Argument spurs free speech debate

Students clash
over religion,

John Murguerza / Reporter

On Sept. 26, an incident in the Harvin Center involving religion and homosexuality turned into a heated argument in which Del Mar security had to be called.

According to Del Mar student Megan Luna, who was one of the students involved, fellow student Nick Himes yelled at her, “You’re the devil! You’re the devil!” Luna said that after Himes’ outburst, which caused the Harvin Center to become silent, Himes continued his tirade, telling another female student God thinks she’s a whore because her skirt was too short. The student who was wearing the skirt was trying to defend Luna, saying God still loves her and Himes doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

“I’ve been bullied before for being gay, but never like that,” Luna said. “He took it to a whole new level involving God and religion.”

Himes says he never said Luna was the devil, but has the spirit of the devil on her. As for the student who Luna says Himes called a whore, Himes says he never called her a whore but said she was “dressed like a whore.”

Himes said he holds no grudge against Luna and accepts her homosexuality but doesn’t agree with it because of his beliefs.

“I handled it the best way I could, it could’ve got worse,” Himes said when asked if he had any regrets on how he handled the situation. Himes says he had every legal right to say what he wants to because of his right to freedom of speech.

“I don’t care where I’m at, I’m going to bring the word of God forth wherever I’m at and deal with the consequences later,” said Himes, a church member of Israel United In Christ who holds services in his own home.

According to Dr. Paul Gottemoller, assistant professor of political science at Del Mar College, if someone is expressing their religious views regardless of how extreme they are you have the right to say it, as long there is not the threat of violence.

When asked what he thought of the idea of free speech zones, Gottemoller said, “I find them slightly silly, because it’s the idea of you can say whatever you want but only in this one spot.” According to Gottemoller, there’s nothing wrong with anybody expressing their ideas, you just need to know the appropriate time and the place for it.

“It is important for the college to be a venue for expressing diverse and even unpopular opinions, and that has been the bedrock of the whole educational process since the Middle Ages,” said Claudia Jackson, executive director of Community and Legislative Relations for Del Mar College.

Jackson said DMC has two designated free speech zones, Creighton Plaza and in front of the Coleman Center. Jackson said anybody from student, faculty and even members of the public at anytime can go to the free speech zones and start talking about whatever they want as long as they are not being disruptive. According to Jackson, DMC feels that the free expression and free exploration of ideas are critical for learning up to but not including infringing on someone’s rights.

According to, the First Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The first 10 amendments were ratified Dec. 15, 1791, and form what is known as the Bill of Rights.

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