When the Dove World Outreach Center, a local church, chose its name, the story of Noah must have come to mind.
After the great flood, Noah released a dove, which returned carrying an olive branch, revealing that somewhere there was land. The dove has since symbolized peace.
But don’t let this church fool you — its message is not even close to one of peace. On the contrary, it was probably another part of the flood story that attracted this church to its namesake: the drowning death of the wicked, corrupt masses.
Yes, this church hate-group doesn’t stick to run-of-the-mill Internet hate speeches. You know, the tried and tested (yet somehow consistently vile) “Abortion is murder, homosexuality is sin” stuff. That’s certainly part of the church’s platform, but they take their mission to “preach and challenge” to an entirely different level.
The church’s Web site plainly states that followers must “take a stand against Islam,” which is actively “leading people to hell.” They encourage all Christians to take this message directly to the people (and the sinners).
Which is exactly what some church members did at a Gainesville high school football game in early October. Along with their children, these weekend crusaders wore matching shirts that read “Islam is of the devil.” School officials and police, understandably perturbed by this visible hate speech, demanded that the parents and students leave school property.
Unfortunately, this is a somewhat familiar story. But something is missing.
Enter the ACLU.
Not those whiners, you might be saying to yourself. The same thought crossed some minds here at the Alligator.
Now, we hate hate-speech, probably more than these phony “Christians” hate people with different beliefs.
But we were (somewhat reluctantly) pleased to hear that the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit on Monday on behalf of the church. The suit claims that the school intruded on these crusaders’ freedom of speech when it removed them from the football game. The suit also seeks to reverse the Alachua County School District’s decision to bring disciplinary action against students who wear similar shirts to school.
How can the Alligator defend this hate-mongering, especially when the church seeks to send its message out on the chests of children?
We can, and we must, because without absolute freedom of speech, we might not be able to call the Dove World Outreach Center a bunch of crazy assholes.
Were it not for the freedom of the press and other freedoms we enjoy as Americans, we might not have the opportunity to share views about this church or other contentious issues.
The First Amendment is designed to protect the thoughts and opinions of everyone, and by necessity, it must include those fringe elements of society that we all wish would just shut up.
While we doubt the church will be successful in its efforts to spread its message through the schools, as the Supreme Court has routinely ruled that students give up many rights when entering school doors, we defend their right to do so. Further, we applaud the ACLU for taking on the difficult job of representing them.
The Alligator supports civil dialog, controversial discourse, and downright belligerent argument (we especially like arguments), even when we painfully disagree with others’ viewpoints.
So don’t censor the hate-groups. Just hate them back — publicly.