The graffiti wall is not my favorite. It is true that it has been used to voice hate anonymously. Yet, will dismantling the wall – unscrewing the bolts – end the bigotry? The anonymous transphobe will still harbor hate here, at our “liberal campus”. If Knox already does not live up to its liberal ideals, ignoring hate provides no solution.
Leaving the wall up represents a hope. It surely doesn’t look it – maybe it is a victim of the tragedy of the commons – but think about it as a Mr. Rogers-style beacon of civic duty; it has been used to bring the Knox community together at times of loss, and to rally around political causes such as Environmentalism.
It’s hard to defend free speech in the current atmosphere, because it’s been abused, but without it tensions fester perniciously. Free speech here has catalyzed conversation and sparked popular condemnation of hatred. This may be little consolation for students the targets of hate, but it is the job of all spreading love to paint over bigotry.
To foster the free use of the space for positive expression and love, perhaps the senate, instead of demolishing the wall, can provide paint during the RA on-duty hours. This would equalize access and would devote specific time to diverse gathering and exchange, fostering understanding.
Solutions to increase the frequency of its use for good can be found, but by demolishing the wall, we only squander the opportunity and the hope for widespread common understanding which it represents.
Allen Irvine ‘20