As many of us have heard and/or seen, JMU’s campus was recently disrupted by a man named Preacher Ross, who stood in front of Carrier preaching his interpretation of Christianity. He condemned the actions that all college students engage in targeting the music we listen to, the people we idolize, and what we do in our free time. He claimed all those actions we engaged in were sinful, therefore many bad things deserved to happen to us, and of course, we were all going to hell. In my mind, his preaching was not in the name of any God, it was hate speech.
For those of you who heard his hate speech, or who watched videos of it, you heard that he pretty much targeted the actions of every individual on campus. Yes, he denounced homosexuality as a sin, and claimed “51% of the women on campus were whores” (yup, I was there when he said that). He also shouted hate at everyone else. For the purpose of this analysis, I would like to highlight his hate speech against women and the LGBTQ community.
“I don’t believe homos and lesbians are happy. Why do you think the queer Robin Williams killed himself?”
– Preacher Ross
When I asked friends what they thought about Preacher Ross’s “preaching”, many people said that if we had just ignored him, he would have gone away. Some people said we shouldn’t have let his hate speech get to us, because he’s crazy and clearly trying to get a rise out of us. I agree that we should have ignored him and not given him the attention he wanted, but I do not think what he was saying should quickly be pushed out of our minds.
What I would like to explore is the fact that Preacher Ross is not the only one with these kinds of beliefs against women and the LGBTQ community. There are many other individuals, organizations, and even politicians that hold beliefs similar to Preacher Ross’s, that have a direct impact on how all of us live our lives in America. For example, there are politicians that believe that you can choose to be gay or lesbian, which is why marriage equality and advancements in LGTBQ rights are still difficult to achieve. There are also politicians who believe in controlling women’s bodies due to religious views, thus making the fight for reproductive rights a long-standing battle.
“I’m not against women being educated. That’s why I got my wife a cookbook.”
– Preacher Ross
I think it is important to realize that everyone’s beliefs lie on a spectrum, and clearly Preacher Ross’s lie on the extremist side. It’s next to impossible to change people’s minds who are steadfast in their beliefs, but I think we have a better chance at changing people who are on the fence about their ideas. We can educate people that make insulting jokes about women and the LGBTQ community, we can say something when our friends make sexist and/or homophobic remarks, and through dialogue, we can engage our friends, family, and community to be more understanding of our differences and similarities.
The goal should be to not discriminate against any sex, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, or anything that makes us different from one another. We should be willing to speak up against those that do discriminate, in an effort to educate others on respect and understanding. With greater understanding, I think we can better serve the needs of this country, and address the needs of all individuals, regardless of sex, sexuality, or ethnicity. With greater understanding, we can elect more qualified individuals that will stand to serve the needs of their populace, not the needs of their religious or political viewpoints.