At the @UWBadgers game and there is a man with a mask of President Obama and a noose. This is racism, why was this allowed into the stadium? pic.twitter.com/zKEqhdDYny— 😏 (@woahohkatie) October 29, 2016
And I see the UW twitter feed immediately responded: "Thanks for letting us know— Can you tell us what section you took this photo in?" and "We don't support offensive image of a noose, but this is a form of free speech. Guest Services asked them to remove & they did."
And the UW quickly put out this statement:
It was the night of Freakfest, Madison's Halloween revelry downtown, and the early evening football game — a few blocks away from the Freakfest location — was part of a huge social occasion yesterday. (Meade and I holed up inside, watched the game on TV, and went to bed early as the sound of screaming revelers moved farther away from the stadium area to State Street.) So there were some costumes at the game, and as you can see from the statement, the rules were that you could wear a mask once you got inside the stadium.
I don't like depictions of lynching political figures. Here's an old post of mine expressing dismay over a sign picturing the lynching of Scott Walker. And later, I linked back to that post, saying "I said imagine how Democrats would react if Tea Partiers had... depict[ed] a Democratic Party politician as Hitler or with his head in a noose."
And I agree that there is a special problem with showing a black person with his head in a noose, given the history of lynching in America.
But take a closer look at that tweeted picture. See the hand with the peace sign? The person is facing away from the camera. The Obama mask is on the back of the head. We see the shape of a larger mask in front. And if you look closely at the pink sign, the words are Hillary Clinton's: "What difference at this point does it make?" I assume the mask on the front-side of the head depicts Hillary Clinton. And yes, poking around, I see this view of the front of the person. It is a big Hillary Clinton face, and there's another person with a big Trump mask and he's holding the other end of the rope. The rope-holding Trump is walking the noosed Hillary in the manner of Pozzo leading Lucky in Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot":
I have no idea if the costumed football fans intended to allude to the Nobelist's great play in which no one gets lynched: 2 characters — Lucky and Pozzo — are connected by a noose that works as a leash, and the other 2 characters — Vladimir and Estragon — consider hanging themselves:
ESTRAGON: What about hanging ourselves?But I think the political theater in the football stadium was intended to express Hillary's criminality and/or Trump's use of the idea that Hillary is a criminal. It could simply be that Hillary and Trump are bound together in a horrible drama that's scaring us, Halloween style.
VLADIMIR: Hmm. It'd give us an erection.
ESTRAGON: (highly excited). An erection!
VLADIMIR: With all that follows. Where it falls mandrakes grow. That's why they shriek when you pull them up. Did you not know that?
ESTRAGON: Let's hang ourselves immediately!
What, then, of the Obama mask on the back of the head? What a distraction! What does a mask on the back of the head mean? I see that a mask worn on the back of the head may be a device to ward off predators while your back is turned:
Arguing that [the Bengal tiger] only attacks people from behind, workers in the mangrove forests started wearing face masks on the backs of their heads. Thus far the trick appears to have worked.Mandrakes, mangroves... don't think too hard. It's only Halloween. What is the meaning of the costumes? If you have a nonracist message, take the trouble to edit out the part that will allow viewers to say "That's racist" or they'll never hear whatever it is you are trying to say.
Or do you want to talk about freedom of speech law? I'll take the position that UW handled it pretty well. They conveyed the importance of free-speech values and stressed that they merely asked the person to remove the mask. They reasoned with him and he accepted their point of view — don't make other people feel afraid or disrespected — and he removed "the offensive parts of the costume." That is, he accepted the argument that parts of the costume were offensive and that it would be better not to offend. He bought what the university was selling in the marketplace of ideas. Or that's my working theory until somebody gives me reason to think he was coerced.
IN THE COMMENTS: 2 excellent corrections:
Not all lynching was racial. While the Democrats in the South did concentrate on lynching Black people during the Jim Crow era, in the Old West and historically, it was mainly White people who were lynched.Grimson said:
AA: 2 characters — Lucky and Pozzo — are connected by a noose that works as a leashThanks for both of those. Just to rebalance a little, I'll say: 1. In the mind of present-day Americans, lynching is most likely to be associated with the history of racial injustices, and 2. In the photograph of the "Godot" production I've used and in other productions I've seen pictures of, the rope was tied in the classic "hangman's noose" knot. But I can see, with further research, that the rope isn't always tied that way in productions of "Godot" and also see that in real life, nooses don't always have the "hangman's noose" knot and that a rope with a knot put around a man's neck is perhaps fairly called a noose even when the text omits that explicit characterization of the rope.
The text mentions only a rope, not a noose, so clearly these are not a couple of Beckett devotees.
Beckett: Enter Pozzo and Lucky. Pozzo drives Lucky by means of a rope passed round his neck. . .