I f you believe that actions speak louder than words, we’ve been sending some rather mixed messages lately.

Take Back the Night got a great deal of press, and I can’t help wondering, is it for the right reasons? In protesting against rape last Friday, the TBTN folk resembled a lynch mob wandering around campus. Rape is a problem not limited to the college environment, but is yelling and screaming, or as was the practice in past years, chalking vulgar graffiti, really the way to fight it? And should we devote only a week to the problem? As is so common in our society, we jump from issue to issue, week by week. And by adopting militant methods to hopefully scare offenders straight, are we doing anything more than rallying the base? We’d all like to think so, but I’m not so sure. While TBTN is important, for the most part it is little more than a noisy, temporary bandage on a hemorrhaging gash. In its attempt to send a message of reform and progress, it only manages to send one of muffled shouts and indignation.

Another recent attempt at sending a clear message, though, showed us that all speech is sacred, except that with which some disagree. That seems to be the belief of the Faculty Senate, which, in response to Cardinal Francis Arinze’s May commencement address, passed a resolution calling for University President John J. DeGioia to reaffirm Georgetown’s commitment to an “inclusive, pluralistic community.” DeGioia is smart to ignore this balderdash. Not only does the reaffirmation serve no purpose, but it sends a confusing message. Doesn’t inclusive and pluralistic mean accepting of every opinion?

By now, we’re all familiar with Cardinal Arinze’s address, especially the part in which he stated that the family “is mocked by homosexuality.” What he said wasn’t out of left field, politically speaking. If you research how the rest of our nation feels about that comment, the average person would probably not use such harsh words, but would still object to gay marriage. Poll after poll reminds us that about 60 percent of Americans are against gay marriage and adoption. But politics aside, what sort of message does the Senate’s condemnation send? Aren’t we mature enough to respect, if not learn from, different opinions; or must we issue resolutions against those who espouse them? Some say a graduation speech isn’t an appropriate event in which to forward an opinion. Personally, while I’m here paying my $40,000 a year, I don’t mind having my beliefs constantly challenged. If I had to choose between a canned “now, go take on the world” speech and one that challenged my sensibilities and motivated me to think about my position, I’d choose the latter.

Your stance on the issues of gay marriage and adoption doesn’t matter. Arinze could have spoken about anything that earned the ire of the Faculty Senate, and I’d still be writing this column. Higher education is about the expression and challenging of ideas. We do it all under the guise of learning, of developing, of better understanding. We must accept and encourage divergent opinions, especially if they piss us off. Aren’t we a people so dedicated to the first amendment that we tolerate flag burnings, the Ku Klux Klan and Cardinal Arinze’s opinion?

When Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz came to campus last month, he was greeted with a largely supportive audience. And then, there were the GU Peace Action members, who tried, in vain, to display a banner in Gaston Hall chastising Wolfowitz for the attack on Iraq. Learning that they could not display their banner, many were furious, calling it a repression of their free speech. “In the name of the ideal of freedom,” one protestor masquerading as a questioner yelled to the Secretary, “we assembled a message for you that was taken away from us.”

In retrospect, it is clear that such behavior was out of line and juvenile in nature, and became embarrassing for the questioners when Wolfowitz rebuked them. Thankfully, no resolution was passed critical of Peace Action’s childishness, but what kind of message did they send about Georgetown students, or about our generation as a whole? That we’re more comfortable with blind anger and misplaced arrogance than serious discussion and thoughtful reflection? That’s probably what viewers thought when the question and answer session was picked up by the Al Jazeera network.

We often pursue actions without thinking them through. In trying to make a point, we fail to realize that our actions are what people will remember, long after our words have been forgotten. When TBTN has closed up shop for the year, when Cardinal Arinze’s speech is nothing more than a page in the yearbook and when Peace Action has run out of angry liberals for membership, there will still be the precedent of today’s actions, which are ill-conceived at best, and wrong headed at worst. We will remember that, in seeking to make a point, the best some of us could do is make a scene.

Adam Jones is a senior in the College and can be reached at jonesthehoya.com. POINT OF ORDER appears every other Friday.

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