By Madalyn Watson | Staff Writer
Controversy has struck campus this past week as flyers are for an upcoming speech given by Matt Walsh, a conservative blogger, titled, “The War On Reality: Why The Left Has Set Out To Redefine Life, Gender And Marriage,” hosted by the Baylor Young Americans for Freedom which is set to take place next week. Students have organized a petition against the speaker coming to campus, which has already gained almost 2,000 signatures.
As a gay, Christian Baylor graduate, Patrick Hill II was motivated to create a petition to stop Matt Walsh from delivering Anti-LGBTQ speech at Baylor.
As Hill II scrolled through his Twitter feed, he said he was shocked to find photos of flyers depicting the gay pride flag with a crossed hammer and sickle for a speech held at his Alma mater.
“It’s a speech that is blatantly attempting to equate progressives and LGBTQ people and people who define gender in some different way or marriage in some different way, as some sort of agenda rather than as people,” Hill II said.
Over 1,700 people have signed his petition asking Baylor to remove the speech from campus events on Change.org.
“I’m all for having different opinions and sitting down and being able to disagree and to be able to have that healthy conversation, but this is not that. This is a speaker being hosted by a group at Baylor that is setting out to demonize an entire people group,” Hill II said.
Fort Worth sophomore Zachary Miller, the chairman of the Baylor Young Americans for Freedom, said that the purpose of the speech is to advocate for traditional morality.
“[Walsh’s] ideas are very attractive to many young conservatives and his stances are those that often aren’t typically represented on college campuses,” Miller said. “He has a great voice, and we want to give him a platform to talk about his ideas.”
Miller said that the flyers that went viral on social media were created by a team in the organization, approved by himself and then approved by Baylor student activities.
“All the fliers were trying to say was that some of these issues are weaponized and [are] used as a means to silence other people,” Miller said.
Miller said that the posters were not intended to attack any specific person or group of people or say that they do not deserve to be at Baylor or treated right.
“Baylor Young Americans for Freedom is not against LGBT people, is not against anyone at all with any race, religion or sexual orientation,” Miller said. “Our business is to bring conservative speakers to campus to speak their minds and give a different perspective on important issues in our society.”
After seeing the petition created by Hill II, Matt Walsh promoted a counter petition on social media. The petition, created by Margie Mayer, defined it as a free speech issue.
“I think that if you approve someone’s speech, and then other people get upset about it, and then you say, ‘Actually, you can’t speak,’ that amounts to a heckler’s veto, and that would be an infringement upon the freedom of speech,” Miller said.
However, Hill said that he considers Matt Walsh’s upcoming speech, a form of hate speech.
“I don’t have any interest in silencing people. I just think this speech, specifically, is clearly destructive,” Hill II said.
Hill II said he believes that the speech portrays the gay community, who are routinely hurt and oppressed by the Christian community, as a tool used to push liberal and democratic agendas rather than as human beings.
“Baylor is as loving and as much of a Christian and positive community as it says it is and I believe it is,” Hill said. “I think that it should consider not allowing speech that is completely contradictory to the message of love that Jesus gave us.”
Hill II said that since the gay, Christian community is growing, Baylor should acknowledge them as part of their student population.
“The affirmation of gay people and the gay Christian community is growing in Christian world, and Baylor has yet to recognize that and legitimize gay Christians as part of the Christian community,” Hill said.
Despite concerns made about whether or not the event will occur in reaction to the online protests and petition, Miller was able to confirm that the speech will still happen.
“Regardless of what happens, the event will go forward,” Miller said.
Miller encourages people who are against Matt Walsh speaking on campus to attend and listen to the speech.
“To the people who are offended, or would like to shut Mr. Walsh’s speech down, I would encourage them to come to the event. Not to protest or to picket or to try to shut it down, but to listen to what he has to say. And if you disagree, ask a question. That’s what we’re doing this for,” Miller said.
The Baylor Young Americans for Freedom organization has a policy that anyone who disagrees with the speaker and has a question may get in line during the question and answer session, so that their questions are answered.