shouting fire comment 2: Chase Harper

Chase Harper wore a t-shirt with the words “Be ashamed, our school has embraced what God condemned” written across it. He wore this t-shirt the day after the day of silence in order to protest it. The day of silence is a protest of the harassment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Chase Harper was sent to the office for wearing the shirt because it was considered offensive. Harper believed that the school was violating his right to free speech. Students have the right to free speech as long as it does not disrupt other students. The day of silence can be interpreted as promoting tolerance of homosexual or tolerance for committing sin. The interpretation depends on a person’s beliefs. Either way, the self-expression is protected by freedom of speech.  To keep the right of freedom of speech, Americans need to support other people’s rights of free speech, even if their views opposes their own. To paraphrase a poem by Martin Niemöller, First they came for the communists and I didn’t speak out and then they came for me. Americans need to fight for each other’s freedoms despite our differences.

Another controversy surrounding Chase Harper’s protest is the effects of homophobia on homosexual students. Recently, the media has been reporting on suicides of gay students. Homophobia in society has been a contributing factor in these suicides. But, some homosexuals face homophobia every day and do not commit suicide. The suicide rates of students, regardless of sexual orientation, have been the same for years. But, the amount of reports in the media on suicide has increased recently. The reports have only been focusing on homosexuals committing suicide after being bullied and ignoring other suicides. I believe that these suicides have been receiving coverage because of other recent controversies surrounding homosexuality. Before the media was covering gay students committing suicide, the media was discussing the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and Gay Marriage in California. The media knows that reports about homosexuality, whether supportive or opposing, will attract viewers.  According to suicide. org, suicide is attempted every seventeen minutes. Suicide shouldn’t be discussed as a problem faced by only one group of people when it is something that many different people struggle with.

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