For When the Thought Police Decide to Come for You... And They Will

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

They came first for the robots,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a robot...

On April 18th the sleepy college town of Kutztown, PA, became the setting for a heated clash between religious fundamentalism and modernity.

A religious group that staged a protest at Kutztown University today drew hundreds of angry students after members of the group told them they would burn in hell if they were gay, Jewish or Catholic.

Campus police led several of protesters away in hand-cuffs and led the rest off campus after as many as 300 students gathered around the group, according to witnesses.

Campus officials said there may have been arrests because the group had not gotten permission to be on campus. The protest took place on the Day of Silence, an annual event held to bring attention to bullying, harassment and discrimination of gays and lesbians in schools.

One of those arrested was college student and robot rights activist Charles Kline.

On April 18th, I was arrested. This normally wouldn’t be big news, but the situation arround which I was arrested brings up serious questions. I was arrested at Kutztown University, where I am a student, because I decided to try to liven the mood after the Life and Liberty Ministries began to upset students. They came on campus with signs that featured aborted fetuses, lists of people who will be going to hell, and catchy phrases such as “JESUS OR HELL”. I have friends who are gay, and these people who came onto Kutztown University’s campus without permission or prior notice were upsetting students all over campus.

I decided not to simply let them upset people, so I went to the bookstore and purchased a posterboard and sharpie marker and made my own sign. It said “Equal Rights for Robots”, a saying I thought no one would be able to take the wrong way. The protesters had been on campus for about two hours at this time, and the whole time the police were protecting them from the students. To my knowledge, the protesters at this time had not been asked to leave. With my sign in hand, I walked out and waved my sign in the air.


I was charged with Disorderly Conduct with intent to “alarm or annoy” and in the citation it says I was “warned repeatedly” to stop. Neither is true, and when I pointed this out to the officer who wrote it out for me he said something along the lines of I don’t care and made a comment along the lines of tell it to the judge. I plead not guilty and face a three hundred dollar fine or up to 90 days in jail if found guilty.

I have no love for religious intolerance, nor am I a fan of robots. They terrorize the elderly and eat their medicine. They're made of metal and they're strong. But can we truly call ourselves free if we are unable to express such diverse viewpoints without fear of persecution?

"If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."
-- George Orwell, Preface to Animal Farm (1946)

"The sound of tireless voices is the price we pay for the right to hear the music of our own opinions."
-- Adlai E. Stevenson

And now a word from Old Glory Insurance...