Regardless of whether freshmen Eric Britton and David Riffle are guilty of gay bashing following an altercation with junior Jamie Bigornia on March 29, the anonymous fliers distributed to student mailboxes last Thursday were not only uncalled for, but an action that has converted this incident from a possible learning experience to an occurrence that has caused many to choose a side.
This fluorescent pink paper has eliminated any middle ground that could be reached with this conflict. If the purpose of this flier was to divide the student body, then it was successful. It did not educate anyone on tolerance. It did not heal any wounds, if anything, it deepened the cut from which the University is already bleeding.
Although only a few witnessed the actual altercation, the rest of the campus has been divided into three groups—on that sympathizes with Bigornia’s case; the supporters of the freshmen, who claim that their fists were raised in mutual combat; and those who are indifferent to the conflict.
This flier perhaps was more damaging than the punches thrown at Nick’s Place. The mind behind the written words has dragged the entire campus into the conflict of three, with hopes that ULV, rather than a jury, will personally convict these individuals.
Whether intentional or not, the flier accuses the entire baseball team of violence against homosexuals with its statement “Gay bashing is not a team sport.”
These two individuals are not the baseball team. They are two students who play for the baseball team.
Unfortunately, the entire team has taken the flack for the actions of these two.
The flier also makes reference to the players as members of “ULV’s championship baseball team.” This statement neglects the fact that the accused are freshmen, and therefore were not active in ULV baseball when the team won the national championship last year.
And who cares if they are on the baseball team? Does their association with a team sport make the act of violence any more intolerable? Violence should not be tolerated under any circumstances.
The creator of this document also has the audacity to urge students to speak out and campaign action, while whoever is the source of this paper remains anonymous. This is perhaps the most disturbing aspect for its hypocrisy.
Why should people rise up and speak out if those who urge communication are afraid to attribute their own statements?
The flier also reprints an obscene poem found in the form of graffiti on a men’s room wall a few weeks ago. It claims that those who found humor in the writing are part of the problem. “It is verbal abuse, it is hate, and it is a threat.” But, what the creator fails to recognize is that the flier defeats the purpose of denouncing hate with its method.
By cutting out the photographs of the accused, pasting them on a piece of paper along with a text condemning them, the publisher of the flier has spread his or her own hate. Hate cannot be fought with hate.
This flier has answered violence with violence, and with this action it has disregarded the rights of the two freshmen. The two parties are the only ones who know exactly what happened that night. If Britton and Riffle are innocent of gay bashing, and guilty of ensuing a fight with an individual who happened to be gay, then with the publication of this flier they have become the victims.
They have fallen victim to someone who forgot that two wrongs never make a right.
A judge and jury should reprimand these two, not the student body. However, now that everyone has a face to match with the crime, the men will have to deal with the stigma that now is now attached to them.
Regardless of whether this incident is ruled to be a hate crime or mutual combat, ULV will not soon forget the turmoil it has endured these past few weeks. This incident will surely scar the University, however it cannot do so i the wound is not allowed to heal.
Let’s remember the phrase “innocent before proven guilty;” this flier has already convicted them.