Oct 072010
Authors: Phoenix MourningStar

We’ve had an interesting variety of news this week, both on and off campus. On campus, students protested the large abortion display signs in the plaza, debating the graphic depictions and debating the right to life versus the right to choose.

Off campus, the Supreme Court started hearing a case that will decide if there is a conflict between a group’s right to free speech and a Kansas family’s right to mourn the death of their soldier in peace with respect.

These stories touch on arguably the most controversial social topics of our generation. The issues cross the boundaries of personal security, personal privacy and freedom of speech. The Constitution was written to address important issues such as these.

These issues are presented in the political realm as point of difference, as lines in the sand and barriers to divide us. We seem to forget the idea that we all have the freedom to hold these different positions. It seems particularly so during election season when everything has to be polarizing that we forget that we can peacefully hold different positions on these controversial issues.

One case in point is the Tea Party. We have a fairly good-sized group of Tea Party supporters here in Fort Collins––most of them were, and still are, painted as middle aged, middle-to-upper income, white suburbanites who want less government but are less than interested in losing the benefits that big government provides.

When I asked my Libertarian friend if the Tea Party and Libertarians were the same he relegated Tea Party people to being Libertarian sell-outs.

My point is this: I support the Tea Party, I support the Pro-Life folks, but I also support the Pro-Choice folks and the Democrans and Republicrats; not on the basis of their rhetoric or the conflicting pandering that can seem so blatant at times.

My support for them is really less so for their positions as for their right to stand up for what they believe. For their willingness to take their complaints, issues and beliefs into the street and the public commons. For all the negatives of our political system and the shortcomings of some of our leaders, our system still upholds our right to speak freely.

It’s occurred to me this week watching the students debate the relevance of graphic signage in the paper and on the plaza: Our freedom to express ourselves has rarely been trampled on in recent times. Our ability as a national community to be heard in one way or another unites us; even in times of dissent and fury.

In this spirit I encourage and support those students, faculty and staff who put their beliefs on the line and walked out on the plaza in support of their personal values. I especially respect and appreciate those small groups of heated yet quiet debates I witnessed between students who did not share the same ideals, yet stood next to each other listening and exchanging and thoughts and facts.

Those glimpses of intellectual rigor and critical thinking are what CSU is really about. They’re what academia and scholarship is built on. 

Whether you are an active and registered voter or just like to bemoan the state of human morality at the top of your lungs so the entirety of campus is annoyed by your message, you have the right to vote with your feet, your voice or your wallet.

More than anything, I encourage you to vote with your volunteer time to the organizations you believe in and the sections of your community that you feel need attention.

Our neighbors and our politicians see where volunteers have mobilized and gravitate to these places. Beyond voting and debating, action more than anything makes the world what it is and can improve our community and our campus.

Phoenix Mourning-Star is a graduate student in environmental health. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 2:53 pm

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