Free Speech: At What Cost?

A+student+waves+a+Pride+flag+last+semester+as+protestors+preach+anti-LGBTQ+sentiments.+%28Photo%2FSarah+Kofman%29

A student waves a Pride flag last semester as protestors preach anti-LGBTQ sentiments. (Photo/Sarah Kofman)

When Southern Miss students hear screaming near the fountain and see the giant posters relating to abortion and the sins surrounding it, we know what it means. 

The Christian protestors have returned, bearing the same signs that read, “REPENT OR BE CAST INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE.” 

The protestors are passing out pamphlets, detailing how blasphemous we are as humans. 

These pamphlets also like to list sins we have committed against God and that for those sins, we shall burn in the fiery pits.

 These sins are included, but not limited to, homosexuality, fornication, adultery, Catholicism and a plethora of others. 

They question whether or not we are good people, if we have accepted Christ or even take louder approaches. 

If you are in the surrounding area, you will most likely hear one of the people from this organization screaming that we don’t love God. Not his words, but God’s, apparently. 

These protestors have returned to USM’s campus over five times, most frequently in the past few weeks. 

To say that it doesn’t invoke a response from our community would be a lie.

 While some students simply walk past them, ignoring their pamphlets and words, some students decide to provide a counterattack.

 Some of them make signs of their own. Some of them blast Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ from their Bluetooth speakers. 

Some of them wear pride flags, waving them proudly. Sometimes a crowd will gather around these protestors, taunting them and mocking their insulting and offensive display. 

Nonetheless, there is always a response from the community in some fashion. 

It’s become a hindrance. More than a hindrance, really. 

When they gather at the fountain, they spew hate in the name of God.

 Is it truly spreading what the Bible says, or is it an attempt to indoctrinate students? 

USM is a vibrantly diverse campus. With people from all over the world, different sexualities or simply different backgrounds entirely, not one person is alike at this university. 

With their harmful words and banners, do they realize how badly they hurt entire communities? Do they care? 

The biggest problem with this organization is that they preach hate in the name of Jesus Christ. 

As a Christian, the God that I have spent my life worshiping and believing in is not a God of hate. 

He is a God of acceptance and love. One of the biggest problems with these spewers-of-hate, in my eyes, is the spreading of misinformation. 

It is hate in the name of someone who is not hateful. It’s a poor representation of Christianity, something we see too often. 

What is the difference between hate speech and free speech? Where is the line? 

We wish to provide acceptance into our Southern Miss community. Our goal is love, peace, equality and equity. Not one person in our community should feel attacked or unsafe simply because they want to live as who they are.

If these protestors, as Christians, claim to spread the word of God in the name of free speech, then they have completely done it wrong. 

Their hate and promotion of ideals that are simply dangerous have only promoted an unsafe and unwell feeling amongst our community. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to keep them from coming back. As long as USM is a public university, then they can gather at the fountain as long as it remains a peaceful and nonviolent gathering. 

We could continue to argue and debate with these protestors, but there’s a chance that will only make them want to keep coming back. 

And let’s be honest, they’re going to keep coming back. We could simply ignore them, but at the same time, it could also make the community believe that we stand for hate. The good ones in our community do not stand for that. 

For now, I must say that these protests are dangerous. I’ve been called a scandalous woman, and told that I would burn in the fiery lake for my views. 

I’ve taught myself to just let it roll off my back.

. In the end, they have no say over how we lived our lives or our decisions. They can spew their hate, but at the end of the day, our destinies are up to us. 

I encourage you to love one another. Do the exact opposite of those that gather at the fountain with their posters and pamphlets. 

Remind them of Romans 2:11. “For God does not show favoritism.” Love each other equally. Do not let their words ring true. Fight their hate, and defend the love.