You’re a college professor and you want to teach your students about the First Amendment.
Putting fundamentalists in front of class is nothing new for Tim Boudreau, a Central Michigan University professor known for challenging his media law students each semester with an unpopular guest speaker designed to illustrate the breadth of First Amendment protections.
But the Holland native said he was “surprised as hell” when Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps, responded favorably to his e-mailed invitation.
The Phelpses came to campus earlier this week:
Doors to the classroom were locked and guarded by members of the campus police. Only students and guests cleared by Professor Tim Boudreau, who invited them, were allowed inside…
Fruitport senior Kara Eastling walked out of the 5 p.m. session and said she thought the Westboro members were a “good example of intolerance.”
“Honestly, it’s hard to put into words,” she said. “I think it was a good learning experience. It actually makes me feel better about myself. I’m glad I’m not like that.”
Gotta say, as an educator, I find that to be a savvy move.
Students have to learn that the First Amendment protects the right to free speech, including speech you may find offensive or blasphemous.
Bringing in the extremists to make that point for you?
The students won’t ever forget it.
(Thanks to Larry for the link!)