Opinion: Seriously, how do we deal with crazy people?

Jared Bashaw

Contributing Writer


I sat in the Nigh University Center at my college to drink a coffee and do some homework. I have classes on Tuesday and Thursday, so I normally work on Mondays and don’t even come to school. However, I had an exam today that required my presence on campus, so after I finished my test I just thought that I’d stay there instead of driving home to do my coursework. I already had the day off and figured it would be more peaceful at school than at home, with fewer distractions so I could be more productive.

As I sat there and tried to read about bankruptcy law, I overheard people talking around me. I started to pick up some chatter about the man outside. I turned around, saw him, rolled my eyes, and took the picture above to send to my family group chat.

“My college is wildin’. Check this guy out.” — I sent and turned back to my homework. My family began to text me back, dad and sister cracking jokes:

All jokes, clearly none of us took him seriously. The people in the building were also just laughing at him mostly, some people saying “Should we go talk to him?” I was busy doing homework and didn’t care.

Until a woman walked in and walked straight to a table of her friends. The exchange went like:

“Hey! We saw him yell something at you, what is he doing?”

“That guy out there just called me a whore and told me I am going to Hell.”


“No idea. That felt awful. I think I’m gonna cry.”

Everyone in the room quit thinking it was funny. I was mad at him now. A couple of people got up and walked out there. I watched them standing a few yards away and shouting at him, he was shouting back. A couple of people get closer and talk to him, a couple more just walking by stop and watch from a distance. Lots of people are going in and out of the building now, talking about him, and giving their friends the rundown of what has happened so far.

“Yeah, he doesn’t actually have anything to say. He is like an NPC, just repeating the same dialogue over and over again, everyone is going to Hell except him.”, “He called her a whore and said all lesbians are going to hell.”, “What did Mormons ever do to him?”

A crowd began to form around him.

I went out to take a video of the yelling going on to send to my family. He was just spewing out offensive things to the crowd and fueling the flames. My family was texting saying it was sad, he was a jerk, people should stop giving him attention, etc. I just stood back and watched the exchange, wondering how to deal with it. I tried making fun of him, hoping everyone would just laugh at him and he would leave, or everyone around him would realize that he was stupid and lose interest in talking to him. I yelled from the crowd:

Excuse me, sir!? Do you know how to sound out words!? Your sign has an error! Did you mean to write that God hates Islam!? You wrote Isalm!” He looked down at his sign to check and people began to laugh at him, Oh shoot, it does, hahahaha

I continued, “I get it, those words are hard huh!? Maybe you should go home, fix your sign, and come back later when you can spell it right, then maybe we will listen to you!” People were laughing at him now, I thought for sure he would realize he was not gaining any ground here and leave, or at least that the people, having had their laugh at his expense and not seeing him as a threat, would just walk away. Nope. The man dug in.

“Yeah, I did that on purpose! It’s an eye-catcher, but the message is clear. Now y’all know that all Muslims are goin ta hell with Muhammed.”

Everyone around him gasped and yelling exploded from the crowd. People got more upset. Any attention given to this man he uses to garner more outrage and attention. More people hear what’s going on and come over to watch, I go back inside to do more homework, except now I am extra distracted. I hear someone say “Oh no, the Mormons are coming this way. Man I feel bad for them, they are always so nice. They just ask you about your day and talk to you. Someone get the Mormons away from that crazy guy.” I turned around to look.

Mormons taking pictures of the religious extremist. (JARED BASHAW/FOR THE VISTA)

I eventually decided I couldn’t resist abstaining from the drama any longer, and went out to watch the students battle with the man. There were now more students gathered around him, and a bunch of people protesting him, holding signs up to block his signs and stop him from speaking.

There’s a ton more people off to the right of the camera for context. (JARED BASHAW/FOR THE VISTA)

The whole situation was just so bizarre to me. This man showed up to campus in order for this exact thing to happen, right? He was clearly thriving off the negative attention. Why were we giving it to him? Why was I standing there watching? Well, because the other students were making a scene around him. They were just defending the people he was being hateful towards, but were they being successful in shaming him or changing his mind? This guy is such a narcissistic moron that he can’t admit that he misspelled a word on the sign that he proudly wears, and is not self-aware enough to realize that he did not play it off smoothly; everyone around him thinks he is an idiot.

I became more disturbed by the scene once he started getting at the Christians in the audience, but not because of what he was saying, because of their reactions. There were a couple that started trying to correct him on the bible: “The bible says to love! You are not supposed to judge people! Judge not lest ye be judged!” People were shouting these things to him and he was hitting them back with “Preach the word in-season and out of season! Let your light shine before men! All of you are lesbians and effeminate men! Scripture says you are going to Hell!” — Back and forth and back and forth. Eventually, he yelled out:

“Okay so all of you claiming to be Christians, what have you done for the people on this campus? Y’all are too afraid to stand by your beliefs like me!”

I cringed as a bunch of people from the crowd started yelling back at him that they were loving people and trying to make their cases to him. Why do you want this man to approve of your Christianity? Why are you trying to justify yourself to him? Why is it important to you that this man thinks you are going to Heaven?

I feel like if you have this crazy guy’s approval, then you must be doing something wrong. I think I would rather have that guy tell me that I am going to Hell than agree with him. I really do not understand why anyone gave him the time of day or tried to argue with him, or what any of it accomplished. Why would I, as a Christian, seek to justify myself to that man or want him to feel like we are on the same side?

As I left the scene I thought maybe if I ran into him again one day, I could show him the verse where it says not to be a “railer”:

And ask him what he thinks of that. Would he feel the need to justify himself to me? More likely, he doesn’t have the capacity for self-reflection. Anyway, it just got me thinking: How do we deal with crazy people?

Maybe if I had gone out and discussed his problems with him one-on-one, before there was a crowd to fire him up, then there could have been the possibility of a productive conversation. Maybe, if he had just stood out there for 30 minutes calling innocent pedestrians names and gotten no reaction, then he would eventually feel embarrassed and leave. Maybe if people just stood around him and let him talk, then they would realize that he is just an unhinged bigot, and it’s not worth the energy to be mad at him. I really don’t know. But what I do know is that the drama that played out was distracting from my homework, and probably just solidified that man’s belief that everyone is wrong except him.

All I am saying is that it is a worthwhile question to ask how productive outrage is going to be. Evaluate the situation. Sometimes, a man calls you a whore and you are right to yell at him and call him a jerk. Sometimes, a man is trying to get attention, and you fall into his trap and put a camera in front of him so that he can feel like he is doing the Lord’s work. Sometimes a man will look more stupid if you just let him talk and don’t interrupt him. Would we be more productive if we tried to just offer comfort and support to the people he is rude to? I know that kind words from friends can impact more than mean words from a crazy person.

I would like to end this blog with a verse from Christ, that I think all can learn from:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

If you act holier than the religious man, then God might perform a miracle and make him feel a little ashamed. Maybe next time he is on campus, we could show him how to be more like Christ.

This article was first posted March 11, 2024 on Medium.com.

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