Let’s not shout at Santorum

Self-proclaimed pro-lifers, gay marriage opponents and intelligent design advocates – whether students, faculty or visitors – are likely to run into vocal opposition on our campus. When Rick Santorum, a man who built his career fiercely advocating each of these positions, takes the podium tonight, we hope students will listen and choose to agree or disagree respectfully rather than turning his lecture into something akin to “Nonie Darwish: The Sequel.”

Two months ago, Nonie Darwish’s harsh criticisms of Islamism and Middle Eastern nations sparked anarchy in Salomon 101. Regardless of whether they agreed with her, student attendees expressed disappointment and even disgust at the personal attacks and shouting matches that broke out during the question and answer session.

Tonight, Santorum’s speech could sadly elicit a similarly hysterical response.

The Lecture Board’s decision to bring the two-term former Pennsylvania senator – who is largely derided by mainstream media and reviled by most left-leaning Americans – to our famously liberal campus may seem like asking for trouble. Landing a conservative speaker in Salomon may be a superficial attempt to infuse Brown with intellectual diversity. But Santorum’s speech on what the Lecture Board described as “his effort to protect traditional marriage and his struggle to reverse the media’s onslaught against virtue” will undoubtedly challenge the views of many students and faculty.

And so while we hope the event will spur a lively discussion as audience members ask questions of the senator, we also urge attendees to be civil. Displays of political vitriol not only embarrass our community and reinforce stereotypes about Brown but also diminish the University’s role as a forum for intellectual discourse.

This time around, let’s show a guest that we know how to behave.