A friendly competition between rival universities is common and healthy. Sports, for instance, foster and engage friendly competition and cheers between group groups. While each team may want to become the more popular and stronger squad, it is the boosting of comradeship and interactions that must come first.
Whatever that begins as a friendly competition must end as it is. Human as we are, we are all competitive in nature. However, we should not allow this human nature to fuel hate in us. Abby Duling, a columnist of The Volante, the student publication of The University of South Dakota, may not know what friendly competition is all about. In her column “Home of the Coyotes, not the bunnies“, she encouraged violence against specific innocent parties, in this case the students of USD who wear SDSU gears. The “incitement to violence” is clearly described by Ms. Duling’s statement, “All of the people walking around campus with SDSU gear need to be kidnapped, smuggled into the dome and then hurled onto the floor at halftime. Then all of their SDSU backpacks, binders, pencils and SDSU lanyards need to be thrown in after them.”
My feeling is, Abby Duling is an angry person and her anger-filled column shows how hateful she is. If the article does not incite violence, then what? Does it inspire USD students to be more productive in school activities or does it tell the students to “hunt the jackrabbits and kill them”? My gully, she writes a “LIFE Column” yet she promotes “death”!
Can you call this freedom of speech when the article clearly permits incitement to violence? She can write an article that may cause students to be hurt emotionally. But she cannot write something that may risk students of serious physical harm or even death. What she wrote was encouraging the spread and incitement of violence by “asking” her co-students to commit a crime — “we will hunt them down, we will capture them, we will hold them hostage”. It is no different from what former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin said, “WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be hunted down in the way armed forces are targeting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.”
I personally believe that incitement of violence, be it oral or written, can make bloodshed more likely to happen. That what we oftentimes call as “free speech” can be one of the agents of brutal acts. Abby Duling, being a columnist of a student paper, should have been careful of the kind of tone and words she used in her article. She should know where to draw the line between doing harm to others and avoiding hate and violence. Most especially, she should know how to write responsibly and drop the personal attacks on students wearing SDSU gears!
Is the USD school spirit about kidnapping, smuggling and then hurling SDSU students onto the floor: because of students’ apparel that Abby Duling thinks is offensive? Maybe it is. As she said “It’s tradition. And tradition never stops.”
A friendly competition should benefit both schools and whatever differences there are, no school should incite their students against the other. Students should avoid this culture of violent rhetoric. I believe Ms. Duling still has to learn this.