UW’s civil LGBTQ protest

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When Charles E. Rice, an professor emeritus at Notre Dame Law School, came to the University of Waterloo Modern Languages Theatre on March 20 to give the annual Pascal Lecture on Christianity he was met with protest from the student community. The silent, civil protest for LGBTQ rights was a response to Rice’s opinions concerning homosexuality, same-sex marriages, abortion and birth control.

Protesters believe that the speaker’s views do not embody the image of diversity that they wish to portray on campus. While Rice says he took no issue with the demonstration, the topics protesters were trying to bring attention to were not discussed in his talk. The protest was successful in this regard because it provided a voice that was in opposition without being too challenging or intimidating.

Protesters were held back by a metal barrier and monitored by police but the students remained civil and respectful. A follow-lecture has been organized for March 22, entitled “An Evening of Christian Tolerance and Inclusivity,” which reflects a sense of real dialogue commencing between the students and these Christian beliefs. Compare this to the protests opposing journalist Christie Blatchford’s lecture plans at UW last year when students refused to leave the stage, making her unable to speak.

The crowd at the event did not respond favorably to the protesters being obnoxious and accusatory with their opinions. People are less open to listening when the voice is forceful and instead become defensive.

The Pascal Lecture protest was a step in the right direction because rather than having the objective of preventing the guest from speaking at all, as was the case with the Blatchford protest, the demonstration was peaceful, silent and respectful of Rice’s own right to a voice. Regardless of the emotional importance of a protest, the general public that the movement tries to address for social change and attention will become alienated if the protestors are too extreme.

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