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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Nugent’s presentation inspires protests

The NMU College Democrats will be hosting an alternative presentation next week for students to learn about the negative effects of hate speech.

The presentation, “Mythbusting: Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, and Nasty Words are Always Hurtful,” will take place on Tuesday, April 13 in Jamrich 104 at 7 p.m. and will serve as an alternative to Ted Nugent’s “Kill It and Grill It” speech on Tuesday, April 13.

The counter presentation was organized to provide a positive alternative to Nugent, who has been criticized for his controversial remarks pertaining to feminists, organized religion and obesity, said Kaylee Place, a sophomore political science major and the president of the College Democrats. The organization had originally planned to rally outside the doors of Nugent’s speech, but later decided that it would be better to provide an alternative for students to attend and learn about hate speech, said Place.

“I don’t see a lot of positive things coming out of (Nugent’s) speech. If students come to our presentation, they will see what hate speech can lead to and how it affects people,” she said.

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The College Democrats have been putting up postings across the NMU campus to promote their event and inform students of some of the statements by Nugent, which Place said are objectionable.

“He’s had some really offensive comments. We thought it was appropriate to offer something so that both sides were represented. We’re all just exercising our right to free speech,” Place said.

A lot of people don’t realize when they have stretched their freedom of speech too far, said political science professor Ruth Watry, who has taken particular offense to Nugent’s statements against women.

“When we speak about people this way, we objectify them. We don’t want to interfere with Nugent’s rights. We just want to get students to rally positively,” Watry said.

Watry will be among the speakers at the alternative presentation. She will be informing students about the limitations of the First Amendment and the relationship between hate speech and hate crimes. She will speak alongside other faculty members and representatives from the Marquette Women’s Center who will inform attendees of the relationship between hate speech and domestic violence and rape.

Watry said that she questions the rationale of using the Student Activity Fee fund to bring in Nugent to speak to students. Nugent’s speech provides little more than shock value, she said.

“There are a lot of conservative speakers who could have contributed positively to the discussion. I would have liked to see (a speaker) who brings students together,” Watry said.

Nugent is respected by many of his fans for speaking his mind, said Fredric Gygi, the president of the NMU Sportsmen Gun Club, one of the organizations that is sponsoring Nugent’s      speech.

“Different people have opposing viewpoints. That’s the way America runs,” he said.

Gygi said that he did research on Nugent and liked what he had to say. Nugent, a strong advocate for second amendment rights, is making an appearance at an important time for NMU, said Gygi, particularly because of the controversy surrounding a proposed state bill, which could allow concealed weapons on college campuses.

“(Nugent) represents some of the same views that (the Sportsmen Gun Club) has. We want to get to know him, and know where he’s coming from,” Gygi said.

Gygi and the Sportsmen Gun Club worked closely with the Student Finance Committee, the Young America’s Foundation and the NMU College Republicans to bring Nugent to campus.

“Students should be allowed to hear what (Nugent) has to say. A lot of people in the Upper Peninsula relate to him,” said Matthew Fusilier, the president of the College Republicans.

Nugent began contributing positively to the discussion on important topics such as Second Amendment rights and freedom of speech at NMU before he was scheduled to appear, he said.

“Anything controversial adds to the discussion. It’s just more interesting to listen to,” Fusilier said.

Nugent was brought to campus using $34,800 from the Student Activity Fee, and was sought out more for his entertainment value than his controversial views and possibly hateful remarks, Fusilier said.

“We’ve got no problem with (the counter event). It’s just another event for students to go to and hear different viewpoints. (Nugent) may offend, but he can say what he wants,” Fusilier said.

Tickets for “Kill It and Grill It” will cost $5 for students and $15 for the general public. “Mythbusting: Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, and Nasty Words are Always Hurtful” will be offered free of charge.

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