Brother Carl was a legend at the University of North Texas when I was a student there. Every Wednesday at 11 a.m., he would show up at the "free speech" area of campus and preach.

I never got to see him in person (I had an 11 a.m. class on Wednesdays every semester), but I'd always see the crowd forming before he got there.

No one showed up because they believed--they showed up for the rant.

Brother Carl believed everyone was going to hell. If you were a woman who wore makeup, you were going to hell. If you were a man with long hair, you were going to hell. If you were a woman who wore pants, you were going to hell. If you listened to rock and roll, you were going to hell. If you listened to country, you were going to hell. If you laughed while Brother Carl was preaching (and there were a lot of people laughing), you were going to hell. In fact, the few people who said they agreed with Brother Carl were usually told that they were going to hell, too.

More than likely, Brother Carl believed that he was one of the four people who would make it to the Pearly Gates, and the Quartet of the Saved could laugh at all us hellbound losers through all eternity.

One day, Brother Carl just quit showing up. No one ever found out why he quit visiting the campus to damn us to hell.

The reason why Brother Carl stopped showing up is actually an exercise in Constitutional law.

One week Brother Carl was doing his usual Pat- Robertson-on-crack rantings, damning everyone and their mother to Hell for whatever non-Republican activity they might be doing. A couple -- who later turn out to be engaged -- walks by, and Brother Carl calls the girl a whore. Her noble betrothed, understandably irked, walked up to Brother Carl and punched him in the face.

Now, you might expect that the assailant in this situation would get in trouble with the law. Actually, the opposite is true thanks to a doctrine handed down in 1942 by the Supreme Court called "fighting words." Briefly, there are some statements which are not protected by the 1st Amendment, words "which by their very utterance inflict injury," and "are no essential part of any exposition of ideas." These are "fighting words" and Brother Carl was guilty of using them. Not only were no charges filed against the young man, but the University had reason to label Brother Carl an instigator of violence and forever ban him from the UNT campus.

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