Freedom of speech? Whose freedom? And who pays for UTC's learning atmosphere?

Freedom of speech? Whose freedom? And who pays for UTC's learning atmosphere?

November 20th, 2013 by Pam Sohn in Opinion Times

A sign marks an entrance to the UTC campus.

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

Talking it up at UTC

Preacher woman Angela Cummings -- claiming to be sharing Christ but actually spewing hate: "You adulterers and adulteresses... Lesbo alert, lesbians are on this campus..." -- has freedom of speech. So she has been screaming out her message on the sidewalks of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus.

A biochemistry student, Cole Montalvo, implored of her: "Hey, Ma'am: If you're trying to spread the good word, maybe you shouldn't be telling everyone they're sinners."

Unlike Cummings, Montalvo was courteous. Unlike Cummings, he was advocating a course of love, rather than one so full of darkness.

Of course, Montalvo, too, has freedom of speech, but you wouldn't know it from watching a four-minute video of the UTC encounter. During that time, and after his suggestion that Cummings might lighten up a bit, UTC campus police jumped Montalvo as he was pulling away to leave the circle of orange cones the school gave the street preacher for "security."

Four police and security officers pushed Montalvo to the ground. One officer maced him as while another officer held his hands behind him. Then security officers rolled him to his stomach and handcuffed him. The only real resistance Montalvo ever showed was to ask what he did to be arrested. He is charged with disorderly conduct, inciting to riot, obstruction of justice and resisting arrest.

What a farce! If anyone was inciting to riot, it was the street preacher. If anyone was obstructing justice -- Montalvo's right to free speech -- it was campus security. If anyone was disorderly, it was the cop who maced Montalvo as he sat flat on the pavement with his hands held behind him.

As students watching were quick to point out in angry terms, Montalvo is a student who is paying for the use of the sidewalk, the street preacher isn't, yet she has police protection and cones marking out a space just for her. She sought out university permission to spread her "gospel" on campus as Highways and Hedges Ministry, Inc. It has an email and Paypal address.

On Monday, UTC offered this for explanation: "She (Cummings) is associated with another preacher who recently prevailed against the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in a free speech lawsuit. At this time, the campus has no legal basis upon which to deny permission for the speakers to access campus," wrote new Chancellor Steve Angle in an email to students, faculty and staff.

Really? Well, perhaps Montalvo needs to get a lawyer, too. Then he can have some orange cones and maybe even carry his own mace, right?

Another Marion coach arrested

In another terrific example of teaching sportsmanship at Marion County High School, assistant coach Joe Dan Gudger, was charged Tuesday with vandalizing his own school's fieldhouse, apparently in hopes of pinning it on supporters of rival South Pittsburg High School. He also was charged with unlawful possession of alcohol on school property.

It is the second arrest in the Nov. 1 pregame, "inspire"-the-team vandalism of Marion County's facilities. The first person arrested was assistant coach Michael Schmitt. Both men also are teachers at Marion County High.

After the first arrest, county investigators pulled Schmitt's cell phone records and discovered conversations between Schmitt and other coaches discussing painting the field house and making it look like South Pittsburg supporters were the culprits.

No, these men are not adolescents. But they are apparently not good role models, either.