Letter: The Pit Preacher has a right to free speech


In response to the editorial titled “Free speech is good in theory, but not so easy in practice,” I agree that free speech is a right that applies to all people.

I also agree that while he may be a wacko, the Pit Preacher is entitled to his freedom of speech.

However, I disagree with your suggestion that a Muslim man reading from the same script would “certainly not face the same response from the public.”

In all my days of listening to the Pit Preacher, named Gary, I have not once heard a spectator concur with his radical and frankly inaccurate interpretations of the Bible. In fact, you regularly see students engaging in heated discussions with him about his derogatory rhetoric.

I believe that if a Muslim man spoke with the same rhetoric as the Pit Preacher, he would receive the same negative reaction from students and spectators that Gary receives now.

To say that someone at UNC would be censored just because he is Muslim is a far stretch with no evidence to back it up.

I believe that UNC’s campus as a whole is very accepting to the idea of free speech. Unless they were inciting acts of violence, I believe that this campus would not silence someone because of their race, religion or gender.

At the end of your editorial you give an example of how civil rights activists were silenced in the aftermath of World War II for being associated with communism.

While this may be a valid example, it also occurred fifty years ago and I believe as a society we have made great progress in expanding the rights to free speech since then.

It is unfair to make a claim about modern issues on a college campus and then use an instance that occurred over five decades ago as your evidence. Free speech is a constitutional right that an overwhelming majority of Americans, both conservative and liberal, agree should be protected.

After being at UNC for almost two semesters I have seen speakers and protesters spreading ideas that I agree with and ideas that I disagree with.

However, in all of these instances the rights to free speech of these individuals has been protected. I believe that colleges, especially UNC, do a great job of allowing freedom of speech from a variety of viewpoints; to make claims that we don’t without any evidence tarnishes all the progress and hard work it has taken to get to this point.

Jeff Yokley



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