Scare tactics only go so far.
It seems as though every day – at least every nice day – there is some extremist blocking the way between the Lory Student Center and everywhere else on campus. These people just can't pass up a sunny opportunity to get their word out – no matter how loud they have to scream it for anyone to even turn their heads. And most of the messages let anyone passing by know that if they don't agree to immediately change their life, they are bound to a life of eternal misery for not choosing the "right" path.
But the religious fanatics aren't the only ones. On Valentine's Day a women's rights group showed film clips of women being raped – everyone knows rape is wrong, but blatantly broadcasting those videos didn't help anyone and it may have disturbed many.
And who could forget the anti-abortion groups that post their sky-high billboards all over the Lory Student Center Plaza with bloody pictures designed to convince people of decisions that are much more important than one shocking image.
These people come from all political spectrums and all personal backgrounds, yet the one thing they have in common isn't their message; it's their attitude. And oftentimes they prevent their message from even being heard because of the ignorant way in which they choose to deliver it.
I am not even attempting to argue against free speech here, but I just don't see what these groups can hope to accomplish. And as a moderate Christian conservative I am embarrassed by people who align themselves with the same belief system as I do while they continually make a mockery out of Christianity and abortion rights advocates in general.
Extremists in general have been given little credibility historically, typically having to fight their battles through their fists and yelling, only falling back on their brain as a last resort.
And if the goal really is to save or enlighten your audience, which I truly believe it is, then what type of people are they thinking they'll recruit from their method of advertisement?
I can't imagine what type of person would walk up to some fanatic on a rock and say: "Hey. You really touched me with your promises of eternal hell. Can I hold my own 'REPENT' sign please?"
Or what person previously uninterested in women's rights is going to say: "You know, before I never really realized that rape was an issue. But after watching your extremely disturbing rape tape I really want to be the next one pressing play on the VCR."
Knowledgeable people will not allow themselves to be forced into another's point of view, especially in a free and intelligent society – so instead of screaming and creating new enemies, make yourself approachable when people have questions and make options inviting, instead of threatening.
It's like what Herodotus wrote in "The History of Herodotus."
"Force has no place where there is need of skill."
Jesse McLain is a junior English student. Her column runs every other Thursday in the Collegian.