Beginning today, the University of Colorado at Boulder could be picketed by members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. As many of you know, this organization targets traditions and institutions ranging from military funerals to public schools to drive home a strongly anti-gay, hateful, despicable set of messages.
As I have said many times, our university is a place of debate, discussion and the engagement of ideas, but I believe engaging and debating the membership of Westboro Baptist Church is beneath the dignity of the members of our community, and will result in nothing but media attention for the group attention it greatly desires. Therefore, I would ask that if the group should come to campus or to the Boulder community, that all of us refrain from counter-demonstrating against it. Let us affirm our community and our humanity by full immersion in our research, teaching, scholarship and community service, and not give the group attention it clearly does not deserve.
Should individuals or groups affiliated with CU-Boulder wish to proceed with counter-protests, I would ask that these be done in ways that elevate the ideals of our community and express our collective humanity, and that they not be done with provocative or violent overtones or messages.
Philip P. DiStefano, chancellor
University of Colorado at Boulder