Freedom of speech causes student cluster in quad

(Katrina Andaya)

Kiralynn Edmondson, Erik Woods

Earlier today there was a gathering of students surrounding a man holding a sign voicing his religious opinions. 

Paul Mitchell is a born-again Christian, citing his past involvement with “Sex, drugs, and rock and roll, while growing up in Long Beach.”  During his piece he proclaimed “How many of you would like to go to heaven when you die?  Only if you repent, will you go to heaven.” 

A collection of at least 70 students heckled Mitchell, yelling “Go away!” “Screw this guy!” “Jesus loves sinners!” Another student apparently created his own sign, containing some profane language directed at Mitchell.  Mitchell responded with “You’re all used to seeing mommy, but not daddy.”

This comment made a few students upset, and the heckling continued.  After about 15 minutes of verbal abuse, Mitchell invited students and any other attendees to join him at a nearby table if they wanted to hear more of what he had to say.  Several students did follow Mitchell and joined him to either voice their opinion or just to hear what he had to say. 

Once Mitchell sat down he removed his hat and put his sign down.  He then spoke with the smaller audience.

“There is a God,” Mitchell said. “He sent his son to die for us, and there will be hell to pay if you don’t believe in him.” 

“This kind of communication is so much more effective, what you were doing earlier comes off in a negative way, with no positive effect,” student Reann Vargas said. “Lead with love, not condemnation.”

Vargas quickly turned to the officers on site and asked if he had a right to be on campus, and whether this was appropriate for a place of learning.  The officers said he had every right to be there.  Vargas then asked if the officers would protect the rights of someone else had the subject been different, controversial or not. 

“Absolutely, we are here to keep peace on campus,” the officer said.

This was also not the first time Mitchell has visited Saddleback College, he has been seen on the campus infrequently since 2009. 

 

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