It was nearly impossible to avoid the spectacle that occurred on the Quad last Wednesday and Thursday. For anyone who did not visit the Quad those days, they were fortunate enough to miss the latest visit from “preacher” Jed Smock, who felt he had a calling to come to Illinois State and inform the students about the evil of their ways. This did not go over very well with many students, which lead to some intense verbal altercations between Smock and the spectators.
A strong case could be made that Smock and his wife were, at the very least, overzealous in their attempts to reach out to ISU students. Many of the claims they made, such as Mrs. Smock’s assertion that “sex causes cancer” were not credible, though perhaps humorous. Some statements were offensive, and it was hard not to be agitated by them.
“As a Catholic, it just annoyed me. His views were very close-minded. He was basically saying we were all going to hell because we were in college and all college kids are sinners,” ISU freshman Jordan Oliva said.
The reactions of some students to the Smocks were just as rambunctious as the Smocks themselves. Both sides of the argument were insulted frequently, provoking them to continue making offensive and controversial statements. The combination was incredibly ugly.
While many Illinois State students have some serious disagreements with the Smocks and their ideals, students need to realize that berating the two of them only incites their behavior. This editorial board believes that if students are truly annoyed with visits from people like the Smocks, then simply ignoring them is the best course of action.
There were very few people that were not offended by what Jed Smock stated. His rants extended from feminists to liberals, and anyone who was gay or supported gay rights. It really didn’t seem to matter who you were, there was some reason why you were evil and “destined for hell.” So perhaps it was only natural for some students to fight back at his claims.
Insulting the Smocks, however, was the completely wrong response. While many students simply watched, there were some that felt they needed to attack the Smocks on a personal level. While it can be argued that this was exactly what the Smocks were doing, answering with hatred only provoked them to continue.
They like being insulted because it confirms everything they are asserting — that a majority of the students at ISU are evil and are in need of saving. Feeding the Smocks with that kind of reaction will only invite them back for more.
If ISU students truly wanted to challenge people like the Smocks, then engaging in rational and critical discussion is the best course. Engaging in debate, if anything, will display the intelligence and prowess of ISU students. While it may not change their opinions, it is an improvement over simply insulting them.
Next time Jed Smock or someone with a similar mission visits, this editorial board advises simply ignoring him. If not, then at the very least attempt civil discussion with him. Just because people like the Smocks are offensive and irrational doesn’t mean that students should sink to their level. If the Smocks aren’t given the attention they seek, and ISU students prove that they aren’t the corrupt youth that they believe, then the Smocks will have no reason to continue their visits to ISU. In the end, that is what everyone wants.