Response to Speaker was Rude, Immature · 03 April 2005

Filed under: Ohio, Press Coverage

By Amanda Hooper--BGNews.com--04/01/05

At least no one threw a pie in his face.

More courtesy than the conservatives Ann Coulter and William Kristol have received on college campuses, but that is about all I can say for the hostile audience that greeted conservative speaker David Horowitz to the Bowling Green campus Wednesday.

The debacle was truly embarrassing to the entire campus.

As Horowitz said, "This is the most uncivilized college audience I've ever seen."

Perhaps some of the protesters are proud of that distinction. They shouted, booed, heckled and completely disrupted his entire speech that was supposed to center on academic freedom.

The evening opened with the Pledge of Allegiance. Literally, audible gasps of disbelief rushed through the crowd. How could we have the audacity to stand in respect for the country that allows citizens on polar opposite sides of the ideological debate to publicly gather without fear?

Fine. Maybe protesters don't recognize the flag they scorn is the flag that allows that scorn.

Surely once Horowitz began his speech, they would listen attentively to try to understand the perspectives and thoughts of others.

Instead, students and faculty (yes, the mature, distinguished molders of young minds) rudely shouted their own opinions and disagreements while Horowitz was in mid-sentence.

Unfortunately, he sank to their level by responding, but he never even had the opportunity to put together a coherent argument because he was constantly being interrupted and bullied.

A distinguished speaker was invited to our campus. It was his turn with the microphone, and we didn't even have the courtesy to allow him an hour of free speech.

I know Mr. Horowitz's ideas are very different from what you commonly hear in the classroom and what many students on this campus personally hold to be true. Fine. Listen, evaluate and then, if you want, completely disregard.

After all, isn't this what conservative students are told to do in the classroom? Students with dissenting views let the professor speak, then raise their hands, present the other side and the professor responds.

Horowitz attempted to argue that students are faced with situations repeatedly where professors insert their own ideology into a classroom and do not present dissenting viewpoints. He wants students who pay thousands of dollars for an education to be presented with the whole picture and to not fear retaliation if they disagree.

Obviously, our fellow students can't handle dissenting viewpoints. Perhaps if they were used to hearing more than one side of the story, like in the classroom, they would know how to respectfully and intelligently respond.

As part of the privileged sector of society who is able to attend a University, we showed Wednesday evening that many students here don't have the manners of a 5-year-old.

Apparently, on our campus, this is not the case. Forget about academic freedom. Forget about diversity, freedom of dissenting opinion and the marketplace of ideas. If you don't like what someone else has to say, then just make sure they can't be heard.

Not only were Horowitz's ideas slandered and slurred on this campus, but so were his religion and ethnicity. This came from the same people who booed when Horowitz said America doesn't have a problem with racial oppression, "but there will unfortunately always be racists."

The last time I checked racial and religious insensitivity are not values condoned at the University, and it is certainly not the way to "win friends and influence people."

Week after week, liberal viewpoints are represented on campus by guest speakers. I sat calmly as Bobby Muller claimed that President Bush was secretly orchestrating a military draft that would occur as soon as he got elected.

I listened, evaluated, actually researched his stance and then in this case, completely disregarded.

I know it is frustrating to listen to someone who seems to be viewing your shared world through a kaleidoscope. The answer is not to attempt to smash their kaleidoscope. That is what the 5-year-old with no concept of respect or manners does. It's time to prove we graduated from kindergarten and can play and debate nice with others.

Send comments to Amanda at ahooper@bgnet.bgsu.edu.