On Thursday, Oct. 7, two anti-gay activists appeared on the Geneseo campus for at least the third time in three years. For the most part, they were met with passive retaliation and protest.
How does passive objection to such attacks serve to meet the student body's goal of reaching tolerance and acceptance in the gay community? Perhaps it isn't beneficial to "fight fire with fire," but when does passive activism become too passive?
There has been a long-standing history of social protest among collegiate students (e.g. outraged Geneseo students traveling to Rochester in the 1960s to protest anti-civil rights speakers). Think also of historical protestors such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks. These great leaders engaged in acts of "civil disobedience." By their example, let us remember the distinction between "peaceful" protest and "passive" protest.
Speaking out - satirically or otherwise - gets attention from the public. As active, invested, young students, it should remain a collective goal to not allow ignorance to gain attention over narrow-minded and dogmatic opinions. A shining example of this, during such an era of political instability and upheaval, is the role that personalities such as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert play in countering the extremely vocal opinions of "news" leaders like Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly.
Where has not voicing our disapproval gotten us? For whatever action has been taken, these individuals have returned to our campus year after year. By not speaking out, their inflammatory hate speech will continue to echo across our campus. How realistic are informational handouts to passersby, for the cause of retaliating against hate speech? How truly effective is the act of holding up a sign or flag for hours to gain attention for our viewpoints against people who are actively speaking, even yelling, this hate speech?
In light of the recent suicides due to gay abuse and bullying, this is a very timely issue. Wearing purple to support the cause or updating your Facebook status are positive steps, but it's time to put the "active" back in "activism."
-Joseph Dellaria, '11-Thomas Zombek, Man of Action and Change '11