KA’s parade should not be stopped

Drew Hoover

Published: Wednesday, April 29, 2009

After reading Amanda Peterson’s article on the Kappa Alpha parade, I was surprised that Joyce Stallworth would advocate suspending the free speech of students on the University of Alabama’s campus. Even if, in the worst-case scenario, Kappa Alpha’s intentions for holding the parade or pausing on sorority row were malicious – an idea that is, to my knowledge utterly unfounded – that still constitutes speech. The last time I checked, the First Amendment protects all speech, even hate speech. Free speech is a precious commodity on the campus, and we should all be concerned when someone tries to take it away, no matter the circumstance.

The issue here is actually greater than a single parade or a single offended sorority.

This instance reflects basic race relations of the University of Alabama. If an organization is outwardly belligerent or prejudiced toward another group, the solution to that problem should not be to silence that organization’s voice. Restricting the rights of an individual rarely helps in resolving conflicts. I question whether restricting rights can result in anything resembling a moral solution. If KA were trying to make a statement to AKA as Stallworth’s reaction to the event implies, then Stallworth’s letter should be addressed to KA and not UA President Robert Witt.

A better solution? Host a forum in which AKA invites students from KA to come and talk about Old South Day, provided AKA has the opportunity to explain the way in which the parade affected them. No two individuals experience the same symbol in exactly the same way. Add two widely diverging racial heritages, and it becomes very difficult for individuals to understand each other’s intentions and actions. I am sure that this forum would be infinitely more beneficial than the mutual resentment that will result from AKA moving to have KA’s Old South Day banned. I am sure KA would be willing and eager to explain the cultural value and honorable intentions behind Old South Day.