As I’ve written many times, censorship certainly does not always come from the right. The left has more than its fair share of Torquemade wanna bes, they just tend to couch their arguments in terms of diversity rather than morality. Case in point: a group of folks from the University of Arkansas is attempting to prevent the Promise Keepers from being able to rent Razorback Stadium for a rally June 10-11. The arguments are predictable:
“I don’t think this singleminded group should have their meeting here. It’s not an all-encompassing group and we are promoting diversity at the university,” said Marian Kunetka, an archeologist at the Arkansas Archeological Survey at the University of Arkansas.
“I have to look at the rest of it as freedom of religion. I can’t get past that. We have to give them that; but, I don’t think that they should be meeting in places like the university.”…
NOW, the Washington County Green Party and the OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology joined forces to voice concerns Sunday evening about the Promise Keepers rally scheduled June 10-11 at the University of Arkansas campus.
Now it hardly needs to be said that I’m not a fan of the Promise Keepers. They represent pretty much everything I fight against on this blog day after day. But you see, that’s the difference between me and this consortium of groups in Arkansas: rather than trying to take away the Promise Keepers’ right to use public facilities to exercise their freedom of speech, I’d rather use my freedom of speech to argue, cajole, dispute and disprove the ideas espoused by the group. These would-be censors, however, have plenty of silly arguments for why those they oppose should not be allowed to hold their rally:
According to Dick Bennett, retired professor of English and president of the OMNI center, that very mission speaks to the groups intolerance of others. “They are extremely exclusive in favor of Christianity to the exclusion of all the other religions,” Bennett said. “This is a very fundamentalist, intolerant religious organization. Even though they say they are open to all denominations, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, they really mean if those different peoples will convert to Christian,” he said.
Egads, exclusively Christian! Well gosh, you’ve got em there. They are indeed exclusively Christian, just like practically every single church, bible study, prayer group and seminary in the nation. But they are, of course, a private organization with every right to decide their own membership. Just like the National Organization of Women is a private organization and can decide who gets to be a member and who does not. And private organizations are permitted to use public property to hold rallies, demonstrations, vigils or what have you as long as the same rules apply to all such groups. Ah, but here is perhaps the silliest argument of all for why this situation is different:
“We try to promote thinking and critical analysis and then we let this huge meeting come in with this one narrow viewpoint and try to promote it to everyone on campus. There’s no way that competing viewpoints could get the stadium; they wouldn’t have enough people here,” added Wanda Stephens, immediate past president of the Arkansas National Organization of Women.
Well gosh, that’s just terrible. The fact that your opponent has more followers and can fill the stadium doesn’t mean it’s unfair to you. It means you need to get off your butt and convince people that they’re wrong so they won’t have as many followers, or convince people that you’re right so you do have as many followers.
I say the same thing to these whiners that I say to the moral majority types who complain of immoral movies or books – don’t read them. Don’t see them. Turn the channel. Argue with them, show them up, prove them wrong. But don’t try and shut them up. Because if you give to the government the power to shut up those you oppose, you’re also giving them the power to shut you up too. Let all ideas remain free so long as reason is free to combat them, said Jefferson, and he was right.