Sep 172002
Authors: Christopher Conner

As a participant in the demonstration that skirted Wednesday’s crowd at the September 11th anniversary commemoration ceremony on campus, I am concerned with how my activity was framed by the headline of your opinion piece, “Peaceful protest shows America’s greatness” the next day.

I believe the article was largely sensitive, though the headline seems, at best, incongruent with what I had hoped my activity would convey. It seems the headline double-speaks in a way that celebrates the possession of an American freedom to assemble and speak while ignoring the importance of the messages such a freedom may express.

As a speech teacher, I understand the greatness of speaking out. There are many places in the world where my activity would not have been tolerated. However, more important than saying I celebrate my right to speak is engaging that right. If the matter of having a right to speak becomes more important than the responsibility to make use of the right, is that not the gravest example of taking free speech for granted?

If my demonstration (not “protest”) is seen only to be valuable as an example of free speech (showing “America’s greatness”) and not useful to convey the messages that are in my heart (the mourning on the signs that mark a less-than-great America) how well does the Collegian respect my right?

If it was “good to see people peacefully and respectfully demonstrating” why didn’t any Collegian writers identify themselves to us and get the story instead of opinionating one to suggest it is enough to celebrate free speech as something we have?

Christopher Conner

Speech Communication Graduate Student

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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