How long can college students wait for a guest speaker to arrive?
Until he gets there.
At least, that was the case a week ago Monday when a near capacity-filled Chapel-Auditorium at Tabor College waited about 30 minutes for Kansas Atty. Gen. Phill Kline to arrive at the college’s weekly convocation meeting.
Kline had notified school officials that he was on his way.
In the meantime, President Larry Nikkel, Dean of Students James Fischer, students Mike Woods, Becky Lutes and Michael Friesen found ways to keep the audience entertained.
Finally, Kline-somewhat winded-entered the room. Following an introduction, he stepped up to the podium.
During his speech, Kline urged the audience to recognize the necessity of sometimes choosing to practice intolerance rather than tolerance.
“You see, there are some things in this life which we must be intolerant of-injustice, hate, persecution,” Kline said. “But when you listen to our culture today, all you hear is that what we are called to be is completely tolerant.
“And I want to replace that word with something entirely different, a word with much deeper meaning, and that is the word compassion,” he added.
Kline used both historic and current examples to support his call to intolerance of injustice and exploitation.
“We are called as a nation to hold up the promise that when the weakest among us are being exploited, we will act,” Kline said. “When the disenfranchised and the forgotten among us are being exploited, we will act because we recognized that each and every single human life has value….That’s the founding principle of this country.”
He illustrated his point with a recent incident that attracted national attention to his office.
In spring, Kline’s office pulled more than 1,600 compact discs by controversial artists out of shipments headed for state libraries because of a national consumer protection settlement.
Kline told the Tabor audience that his decision to remove the CDs was made out of “discretion, not censorship.”
The lyrics of those CDs promoted violence against law enforcement, violence against women and drug use, Kline said.
He said while he supported the right of free speech, this was not a free-speech issue.
“If you will endeavor to be the people’s truth, and to exercise true meaning of grace,” Kline told his audience, “you will touch the world in a way you will never, ever be able to measure.”