The First Amendment gives rights to all voices, not just the agreeable ones

Lisa Ross

My co-workers wondered if I, as a member of the swim team, might be offended that John Stevenson said that he “doesn’t read about” us in his letter to the editor published in the Herald on March 16.

You might be surprised to learn that I don’t mind at all. Let’s face it, a lot of people do not care about swimming. For me to sit here and lash out at each and every one of them is a waste of both my time and energy.

However, I think Stevenson makes a valid argument to support Lindsay Sainlar’s column. I feel safe that most people on the Hill have heard of the First Amendment. The First Amendment allows people to voice their opinions.

It also allows Sainlar to write whatever her heart desires in her column. The beauty of the situation is that no one is forcing you to read her work. If you dislike the content just stop reading. It’s as simple as that. The problem arises when people make the choice to read Sainlar’s column and then condemn her because her views differ from their own.

Yes, the First Amendment is undoubtedly a double-edged sword. We love the freedom to express our views, but heaven help those who dare to voice an opinion that is not in accordance with our own beliefs. We are quick to praise the First Amendment and then become twice as quick to tear down everything it stands for. Literally persecuting a writer because of her subject matter is a far cry from presenting a contradictory argument in a logical, well-thought manner.

A quality education goes far beyond labels like “English” or “science.” There are life lessons to be learned in college, which includes learning to be tolerant of others. As college students, we should know the difference between a truly derogatory statement and a harmless belief that just contradicts our own.

There is nothing wrong with voicing opposing views on issues. In fact, I encourage people to do so quite often. However, I feel it’s wrong to attempt to quiet the voices of those who oppose us. It’s even worse when people resort to mudslinging rather than addressing the issues at hand.

People with a college education are considered to be the elite quarter of our nation. If we can not accept the fact that everyone will not agree with us, what hope is there for the rest of the country? Faculty members and fellow students, I leave you with what I try to live by: pick the battles that are worth fighting, but also know when to live and let live.

Lisa Ross is a sophomore print journalism major from Merrillville, Ind.

This commentary does not reflect the views of the Herald, Western or its administration.