Melanie asked me if I thought the grass would go up in flames. I chuckled to myself because as ominous clouds began to cover what was originally a beautiful day, Moses was preaching on that grassy knoll and I could just see the four horsemen come galloping up as the entire campus began to burn with the smoldering ash of sin.
Alas, I was disappointed yet again.
Moses made his biannual visit to the campus last Thursday, and he attracted quite an impressive crowd. He’s become an occasional fixture on campus – like the Segways and rabid squirrels. And he has an apparent fan base that loves to hear him belt out a few tunes of solidarity and resistance.
A fellow traveler and I sat down close to him, drinking tall iced-mochas and smoking cigarettes. I had skipped class to catch free speech in action and stayed because most everything on TV was a rerun. This was educational and entertaining, something neither of the previous activities could provide.
If you were present for the sermon, you know it was an eclectic crowd that was more diverse and attentive than most of the concerts put on at the university. I heard people on their cell phones telling friends to come down. It was after hearing a few of these phone calls and seeing the boys playing Frisbee around Moses that I became upset and bored with the whole parade.
The only man who has chosen to speak out in public on this campus, who has attempted to grab the attention of a group that could arguably use some morals and decency, was paraded around like a freak and taunted like a three-legged dog.
The output from the audience came mostly in the form of two gentlemen (of course). No doubt they’ve never heard of the old proverb, “It’s better to not say anything and have people assume you’re dumb, than to speak and prove them right.” Ignorance was being drunkenly thrown from both sides.
It had occurred to me, and apparently a few others in attendance, that if you were truly not offended and not a complete ignoramus, the event was nothing more than free entertainment. Who really gets offended over such ridiculous claims? When Moses told the men in the audience to take their pink shirts and offer them as a sacrifice…well, I really couldn’t have thought up anything more humorous in my entire life.
At one point, Moses said, “I will always listen to white-headed men,” which was taken as a racial comment by a black man in the audience.
I could see the lynch mob already beginning to throw the rope over Moses, and I quickly tried to calm the fellow down. Moses though, was no help, for he quickly turned on homosexuals, and I then became more fearful of the vicious Velvet Mafia sodomizing him with the cigarette stands that littered the courtyard.
I prayed for a mob, but I wanted it to be a group experience, something that would unite the entire student body, not something that could be construed as racial or sexual in nature.
The only thing that came close to poetic justice was when Pattie ran to the transportation office to get a permit to speak in the same area. I commend her for fighting fire with fire, but I’m ashamed the UA has gone to such great lengths to stop Moses from speaking by issuing out permits. I had suggested to my friend Raymond that we get naked, oil-up and make out in front of Moses but someone in the audience quickly reminded us that was exactly what Moses wanted. And that fellow was right.
If we simply allow Moses – and anyone else to go on campus for the matter – to speak without any interference, he’ll become as mundane and annoying as the men who were trying to petition for Green Party votes not two days before.
Eventually, the crowd did get tired and by the time Moses left at six, he had only a tiny group around him. They all seemed to be talking in reasonable and civil tones. The atmosphere of everyone involved was completely reversed from earlier.
This is what happens when you allow Moses to preach – actual discussion.
This spring break I’m going to London to visit someone dear to me. My first stop, however, won’t be to Big Ben or even to visit her. It’ll be to Hyde Park, to the section called Speakers’ Corner. The Free Speech Freaks meet there and I intend to offer them a pint and a humble bow.
[Original piece available here.]