Kudos to the Student Who Played Bagpipes Over Man’s Homophobic Rant (Video)
In case you missed it (I know I did), here’s a video (also viewable here) of a Florida Gulf Coast University student, Brice Ehmig, confronting a homophobic preacher on campus a couple weeks ago by playing Amazing Grace into her bagpipes while he spewed anti-gay nonsense into a megaphone.
The video of her musical protest, recorded by her girlfriend Gabrielle Cicolani, has received over 153,000 views via Facebook as of this morning. (Midday Friday update: It’s now over 185,000 views.)
As a local NBC affiliate reports, the man had apparently been shouting on campus for days, and Ehmig “just couldn’t take it anymore.” Ehmig also thought of her 12-year-old self: “When I hear things like that, I just think about me when I was 12 and still in the closet and feeling really bad about myself. I wouldn’t want her to feel bad, 12-year-old me. I need to stand up for her.”
While many people have praised her unusual protest (including George Takei!), others have criticized her, including Trevor Brown, a student at her university, who said that “in a way, she was being disrespectful too.”
I love her protest, and I disagree with the critics, including Mr. Brown. Sure, as a general matter, when we don’t like what others say, we should still let them be heard; we can then express our disagreement and, ideally, have a conversation. But as far as I can tell, this preacher wasn’t having any trouble being heard: He had been yelling his hateful tirade for days before Ehmig showed up with her bagpipes, and even with the bagpipes, you can still hear what he’s saying. So it’s not like she silenced him. Nor was she intruding on some private space of his; she was just another (musical) speaker in the open square. Plus, her bagpipes actually produced a much larger audience for him than he ever would have gotten alone. Anyway, I don’t get the sense that this man’s main objective was a reasoned debate. (Pro tip: If you’d like to convince college students to adopt your controversial religious beliefs or at least get them to engage with your ideas, consider the possibility that yelling through a megaphone at random passers-by on campus may be counterproductive.)