Letter to the editor: Jessica Heppard

Posted on Sep 15 2017 - 8:00am by Jessica Heppard

This letter is in response to Kyle Brassell’s letter in the Sept. 1 issue of The Daily Mississippian. In case readers have forgotten the contents of that letter, Mr. Brassell first expressed disappointment in black students’ reactions to the racially charged event at a Greek weekend here and then attributed these emotional reactions to a lack of ideological diversity on campus, clearly suggesting that people had overreacted and should accept these types of messages as just acceptable ideological diversity within the student body.

First, I would like to address the many people who don’t seem to understand fellow students’ reactions to a racially charged event. I think the comedian Louis C.K. put it best when he said, “When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.” No one gets to decide that a student’s understandable, visceral response to a perceived threat isn’t valid.  Person A doesn’t get to decide that Person B shouldn’t be allowed to be upset because it reminds Person A that millions of Americans live with the weight of history and present politics that make them feel unwelcome in their own country. When a person is hurt, we need to take that seriously and understand how it was caused and how to make sure it never happens again.

And now on to the “need for ideological diversity.” Not all rhetoric deserves a platform. Hate speech based on race, religion, gender or sexuality does not have any “intellectual merit,” does not need to be debated, does not need to be heard or uttered. I shouldn’t have to explain why; we literally just had a Holocaust survivor speak on this campus. Students should not be subjected to racial slurs or symbols of racist ideology as a form of “political debate.” Do not equate the struggles of groups subjected to centuries of violence and oppression with the struggles of white supremacists to find a place to host their hateful rhetoric. Hate speech and symbols of racial intimidation have no place on this university campus or in this nation.

Jessica Heppard is a master’s student in biology from Katy, Texas.