Boise State has had its fair share of preachers visit campus. Some are peaceful and polite to students as they attempt to promote their cause, and some may be viewed as outspoken and rude.
Recently, a verbal conflict between Ken Fleck, a traveling christian preacher and a student resulted in violence, as the student forced the visiting proselytizer to the ground in front of a gathered crowd.
Before Fleck was assaulted however, another student, Ryan Wood, chose a different approach to confronting the preacher by repeatedly blowing air horns directly into the man’s face.
“The thing that really triggered it, was that the hate speech they were doing was so directed, a friend of mine ended up getting in the crossfire,” said Wood, a junior physics and philosophy major. “(She) got hit with a glancing blow, on her way to class, just trying to do the student thing. She couldn’t actually do her work, she was just kind of sobbing over her work.”
Wood claims the preacher made rude and embarrassing comments toward his female friend when visiting earlier in the week, which caused her great emotional distress.
Wood stated she was called names like “slut” and “harlot” by the preacher as she was walking by to class.
Wood had discovered his friend shortly after, and she seemed visibly upset.
“At that point, I thought, ‘this is not good’,” Wood said. “This is a problem.”
Wood went about his business, but on Wednesday, Oct. 31, he bought four air horns on his way to school to confront the preacher.
Wood hoped Fleck and his associates would still be on campus preaching.
“I thought to myself, ‘How would I be able to bring this to the attention of the people who could do something about it?’” Wood said. “Well, you gotta make a lot of noise.”
Wood found Fleck in front of the Albertsons Library, drawing a crowd.
“It didn’t even matter what he was preaching at this point, because I know the kinds of things they say,” Wood said.
Wood approached Fleck with air horn in hand, and attempted to initiate a conversation with the preacher.
“Every time that he would make a declarative statement of any sort, I would beep the horn, and then I would try and talk to him, in the gaps, and if he ever interrupted me, I would beep the horn,” Wood said.
Fleck eventually pulled out a personal amplifier and mic in an attempt to talk over the air horn.
Wood was not able to use his air horns completely, due to campus personnel intervening.
“I had about half of two of them left before the policy director here at BSU, not security at all, the policy director himself, came down, pointed out how what I was doing was disruptive, so, mission accomplished,” Wood said. “I made a lot of noise, and got the attention of somebody.”
However, the cause of the attention wasn’t due to any misstep by the preacher, but instead due to a violation of university policy #: 1100, Article X, Section A which states, “Any unreasonable level of noise caused by mechanical or other similar cause shall be prohibited.”
Wood stated that he does not want to limit the free speech of others, but thinks there is a clear difference between individual expression and
“Believe what you want, that doesn’t matter to me,” Wood said. “I will not care what you believe, I will care severely what you do, and what they were doing was disgusting.”