Intolerance is not the way to fight intolerance

By By Chronicle Senior Staff and

By Chronicle Senior Staff

Students have begun circulating a petition to voice their dissent about local businessman Larry H. Miller speaking on campus. Miller is scheduled to give the keynote address at the annual “Discover U Days” celebration about the value of higher education.

Those opposed to his speaking on campus claim that Miller has no authority to speak about issues such as academic freedom.

Specifically, the petition states that Miller’s “outspoken homophobia and blatant bigotry” alienates various sectors of campus, and his presence on campus would be to condone hate speech. Supporters say that by inviting him to speak on campus, the U is violating its own mission statement-and that the U therefore should rescind the invitation and apologize to the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer community.

While The Chronicle senior staff disagreed with Miller’s decision to pull “Brokeback Mountain” from his theaters, it is difficult to see the logic of those who would stop him from speaking on campus.

To punish someone for censorship by suppressing his or her right to free speech is hypocritical.

People honestly think they can use “academic freedom” to stop a speaker from espousing his views to a university campus?

People honestly think that we should punish Miller’s perceived intolerance by not tolerating his presence or thoughts on campus?

People honestly believe that intolerance can be fought with more intolerance?

Really?

Signers of the petition claim that inviting Miller to speak constitutes a direct violation of the U’s mission statement, which they quote as saying, “each individual (should) be provided with the opportunity for full, unhampered and responsible participation in every aspect of campus life.”

Out of curiosity, how is uninviting Miller from speaking on campus allowing “full, unhampered and responsible participation” for Miller himself, and anyone who wants to hear him speak?

At this point, we’re not even speaking rhetorically anymore-we’d really like an answer.

There is an internal paradox present in this petition that even supporters of the petition must acknowledge.

Not only is this petition hypocritical in its purported intentions, but its practical consequences are likely to be the exact opposite of what was intended.

By forming this petition, students are guaranteeing more interest in Miller’s presence on campus-not less. They are also motivating those who support Miller to take action, something that likely wouldn’t have happened had the petition never been circulated.

If students oppose Miller speaking, they should simply encourage people to not attend his lecture-not try to stop him from coming to campus altogether.