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Corey’s Corner: Speaking your mind at Biola

Last year a student was asked by Biola to remove posters of a graphic nature, and the university’s response to that request caused quite a maelstrom. The ensuing discussions centered on when a student’s expression of conviction — even when the methods of that expression are visually disturbing — is appropriate.

EXPRESSING CONVICTIONS IN FAIRNESS 

In these intervening months, the leadership of Student Development has been pondering the question of how students should express their convictions in a way that is open and fair. The tension is often between showing the horrors of injustice against exposing graphic images to unsuspecting passers-by.

As I have said before, even in this column, I realize images have the power to change hearts and minds. This was true for exposing the Holocaust as well as mobilizing support for malnourished children, among many other examples through modern history. Just last September on the front page of the New York Times were photos of dead children — even an infant — who were victims of the Syrian chemical attacks. Those images were startling and helped me grasp even more emotionally the horrors of that civil war.

If we are a university that cares deeply about being a redemptive voice in a broken world, sometimes it takes startling images to understand the horrors of sin. What, then, should be the response of a robustly Christian university to displaying graphic images? I ask this question thinking of many examples: starving children, videos of domestic abuse, torture victims, aborted fetuses, child pornography, children being molested, victims of sex-trafficking, war crimes, etc.

GUIDELINES FOR GRAPHIC IMAGES 

I made a commitment in my Chimes column last September that by the end of the fall 2013 semester we would have a policy on the ethical and compassionate use of graphic images in places trafficked by students. Our new policy lays out guidelines for graphic images, such as those portraying victims of injustice, to be displayed on Sutherland Way, between the small fountain and the Bell Tower.

This policy has been written recognizing the need to prepare students on our campus to view provocative and potentially disturbing images, such as those depicting victims of injustice. At Biola, we encourage you as our students to follow Christ wholeheartedly, to speak up boldly for those who cannot speak for themselves, and to speak the truth with grace. We will not silence students who believe God is leading them to speak up for victims of injustice. We are committed to finding ways and appointing times and public places on campus where information, including depictions of victims of injustice, can be disseminated.

We also respect the rights of those who do not wish to view such materials, given the powerful emotions these images may evoke, and we will ensure that clear warning signs are posted concerning public displays that may be disturbing.

The updated university policy on public displays can be found at: http://studentlife.biola.edu/handbook/policies-procedure/displays/
 

Your Turn.  Post a Comment

  1. jerry lewis

    State Sen. Dan Claitor, a Baton Rouge Republican, threw his name into the race for Louisiana’s 6th Congressional district this week. That’s the same district that Tony Perkins has been openly coveting. Perkins, of course, is head of the Family Research Council, an anti-gay hate group.

    It wasn’t by coincidence, then, that Claitor expressed concern about another potential candidate who has “questionable associations with certain hate groups.” As Lauren McGaughy reported in the Times-Picayune, Claitor also likened Perkins to former Louisiana state legislator and KKK Imperial Wizard David Duke and cautioned that he doesn’t want the state to “become the focus of the national media because we have extremists running for a particular office.”

    The reference to Duke is an interesting one. Perkins, to be sure, is no David Duke. But he did purchase Duke’s supporter list in 1996 and then tried unsuccessfully to cover it up. He was later fined by the Federal Elections Commission.

    Then in 2001, Perkins was photographed addressing a gathering of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens. The group, a direct descendent of the segregationist White Citizens Councils of the 1950s and 1960s, has called African Americans a “retrograde species of humanity.” Perkins, who later denied knowledge of the group’s racist views, spoke in front of a Confederate flag (seen here, courtesy of Right Wing Watch):

    splc February 7, 2014

  2. jerry lewis

    A man convicted of firebombing abortion clinics in the 1980s has been charged with molesting an eleven year-old girl.

    At least eight people identified Curtis Anton Beseda as the man seen in video surveillance released to the media on Tuesday. Prosecutors on Friday charged Beseda, 58, with first-degree child molestation in connection with the groping.A judge issued a $250,000 arrest warrant for Beseda.

    jmg

    So much for valuing human life. February 9, 2014

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