Saturday, December 10, 2016

Rick Santorum's Heckling Emporium

I know this title is dumb but I realized "Santorum" almost rhymes with "Emporium" so here we are. 

At my school, the university Republican organization invited Republican politician Rick Santorum to come and speak. First, a little bit about Rick: he was a senator for a little over a decade, he ran for president in 2012 but lost the party nomination to Mitt, he is anti-LGBT, anti-abortion, a climate change denier, and he proposed an amendment which promoted the teaching of intelligent design. Awesome.

That was sarcasm, I don't think any of those things are awesome. And neither do the vast majority of the students at the highly liberal institution where I go to school. And naturally, as a result, many students were not overly joyous to hear that this guy was coming to their shared home. I had friends who organized silent protests to him and his beliefs, which is totally fine and understandable. I respect that and probably would've been down to participate if I hadn't been in tech for a show (also keeping in mind that it's not every day you get to see a noteworthy American politician speak, regardless of his beliefs- I think it would've been generally interesting in one way or another).

Now, as Rickaroo was up on stage doing his thing, something happened. A smallish handful of students in the audience stood up and started chanting at him. He was speaking and they interrupted him. After they did this for an uncomfortable minute, Rickaroni responded, "Now I suspect these people who stood up walk around campus and talk about tolerance". That was all he needed to say for the audience to erupt in applause. His point was made and the audience agreed with it. As do I.

Again, I'd like to reiterate that I am a thoroughly liberal person who doesn't agree with the actions or beliefs of Rickie. That last part about wanting to teach intelligent design in schools especially makes me wanna bang my head against a wall. That part is real special.

Anyways, free speech is a big thing that came up in this election. That old bastard. So good but also... still pretty good. So the university republicans are all like "We have free speech! So does our mans Rick!" This is true. Both they and their mans Rick have the freedom of speech. So, in response, the university's assorted liberals go "This is true, but this doesn't imply we need to listen to your speech or show up to hear it." This is also pretty much true; no one has an obligation to listen to the thoughts, opinions, or beliefs of anyone else. 

But then there's the aspect of tolerance, as Rick the Climate Change denying dick pointed out. Tolerance implies that you respect others as well as their words and thoughts, even though you by no means have to like them. And the liberal (majority) students at my school definitely preach tolerance. Some do it like it's their jobs. A lot of emphasis is put on giving a voice to people of color, LGBT, and other oppressed communities who have been silenced. And that's totally great. Good for us. Go team. 

But then Rick was heckled. That wasn't so great. First of all, it's, y'know, rude. It makes us look bad. People aren't going to come and speak at our school if they're just going to be interrupted by especially angsty students who won't respect their right to be there. Also, put it into perspective; if Bernie came and spoke at the school and some conservatives stood up while he was talking and started shouting, the entire school would condemn that group. 

Secondly, the man was sharing his voice and a group decided to silence him. A group that, as Rick said, definitely preaches tolerance. Wait, but Rick is anti-LGBT! He's a jerk and doesn't support abortion. He's not tolerant and actively silences the voices of many, so why should we respect his voice?

And there lies the sick irony of tolerance. Sometimes you have to tolerate and accept those who aren't exactly tolerant and accepting. Otherwise, you just have another self-validated version of being intolerant. And then you're no better than Rick.


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