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Opinion: Dr. Larry Burriss' take on "Forrest"


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  I’ve heard that the best defense is a good offense.  Or maybe it’s the other way around, the best offense is a good defense.  Whichever, this is my attempt to strike first and head off what may be a problem at MTSU.

As you may have heard, there is currently a move afoot to change the name of Forrest Hall, named for Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. 

Remember now, MTSU is supposed to be dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and the free exchange of ideas.  So I hope the University will do all in its power to protect anyone who may not want to change the name.  In fact, I hope the entire faculty will stand behind anyone who exercises their right to free speech and the free exchange of ideas, no matter how offensive.

Now, here’s a solution to the name problem that is sure to cause a conundrum for the thought police.  I recommend that we change the name of the building from Forrest Hall to . . . Forrest Hall, named in honor of a Tennessee native who was a World War II aviation general who died saving his aircrew in a raid over Germany.  This Gen. Forrest was the first U.S. general to be killed in the war, and he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Now, if the P-C police are concerned that it is the name “Forrest,” that is the problem, then I think we may need to research every name on every building on campus to make sure there aren’t any unsavory people with the same name as the namesake of the building.  After all, we don’t want anyone to be offended, do we? 

Or, what do we do if the namesake of a building has a distant relative with an unsavory past?  Will the thought police get upset about that?

Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more examples where university faculty have been dismissed, have had their employment revoked and have been censured for what they say.  I certainly hope the MTSU administration and faculty are not so closed minded they would want to censor, or censure, someone for what they think or say in the all-important search for truth.

I’m Larry Burriss