July 23, 2019 | 71° F

LETTER: Serial protestors do not understand diversity


“Serial protesters” do not understand diversity.

Last week, Milo Yiannopoulos came to Rutgers to discuss free speech on college campuses. However, protesters yelling, “Black Lives Matter” had other plans. During Yiannopoulos’s speech, the protesters would not allow Yiannopoulos to speak, and rather acted like children in the candy aisle who were told by their moms that they can’t have the Hershey bar.

Seemingly, these protesters will advocate and preach diversity from the mountaintops, but only if that diversity is aligned with their views. That in itself is the highest degree of hypocrisy. In fact, a protester was quoted in Avalon Zoppo’s article saying, “(Rutgers groups) should not be inviting anyone like (Yiannopoulos) because what we stand for is inclusion and diversity. If a speaker makes someone feel unsafe or uncomfortable, then they (sic) should not come to campus.”

College is not about feeling “safe” or “comfortable.” College is about challenging institutional thought and dealing with opinions that we may find repugnant. In fact, freedom of speech is at its freest when it makes us a little uncomfortable. Would the protesters suggest that we all quit speaking should our opinions make someone feel uncomfortable?

College has traditionally been the quintessential “marketplace of ideas,” an institution that allows all ideas to be heard, and allows college society (the market) to invariably determine the best one.

Ironically, the protesters who were present last Tuesday at Scott Hall proved that “diversity” is not one of their core values. Instead, their behavior suggested that their core values should be “banning words that make us feel sad.”

If these protesters truly believed that Yiannopoulos should be censored and banned from Rutgers because his words hurt their feelings, then their parents should be ashamed for raising children who lack such self-control, that a gay man speaking his opinion causes them to act like savages.

These protesters did not allow Yiannopoulos the basic courtesy of speaking, and they were uninterested in engaging in debate. In fact, during the question and answer portion of the speech, when debate was encouraged, they did not participate. Perhaps it would have been too civilized, and the only argument they could concoct was yelling, “Black Lives Matter” over and over until someone apologized to them for not acknowledging their struggle.

Seemingly, these “serial protesters” here at Rutgers do not understand the diversity inherent in the First Amendment. Free speech is not only free when or if it protects you — free speech is free speech undiluted.

So I ask these “serial protesters,” if Milo Yiannopoulos is a racist, why does he continue to own so much of your brain? Only uneducated humans value the opinions of a racist. However, by demonstrating on Tuesday, and acting like petulant children espousing disdain for those who disagree with your “values,” you’ve shown that diversity is only skin deep and intelligence is not a requirement to protest.

Dylan Stone is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies.


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Dylan Stone

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