Dog trainers explain that when your pet is acting out of control, the best way to get them to behave is to simply ignore them. At first he’ll run around the house barking and jumping all over you. He will cry and wince for hours just for a bite of your dinner. He wants your attention, and if you let them have it, he’ll misbehave however he wants in order to get it.
Eventually though, as you ignore his misbehavior, he’ll learn how to act according to your standards. Only then, dog trainers say, should you give your attention to the dog.
This week, as they do every year, two Evangelical preachers appeared on EIU’s campus. Making outrageous claims that, for example, engagement in drugs or pre-marital sex will send them to hell or that “a women’s mouth is usually open. Yap. Yap. Yap,” Brother Jed and Sister Cindy amass large gatherings of students.
Of course what they’re preaching is wrong. And of course it is offensive and derogatory; that is the point. But what we do not consider is whether we are falling for their theatrics. They want large groups of offended and amused students to surround them.
They come for us. And we keep them coming.
Just how you would ignore your dog if he misbehaves, we ought to do the same with Brother Jed and Sister Cindy. And though it might be fun to stand around mocking them or hearing their absurdities, we are the reason they are here. And that must change.
Many students become emotionally distraught at the words of the preachers. Consider a fellow student from last year who, on her way to Doudna, heard the faint shouts of Brother Jed. At first confused, she began to listen. She walked up and immediately became singled out, hearing accusations that she’s a “whore” and a “fake Christian.” She was going to hell and so was her girlfriend. Immediately she went home and cried, missing class in the process.
The homophobia, racism, and sexism being preached will inevitably hurt many students, even some who didn’t want to engage with them in the first place. So, why do they have everyone’s attention again?
If Brother Jed asked to speak at your local coffee shop, would you let him? No. No one would.
So why would you give him a platform anywhere else? By listening to them, you are implicitly supporting their views. You are giving them a reason to speak, and you are attracting more students who want to see what everyone is looking at. We need to deplatform their oppressive and discriminatory ideology.
And we aren’t making any progress by “debating” with them either. They won’t change their views, and I doubt anyone will have gotten a meaningful discussion out of them.
So weigh the consequences: should we waste our time, risk emotionally traumatizing students, support an oppressive ideology, all with no gains in the end just so we can have a quick laugh? Do we have a duty to ignore?
Ian Palacios is a junior English and philosophy major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or impalacios.edu.