Your views

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

In response to “‘You deserve rape’ sign causes controversy on UA campus” (by Brittny Mejia, April 24):

Dear Editor,

Protected free speech is one of the best things that a university can offer its community. Therefore the members of the Women’s Interests Collaborative would like to contribute their voice in response to recent campus activity.

Sexual harassment and sexual violence of any kind are unacceptable behaviors. Signs, language, and other incidents that dismiss the trauma and violence of rape are also unacceptable and a form of violence in and of themselves. For those who have been injured by the trauma of such violence, our doors are open. Please know that we are among those who work with students, run departments, and lead organizations to oppose such words and actions, and we assure you that we far outnumber those who don’t on our campus.

UA is a community of love, inclusion, and support. One outlier is NOT representative of the feelings or sentiments of our community. We also encourage you to make your own voices heard — your free speech is also protected at our university. We support your participation in student-response groups such as Love Louder: uanews.org/blog/why-we-must-love-louder.

Sincerely,
Women’s Interests Collaborative Members:
Association of Women Faculty
Commission on the Status of Women
Department of Gender and Women’s Studies
Oasis Program Against Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence
Southwest Institute for Research on Women
UA ADVANCE
Women’s Resource Center
Women’s Studies Advisory Council

ONLINE COMMENTS

In response to “Editorial: To fight hate speech, journalists must report hate speech” (by Daily Wildcat editorial board, April 25):

I understand you’re explaining the Wildcat’s actions. And I support that: “You cannot take someone’s First Amendment freedoms away. But you can fight hate speech with more speech.”

However, the editorial I was really looking for from the Wildcat is the one focused on a few sentences that appear at the end of this one: “Rape is a violent crime. A culture that tolerates rape is a problem, nationally and on campus. It demands solutions.”

— Wildcat Fan

I take issue with the idea that Dean Saxton’s hate speech is constitutionally protected.

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Bradenburg v. Ohio: “The constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a state to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force, or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

Since Dean’s message was intentionally trying to rile people up and did provoke multiple assaults, it is no longer protected speech. This is easily a case of Disturbing the Peace.

— Ben

Saxton is advocating for rape, openly. I don’t see how it falls under protected speech — and, even so, not allowing it to happen on campus is not taking away his right to speak.

— Anpan (in response to Ben)

The messages sent by this Saxton student are consistent with sexual harassment, hate speech, and creating a hostile working environment. Make no mistake: College is a working environment. As for religious speech, I don’t remember anything in the Gospels where Jesus said rape was OK — in any circumstance. Nor does true Christianity consist of hate speech. Using religion as a cloak to spread hate is a pernicious, despicable pretense. People doing it should be called out and held to account.

— notarestingplace

An educational institution should in no way condone these sorts of actions. His blatherings serve no positive purpose on a University campus.

As a UA alumni, I am aware that each successive class on campus is exposed to a new generation of lunatic fringe preachers. This guy, however, has crossed the line. Threats are being made against half of the campus population.

If a performer on campus (which is basically what he is. He serves as a form of perverse entertainment for students to scoff at between classes and on lunch break. No one ever pays an ounce of credibility to this guys ramblings) says that a woman deserves rape, while speaking on a forum provided by the university, how can the school condone such actions?

It is disgusting that the University allows such radical fundamentalism to be put on display by one of its students. It is hate speech. pure and simple. It is hate, directed at women, validating violence and promoting a culture of sickness. It is reprehensible.

The sensationalistic coverage of this maniacs rantings only does well to call attention to his sick thoughts and to this publication. It does no well to the campus community at large. In fact, it only calls more attention to Arizona being a hot bed of radical fundamentalism and home to bat-shit crazies. Job not well done, Daily Wildcat.

—Charlie Touseull

I have been a journalist for over 35 years, the last four as bureau chief for a national digital periodical. Confronting the choice of what to publish boils down to one simple idea. A free society must be armed with information regarding all aspects of itself, no matter how distasteful, obnoxious, or hurtful those may be, in order to continue to function as a free society.

As a journalist, this means that full exercise of constitutionally protected rights must be allowed, regardless of effect or affect based on the premise that information empowers a free society. My job, my colleague’s job and our collective responsibility as reporters means that it is incumbent upon us to report the facts of a story, regardless of how offense giving those facts indeed may be.

The young preacher must be allowed to stage his protests and conversely, the Wildcat has the responsibility of reporting on those protest as they are indeed germane to the very fabric and discourse of student life at the University of Arizona.

I am, as are my colleagues charged with providing the essence of the story without colour, editorialising or political slant. Who, What, Where, Why, When and How. This is my [our] responsibility. How the readership may choose to interpret these facts is left entirely to them individually or collectively.

I have covered similar religious protests over the years of my career. I was at the funeral for murdered University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard over a decade ago and observed for myself the antics and protest of Westboro Baptist Church. Distasteful doesn’t quite describe my reaction and in the intervening years, I have covered Westboro protests at the funerals of U.S. service members killed in combat zones. Again, it is protected free speech.

How you, the readers choose to define the meaning of such protests and how you choose to react is again, based on a fair and truthful presentation of those facts.

This is the point to being a good journalist. I commend the staff and editors of the Wildcat for performance of that responsibility.

— Brody Levesque, LGBTQ Nation magazine

College newspaper editorial boardrooms are not an easy place to be; decisions are never simple or straightforward. I’d like to commend the editors for making the right, really, the only, decision. Arming the campus with the knowledge that this man is a rape culture contributor helps them, and the rest of the US, fight a more effective battle against his antiquated view of this horrendous crime that so many others share.

— PureMichigan29

In response to “‘You deserve rape’ sign causes controversy on UA campus” (by Brittny Mejia, April 24):

I agree with freedom of speech, but I believe that verbally attacking passing strangers in a public place is probably not covered, and may actually be illegal.

As the mother of a grad student at the UA, I’m disappointed that my daughter may be subjected to the stress of harassment.

In lieu of legal action, may I make a suggestion to Arizona students. Consider following the lead of those who are dealing with the despicable demonstrations of the Westboro Church crowd at military funerals. When the few crazies come out to bother women students, have a hundred normal men and women come out to stand between them and passersby, and just ignore them otherwise. They are just looking for attention, which they are getting, in spades.

I would say just ignore them, but it’s hard for a woman to walk down the street while someone is shouting at her that she is a slut and deserves to be raped. By all means, if you wish, have your own signs supporting women on campus.

— Jean

The young women at the campus should not tolerate this behavior. This is sexual harassment, and you are being verbally assaulted.

The UA has a nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policy, which states that the UA is committed to creating and maintaining an environment free of discrimination/harassment!

You all need to file a complaint at the Dean of Students Office and at the Office of Institutional Equity, then hire a lawyer to start a class action suit to protect your rights.

Mr. Saxton should be moved off campus and do his preaching on Sixth and Campbell. This is wrong and you have the power to stop him. You have rights too!

— Michelle

No one deserves to be raped, but everyone has the right to freely express their beliefs in this country.

I for one am glad he did us all the favor to show us exactly how he feels so that we may decide whether or not to interact with him. I do not see why this is news. He has an opinion, is sharing it in a legal way — just as we all do, every day.

The more attention we pay to opinions we may not agree with, the more fuel we add to the fire.

— Jessica Bilbrey


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