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Friday, October 20, 1995

Provoking dialogue and debate

"Brother Jed's" appearance on campus tests our commitment to freedom of speech

Editorial Board
Iowa State Daily

It was discouraging to hear some of the responses to Evangelist Jed Smock, a speaker on the Iowa State campus earlier this week.

Smock, or "Brother Jed," as he is affectionately referred to, admittedly preaches a "tough" message that is confrontational and sometimes offending. And Brother Jed himself may not possess a unconventional fluency when speaking.

Let's face it, Brother Jed could just be ... well, a little strange. But that doesn't matter. Brother Jed has a Constitutional right to speak his mind on public property, and Iowa State University is about as public as property gets.

You may not agree with, or even like, Brother Jed. That is not a reason, however, to insist that Brother Jed "take his message elsewhere."

And when broken down, Brother Jed's words did include a hint of practicality.

"I'm just trying to get people to think, to provoke dialogue and debate," he said.

Not all -- OK, most -- of Brother Jed's comments were that tame. At times, however, it wasn't his message that was being attacked; it was his presence

Brother Jed, and evangelists in general, don't often speak without making waves. But they're allowed to. Freedom of speech is one of the most basic of all rights we afford to Americans -- Brother Jed included.


This article was published on Friday, October 20, 1995.
Copyright 1995 by the Iowa State Daily Publications Board. All rights reserved. No redistribution without the express written consent of the Iowa State Daily Editor in Chief.