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Monday, November 28, 2005

controversy

"Character has a lot to do with sacrifice, laying our personal interests down for something bigger. The best example of this is Jesus. In the Garden of Gethsemane, just hours before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." He knew the right thing to do. He knew the cost would be agonizing torture and death. He did it anyway. That's character."

This speech by Noah Riner, Student Body President at Dartmouth College has sparked quite a controversy. Upon first hearing of the uproar caused by this speech, I was intreagued, and had to find out more. I'll post all relevant links, and allow you to discover this brave young man for yourself:

Full transcript of speech
Video of speech
Response by Dr Alber Mohler
The Rebelution

Comments:
"Controversial"? Maybe. Often, however, it seems as though the people who share Riner's views have kept the "cotroversy" afloat. In actuality, the views themselves were not considered controversial at Dartmouth; the forum he chose to present them was considered a lousy choice. He delivered his speech at the school's convocation. Below are a couple of perspectives by students who, unlike Dr. Mohler, were actually there.

Put the speech in context.

http://www.thedartmouth.com/article.php?aid=2005092302010

http://www.thedartmouth.com/article.php?aid=2005092202010&sheadline=&sauthor=brian%20martin&stext=

-Dartmouth student
 
Hi Dartmouth Student

Thanks for dropping by. Let me just say that I have read the articles you posted, and I can see where the authors are coming from.

However, let me clarify my view.

Firstly, I do not know Noah, nor do I know anyone who attends Dartmouth, so I cannot attest to knowing the culture or foundation of the school.

Secondly, I personally do not find what Noah said to be controversial. I think that it was extremely courageous of him to stand up and say exactly what he thought. Many times people curb their speech to fit into what is considered to be acceptable. I'm sure that Noah faced that option at one point or another while writing his speech. I have no doubt that he went into that assembly with at least some inkling of the furore that was to erupt after his speech.

I acknowledge your view point that maybe it wasn't the best forum in which to present his view, but, he was elected by your peers to become your Student Body President, and I'm sure he wasn't elected just because he's a pretty face.

Often when people stand up for what they believe in, they are attacked for the very thing. That is what I see happening here.

Dr Mohler mentioned in his article:
"Mr. Riner was not without his defenders. "Had Noah Riner opened his convocation speech with 'I'm gay,' this wouldn't be happening."
I think that is a valid point. If Noah had stood up for any other minority group, would this personal attack still have happened, or would he have been applauded for his courageous stand?
 
If Noah had been gay and referenced his sexuality during the convocation speech, then I have no doubt that few community members would have been irritated. If he had used his speech to tell everyone that their sexuality was wrong, that being homosexual was the way to be, then that would have been as poorly received as Riner's speech explaining to the audience that only through Christ would there be salvation.
Personalizing a speech makes it more enjoyable and interesting; selfishly taking an opportunity to welcome a community and turning it into a bully pulpit, whether the cause be religious, sexual, political, or anything else, is out of line.
 
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