A man at Clemson University was forced to stop praying on campus because he was not in a designated “free speech area” and was therefore “soliciting.”
Immediately afterwards, Young America’s Foundation member Kyra Palange, who was also praying with the man, approached the administrator and began grilling him on camera. The administrator identified himself as Shawn Jones, Clemson’s assistant director for client services. Jones explained that the university has designated “free speech areas” on campus for prayer, and that since the man was not a student or faculty member, he would need to file paperwork with the university before resuming his prayer session.
Everybody’s freaking out about this right now, and rightfully so. Colleges unfairly prohibit free speech on a regular basis. But allow me to play Devil’s Advocate in this situation.
Many, many campuses across America are plagued by at least one religious whack-job non-student standing on a street corner, shouting fire and brimstone at students as they walk to class. It sounds to me like the law Jones was enforcing is Clemson’s way of keeping these people off university grounds. The man Jones removed was not a student. If he was, I guarantee Jones wouldn’t have done shit. I’m not saying this particular man is one of those aggravating “ALL YOU KIDS ARE GOING TO HELL!” mouth breathers. But I am saying Clemson probably has enough of them (I know neighboring USC did because I went there). It sucks if this man was one of the good ones and the mouth breathers ruined it for him.
Yes, public universities often overstep their bounds, and yes, sometimes what they do is pretty fucked up — like removing students for holding up pro-Trump signs — but I’m all for them removing the loud religious zealots. Maybe next time, Jones should wait to see if the people praying are chill, or if they’re being dicks and shouting, “STRUMPETS!” at girls in yoga pants. Because if they’re chill and praying quietly, removing them just makes the university look like the dick..
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