condoning men sexually assaulting women if they were scantily clad, explaining to us what this inappropriate dress may entail, calling me a slut for wearing ankle-length leggings because they were tight, and a large tee shirt — again saying that if I were raped, it would be my fault. 

Perhaps the most shocking part of the afternoon was when Brother Jed noticed a male student wearing an Alpha Tao Omega shirt and began yelling, “A frat boy? Pervert alert! Pervert alert!” then following it up with a “confession” about how he himself was a part of a fraternity in his college days and how they had “special tricks” to get girls to sleep with them. The cadence of his voice throughout this whole story was of pride and bragging. 

The University needs to more closely monitor the people coming to speak on campus to protect students from hate speech.

Two or three times during this incident I saw CSUPD officers come, obviously prompted by the yelling or a call from a worried student or faculty, and then leave as if this was perfectly okay and even encouraged in the name of “free speech.”

The question I am still struggling to unfold, and the question I raise is where does the University draw the line between embracing a community on campus where diversity is celebrated through a culture of healthy free speech and a University that allows detrimental off-campus strangers to come and make students, who already have had to navigate life as a minority, feel unsafe and unwanted?

I came out of this experience honestly shaken, partially because I’m used to being surrounded by people that send out such a supportive message when it comes to accepting your individual and unique identities, but even more shaken that a University that claims to support their students would allow for this type of hate speech.

Madi Smith

Sophomore, Political Science and International Relations

The Collegian’s opinion desk can be reached at letters@collegian.com. To submit a letter to the editor, please follow the guidelines at collegian.com.