Letter to the Editor | Brother Jed interview legitimizes hate speech
October 20, 2019
I was shocked to open The Daily Illini and find the front-page article titled, “Brother Jed sparks controversy.” To my dismay, the article replicates uncritically the language of a figure who is known for his anti-gay rhetoric.
Framing controversial figures in media requires a careful eye for balancing criticism with sympathy. The DI failed to do this, and so normalizes Jed’s more hateful ideas.
The article legitimates Jed by casting him as a noble demonstrator. The DI writes Jed is “against college students’ promiscuous behavior and liberal beliefs” and “sinful ideals.” It is unacceptable to portray Jed this way because it disguises his repressive ideology. To say Jed is against “promiscuous behavior” is a half-truth at best. What is omitted here is Jed’s idea of bad behavior is really about homosexuality. Anyone who has heard him on campus knows queer people are the explicit target for Jed’s gerontocratic polemics.
Jed is a Christian conservative fundamentalist who does not see queer people as worthy of basic respect or civil rights. To cast Jed’s views as somehow open for debate is a glaring mistake.
It is wrong to assume Jed produces reasoned discussion. Jed comes to express his deep-seated disgust toward the queer members of our society. Frustrated at the changing world, Jed seeks the thrill of offending small crowds of impressionable college students. The DI saw fit to endorse this extractive relationship and boost it to new heights.
Instead of publishing flattering front-page stories, let’s treat this kind of speech for what it is: an embarrassing nuisance at best, or at worst, the first step in a chain culminating in violence against marginalized people.
Jed is not a noble demonstrator. He is a scornful gay-basher. This fossilized sort of persistent authoritarianism ought to be resisted, not encouraged.
The Daily Illini should apologize to all our queer friends, professors, family and community members for providing a harmful anti-gay ideologue with a large, sympathetic platform on the front page of our University newspaper.
Jared is a senior in LAS.