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The Daily Tar Heel

Student Urges Others To Ignore Gary Birdsong, Campus 'Pit Preacher'

We've all seen him, smacking his Bible and flailing his hands heavenward. We've all heard his tired rhetoric, and as much as we may not want to admit it, we've all stopped from time to time to listen to what he has to say. But I think that Gary Birdsong has finally worn out his welcome in Chapel Hill. Last week, I asked him how long he had been coming to this campus to preach. His answer was 20 years. Twenty years, and no one has yet asked him to do what would be best for all of us: leave. He has a 20-year tradition of spewing venom to the students of the university, and he reached a low last week. Perhaps it was the unseasonably warn weather, or maybe Birdsong's suspenders that clashed horribly with his necktie, but as a crowd gathered around him in the Pit, Birdsong brought out the worst in people in a way I had never seen before. Normally civil human beings shouted -- viciously.

However, Birdsong's coup de grace came when a student accused him of preaching hatred. His response was as far from Christianity as right is from left: "What's wrong with preaching hate?" This statement (from a self-proclaimed "nonsinner") took everyone aback, even the atheists in the front row who might have otherwise enjoyed this spectacle.

Birdsong has time and again reaffirmed his position as Chapel Hill's village idiot. Now the time has come for the idiot to go. Can the administration force him to leave? No, they cannot. Birdsong does have freedom of speech here on the grounds of a public university. But that doesn't mean we have to listen. So I ask the students of UNC to join me in this crusade -- ignore Birdsong. Don't let him drag you down to his level -- a web of reactionary rhetoric and misinterpreted Bible verses. So let ol' Gary babble on to himself. After all, he can't preach to an audience that is not there.

Douglas Anderson



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