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Keep the volume down

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aaronwolking.jpgThe 2008 political season is at its full peak. What voters, pundits and political analysts have all been waiting for is now finally upon us, the height of the presidential race. It is understandable why people get excited.

The differences that define each of the candidates for president evoke passionate responses from the voting public. However, recent events on campus compel me to write about respect, dignity and the ability to rationally and reasonably agree to disagree.

In the past 10 days I have been witness to a recurring event that has taken place on campus, on the main walkway in front of the university library. A certain student has taken it upon himself to subject the rest of the university population to his own personal, radical political and social opinions by shouting out clichéd one-liners about what he dislikes about our government and country.

Now, let me establish my opinion. I am the biggest proponent of free speech in the world. I absolutely believe that people have the right to believe whatever makes them happy.

I also believe that everyone has the right to express their opinions freely. However, when that freedom of expression stops being a respectful, rational dialogue and turns into an irrational, unreasonable tirade of personal opinion, I feel that we have missed the point.

Understand, I am not writing this because I agree or disagree with the student who was demonstrating. In this case, my own political beliefs are not the issue. What I object to is the method of communication the student was using to get his point across.

It has always been the case that if you treat people civilly, you get a better response. If you are truly trying to communicate your ideas on how to make this country a better place, then isn’t being obnoxious in your delivery kind of defeating the purpose?

If you are really trying to sway people to look at life the same way you do, doesn’t shouting about God, George W. Bush, war, murder, injustice and marijuana at the top of your lungs seem kind of counter-productive?

Is it just me or does that not make much sense?

I know if I am going to try to persuade someone to agree with me on any issue, the one way I can guarantee that I will be ignored by the majority of my audience is by yelling at them.

It sure seemed like this was the case with the student on campus. It appeared that most of the students in the vicinity were either ignoring the tirade or laughing at the spectacle he was making of himself.

Here’s the deal. We all should know what we believe in: I do. I also commend the student in question for being strong in his opinions and not being afraid of ridicule. Both are admirable traits. However, I simply can not agree with his chosen method of communication. It was obnoxious and annoying.

In the future, I really hope that we, as an educational institution, can maintain a rational, respectful dialogue between people of opposing views. This is healthy for the continued expansion of all our viewpoints.

The key is respect.

We should all allow the people around us to believe what they want. Making peers listen to one-way, subjective political raving is not and never will be the way to effect change.

It should be discouraged. I discourage it, very strongly discourage it. Don’t make me yell at you.