The Aggravating "Brother" Micah
He's back. Last November, I blogged about "Brother" Micah, a "preacher" from the Miami Open Air Mission, which looks like a pretty pathetic mission based on its website--the blog hasn't been updated since last August. But "Brother" Micah is still going strong.
But it hit me today while passing him that this is a perfect example of what Richard Dawkins means when he says religious speech is privileged like no other, no matter how offensive it may be. FAU certainly seems to have no problem with "Brother" Micah stationing himself in a major walkway and shouting to all who pass that they are sinners worthy of hell--the homophobic stuff he yells is particularly precious. But I imagine they'd balk if the Klan popped up and decided that they wanted to hold a rally in front of the administration building and shout God's judgment on the race traitors and Jews and Catholics and blacks. At the very least, there'd be a police presence and the spectacle would only last for a very defined and limited period. But "Brother" Micah, for whatever reason, has carte blanche to make an ass of himself daily.
It bothers me, because I'm a very staunch advocate of freedom of speech, especially the freedom to make an ass of one's self, but I can't deny it--I want to find ways to interfere with what he's doing. Not shut him up--just exercise my rights of protest in such a way that it makes his work untenable. I'm at a distinct disadvantage--I have to teach and hold office hours, and I'm not willing to get into a shouting match with him. But I'm thinking that I'd like to impose myself between him and his audience--silently--and mirror his every step. Or maybe find a group of people who know a bunch of bawdy drinking songs and sing them from the audience. See if some members of the brass section of the marching band want to stage an impromptu practice right through his speechifying area.
This much is certain. I've skirted around his charade before, largely because there's rarely a need for me to go through that area directly. No more. I'm walking through, and I'm going to pass as close to him as I can while acting as though he doesn't exist, even if it means I'm going out of my way to do it. And I strongly encourage anyone else who's around there to do the same--don't give him space. Don't give him a stage. He told one person today that he had a right to be on this campus. He has a right--we have a duty, a responsibility to be here. We work here and learn here. We have more right to that plot of land than he does. We should take it back.