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Editorial: Freedom of speech protects professor and preacher

By Editorial Board
On May 1, 2014

Professor James Boster of the UConn anthropology department drew considerable attention to the school last week for a loud 'debate' with a campus preacher that ended up on Youtube. Boster is seen in the video yelling loudly at a man holding a sign reading "Evolution is a Lie" and calling him an ignorant liar and praising Darwin, in so many words.
While it's the opinion of this paper that Boster missed satire and ended up stooping to the level of the man he wished to criticize, neither he nor the preacher should be penalized for their actions. They were both exercising freedom of speech in a public place. Neither person was a particularly pleasant addition to Fairfield Way that day, but both had a right to be there.
The man who came to campus last week, Don Karns, has preached all over the country. The evangelical preachers who frequently come to UConn are some of the least welcomed people on campus for many students, but they're not breaking the law by talking loudly and often obnoxiously in a public place. While they can make students uncomfortable, we can't shut them out of a public space and we do have a right to challenge them if we feel they've gone too far. Preventing them from coming to campus would be an infringement of their rights.
Likewise, Boster was within his rights to yell loudly and obnoxiously on campus as well. While his behavior wasn't entirely becoming of a professor, he doesn't deserve to be fired for it. He was expressing his opinion and defending his field. Boster said he was summoned to the Dean's office and most likely disciplined for his actions, and that's the appropriate course of action.
Boster claims that Karns was attacking students' ethnicity and sexuality and said "It was my moral duty to become outraged." The thing is, Karns probably also feels that it is his moral duty to inform students about the lies of evolution. No matter what side you're on, you have the right to make your case. 

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