Letter to the Editor: Kyle Brooks speaks on his decision to videotape speaker

March 12, 2014

I am writing to discuss the viral video I took of a recent lecture in my GenEd 130, in which candidate for Milwaukee alderman Eyon Biddle is featured speaking about Republican racism and “white rage.” First, I want to point out that Mr. Biddle is a candidate for public office, as well as a well known public figure in Milwaukee. His conduct in a public setting is under more scrutiny than that of an average private citizen, because he has chosen to make himself a public figure. I did not record my professor, as she is a private citizen, nor did I record any students. Once Eyon Biddle began to make his outrageous remarks, it was my duty to let his constituents know what their candidate really believes. Since Mr. Biddle wanted to have an honest discussion about the issues he feels strongly about, he should have no objection to me videoing him and posting it. Now, his lecture is receiving more discussion than he could have imagined. Further, by allowing his views to be heard by a national audience, I have been accused of not believing in the First Amendment. To that point, I say there is not a stronger believer in the First Amendment than myself, as a strict constitutionalist. I believe Eyon Biddle has every right to say anything he wants. My objection, and the reason I chose to shoot the video, is his lecture went beyond simply a liberal leaning presentation. He used his forum to accuse people who don’t agree with him of being racist, and to say the problems of society today are simply the result of Republican racism. If this is what Mr. Biddle believes, than that is fine for him to say; but in a classroom setting, a candidate for office cannot say something so inaccurate and expect no repercussion. Had the video not been taped and then gone national, a counter perspective would not have been invited to give a guest lecture to the class, and Mr. Biddle’s lecture would have been the last word on the issue. Now, in credit to the professor, a conservative speaker will come into the class and provide an alternative view to Mr. Biddle’s belief that the Republican Party is fueled by “white rage.” There is no question in my mind the classroom should be a safe environment, however a public figure and candidate for office should not expect his words, especially if they are intolerant and untrue, to go undocumented for the public at large to see. This was not a lecture open to the university at large, but rather a lecture in a required class with no counter balance, until now. The community and parents deserve to know what students are being taught in class, because their money and the university’s credibility is on the line. Knowledge is power, and having too much information is never a bad thing. If one is opposed to me taping the lecture, then they obviously realize how radical it was, or else they wouldn’t mind the public knowing about it. Therefore, I support Mr. Biddle’s right to speak his mind wholeheartedly, however the public has a right to know what is being said by a candidate for office to impressionable minds in a required course, and decide for themselves if it was appropriate or not.

Kyle Brooks