Students show love amid hate

Students rally against religious protesters on campus. Photo by Emily Cole.

Blake Blevins

The familiar smell of Bowman’s Den mixed with the pungent odor of hellfire and brimstone thanks to a congregation of radical Christian groups recently protesting next to the eatery’s walkway. What were they protesting? Among others things, leggings and homosexuality. 

The ways in which these organizations conducted themselves on UK’s campus were completely inappropriate. This should be a unanimous consensus. Absolutely no excuse justifies yelling derogatory slurs, insults and threats at students simply trying to make it to class. 

The notion that an in-depth analysis of nauseating medical conditions and how they relate to the notions that all homosexuals go to hell is not a conversation that belongs on our campus or any college campus.

John McGlone of JesusPreacher.com feels otherwise, saying that college campuses are actually the ideal place “because college campuses have all of the young minds of America that are going to be our future … leadership. Unfortunately, most churches don’t teach them the right way in the first place, and the parents have a lukewarm faith that doesn’t teach them holiness unto the Lord either.” 

Because the people in organizations like the ones occasionally found outside Bowman’s feel they know better than students’ parents and churches — should they chose to attend — they corner them. What better location to shout grossly inappropriate statements than somewhere the people you’re shouting at must be? 

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Many students were confused as to how these groups were permitted to occupy space within the campus they call home, essentially harassing bystanders. As members of a university that does so much to preach diversity, acceptance and inclusion, it is easy to feel like groups such as JesusPreacher.com and Operation Reap Souls undoes UK’s progress.

Despite recognizing the necessity of condemning the message that was sent to students by their “guests,” the rights of John McGlone and his affiliates to express their offensive and obnoxious opinions must be defended, even if on principle alone.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is arguably the sturdiest foundation for our nation. Tried and tested repeatedly, the merit of the freedoms it grants has always been prevalent. The principle of free speech protects others’ rights to broadcast their lamentable opinions and freedom of religion defends their right to have those opinions in the first place. 

Discourse is a concept essential to education. It is essential in academia just as it is in the social make-up of a college. Conflict must be seen not as an inconvenience, but as an agent of change. The lesson to learn from those that attempt to harass our students and cause trouble is simply that they are making fools of themselves. It is admirable of the student body for seeing the issues brought up by the bullies on our campus as nothing more than vilification.

What is even more admirable is the same student body showing acceptance to the groups who are normally shown nothing but hate. Judging from students such as the musicians who played classical music as a backdrop for the hateful words, the student who stood next to a particularly offensive individual with a sign reading, “This guy did Harambe,” and whoever showed up and danced around the scene in a gorilla suit, this was accomplished with a laugh.

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