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Professor speaks on rights of individuals

Nov. 6, 1997

By Lori Lenarduzzi

Staff writer for The Baylor Lariat

There is 'unavoidable tension' between individual rights and where the government limits them, a visiting professor from Kansas State University told students on Wednesday.

Dr. Paul Parsons has been on campus for the past two weeks as a part of the Big 12 Faculty Exchange Program.

The program gives professors in the conference the opportunity to visit other Big 12 universities.

In his speech, Parsons spoke about civil rights and where they fit into the American culture.

He discussed the right of free speech and how it is not absolute. He then had the audience participate in an exercise where it was up to them to decide when he had abused his free speech right.

'It was interesting to see the different views of when people in the room thought he had gone too far with what he was saying,' Amy Prior, a Corpus Christi senior, said.

Parsons urged students to stand strong in their own opinions and beliefs, but to keep others' views in mind as well.

'Recognize that when you talk only with those who share your views, you're not seeking conversation at all,' Parsons said.

With regard to free speech, Parsons said the government will let most freedom of speech go on until it becomes action.

'Revolutionary speech is permissible, but a plan of action is punishable,' Parsons said.

Parsons went on to say America is moving toward individual rights at a faster rate than many countries.

'I thought it was interesting that he made that point,' Neal Suit, a Macon, Ga., senior, said. 'I think it is important to remember that there is tension between individual rights and the common good. There isn't a rigid, universal standard in this country, and we are able to decide case by case.'

Parsons graduated from Baylor in 1974. He served as editor of The Baylor Lariat three times. He also worked for United Press International and the Associated Press in Arkansas. Parsons has been awarded several teaching awards and is a published author.

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