Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet . . . or not.

One of those periodic rants against campus fundamentalist preachers appeared in the Daily Iowan this morning: Ranting on the Pentacrest disrespectful, lacks taste.
(Side note: am I the only one who finds it slightly ironic that while the DI has added "blog this" to its features, it simultaneously disabled the ability to hilight and click to copy text, making it impossible to insert the text from the article without going through the rigamarole of "copy all" and editing it down?)

Key quotes:
Enough is enough. I know I'm not alone when I say the radical Christian groups on the Pentacrest have worn out their welcome. I understand the rights to assembly, free speech, and free religion; I'm not looking to roll back anyone's civil liberties. But what ever happened to respect, decency, and taste?

I hardly doubt whether any woman or aborted fetus knowingly gave permission to these groups (come to think of it, I have seen very few women with these groups). If radical groups want to keep crowding our public space on the steps near the Old Capitol or in front of the Emma Goldman Clinic, I think the rest of us need to step up and use our guaranteed rights, too. I'm not talking about just setting up a pro-choice and anti-abortion boxing match on the streets - this is a nuanced and delicate issue that deserves far more consideration and respect than it is receiving. . . .

Why should we sit idly by while these groups misuse the Christian faith to scream from street corners at presumed sinners? This manipulation of the faith is sadly comparable to the Ku Klux Klan supporting racism and segregation with Old Testament verses. Women's rights and equal protection under the law (think same-sex marriage, immigration) are a Generation X responsibility, our civil-rights movement.

A moderate is not someone without the balls to be a fanatic; a fanatic is someone without the brains to think for herself or himself. This week, when the extremists try to cut you down, use your First Amendment rights to question their authority and purpose. Or, spout Matthew 6:1-8 back in their faces.

I remember being rather affronted by the particular brand of fundamentalism espoused by the campus "crusaders," particularly in that they rarely bothered to ascertain the viewpoints of the innocent bystanders they accosted, relying instead on the statistical probability that any given college student is going to hell and you might as well start with a presumption of guilt rather than let any of them slip between classes unchastized.

But after a while, I started to appreciate the show, settling in to watch students with degrees in comparative religion, philosophy, and the like decimate the group's logic while maintaining a level of civility apparently not dreamt of in their brand of dogma. Or watching the less-articulate try to out-yell and out-insult them, some of them stopping in for a daily scream-fest. It broke the monotony of studying, to sit on the lawn and listen to the verbal brawling, and provided a novelty in entertainment - you never really hear guests on Rush Limbaugh or PETA gatherings get an equal chance to out-shout the competition. After a while, it also teaches you which styles of debate are most effective in both engaging and persuading an audience. IMHO, the shouters engage the attention best, but its the logicians that persuade. Might I suggest teaming up?

Regardless, while I agree that these people should not be allowed to rant unanswered, you should approach the sport in the proper light to avoid the type of stress that will engender an early heart attack.

Good hunting.

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