Letter to the Editor: Welcome to the Zou, don't feed the animals

Although some preachers in Speakers Circle spew hate, refuse to retaliate with the same behavior.

Our beloved landmark, Speakers Circle, was graced once again by the presence of radical conservative protesters preaching their gospel on Monday, October 19. These protesters know their rights and use freedom of speech as a weapon, turning it against their fellow Americans; attacking every possible minority, sexual orientation or any difference that doesn't align with their ideals.

They preach hatred as if it were truth. They openly judge and hide behind the claim they're performing "The Lord's work." They shift the blame to victims and say countless unspeakable things.

Students at Mizzou, when we respond to their messages by gathering around them, attacking them verbally, we embrace the same animalistic behavior they've shown us.

I myself lost control and joined a group of students screaming at one of the traveling preachers. I felt empowered — like I was speaking on behalf of those too frail or too afraid to scream and stand up for themselves. My animosity for these strangers burned inside of me. I felt brave and liberated because of my actions. I went to war and returned calloused.

Later that night, attention was drawn to my behavior. I reflected on my actions by viewing Snapchats I’d posted in the heat of the moment. At first, my arguments were logical, but eventually they just became a stream of cuss words and a comment on the preacher's poor taste of attire.

I joined a mob and behaved similarly to the radicals. I judged. I shifted the blame, saying my behavior was warranted because of the speaker's cruelty and finally, worst of all, I was fueled by hatred.

The worst realization came when I thought about the long-term effects of my behavior. Nothing I did benefited anybody or positively influenced the campus at all. The protester left and made his way to the next campus. If anything, I fueled his preaching. I allowed him to think students at MU were angry and violent and thus needed his message.

In the future, I beg the students of Mizzou not to interact with hatred screamed at them. I implore students to use freedom of speech granted by Speakers Circle to discuss how to improve our campus. Ask your friends, "How can we make Mizzou more inclusive?" Or, "How can we prevent the use of hate speech to disregard people's humanity?"

Mizzou, we are a diverse campus and our diversity makes us strong. We should not be insecure in this fact that we go to war with radical protesters every time they visit our home.

In the words of my favorite author, Haruki Murakami, "Listen up — there's no war that will end all wars." That's why I, Zachary Kilgas, will henceforth preach peace.

Zachary Kilgas,


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