Staff Column: Demonstrators yell much, say little

Cody Boyer

“People talk loud when they wanna act smart, right? So if we play loud, people might think we’re good! Everybody ready?”

In a popular 2001 episode of “Spongebob Squarepants,” the character of Squidward Tentacles tries to teach a large group of underwater creatures how to join together to form a marching band. When the group fails to successfully come together, Squidward proposes a theory: if you want to sound credible enough as a group, just do whatever it is that you are doing loudly.

Cody Boyer
Cody Boyer

Sound familiar, NMU?

When it comes to demonstrators on campus, it is safe to say that we have experienced a surplus during past weeks. While some demonstrators find success in simply handing out miniature Bibles with a smile and nothing more, others have started to dig into more questionable methods of getting their ideals across to students.

In my opinion, ideas and beliefs should not have to be delivered from the top of a stool using raised voices, insults and ridicule to influence those who make up their target audience. This method was used on Wednesday, Oct. 3 by six evangelical pastors at NMU who were preaching Christian morals.

Over the past few weeks, I have seen more demonstrations pop up across campus than any other semester that I’ve been at NMU. An individual or a small group will plant themselves on the main walkways that students must take in order to get to their classes.

Other times, groups that work in relative silence to get their message across still make a large impact on campus, as with the demonstrators on campus on Wednesday, Sept. 4.

A group of anti-abortionist demonstrators arrived on campus brandishing large, detailed posters of aborted fetuses while handing out pamphlets that compared abortions to the Holocaust. While the campus provides an open forum for groups such as this, many people, including children who happened upon viewing the images, were affected adversely.

There are many different ways people can demonstrate effectively, without even having to use their voices.

On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks demonstrated her civil rights when she refused to give up her seat in the “white section” of a bus to a white man when the rest of the bus was full. Only speaking a few sentences, Parks demonstrated a quiet method of displaying her rights, but made an equally loud impression on segregation laws at the time as well as on the civil rights movement.

On the other hand, in the events leading up to World War II, Adolf Hitler led an entire nation and race of people into violence and fear with his own beliefs simply by shouting and being charismatic with his ideals. We all know what his endeavors brought upon millions of people and how it ended for him.

The best way to deliver a potentially controversial idea to people who might come from varying beliefs should not entail driving them away or forcing stuff down their throats. Presenting ideas in a hostile manner does not accommodate an open forum for discussion. Additionally, preaching about love and peace using methods of aggression and hate is a conflicting message for the public. A good presentation doesn’t contradict itself.

A good demonstrator doesn’t force the floor away from their audience. While they might be the only person speaking, they must take into perspective the thoughts and feelings of others. A person will not be convinced to listen to another person if the speaker is disrespecting their audience to grab attention.

College campuses generally allow organizations to demonstrate in an effort to create open forums for discussion between the demonstrators and students. One-sided rants from extremist evangelicals belong elsewhere. A group of people vocally practicing their beliefs should not demonstrate domination of thought by talking over the questions of their primarily student audience.

So after listening to Squidward’s theory, the Bikini Bottom marching band raises their instruments and produces an explosion of noise, dramatically blowing out the windows of the rec center they are practicing in and breaking Squidward’s conductor’s baton.

Squidward’s theory about projecting one’s supposed credibility in a loud manner ultimately ended in destruction, and above all, a show of the band’s true talent, which is to say, none at all.

“OK, new theory,” Tentacles says. “Maybe we should play so quietly, no one can hear us.”

Squidward may have a valid point, even if he meant it differently in the cartoon. If a person is going to take time out of their day to insult and upset people to get them to listen, then perhaps they either need to consider a different approach or stop talking entirely.