November 3, 2016

"A noose displayed in this fashion has no place on campus. Together, the athletics department and the university's Office of Legal Affairs..."

"... are initiating a review of stadium policies with the goal of ensuring that symbols of this type are not displayed in our stadium again."

A letter from UW chancellor Rebecca Blank and UW athletic director Barry Alvarez, about the costume at Saturday night's football game. We talked about that the other day in my post titled, "Was that a 'racist' costume at the University of Wisconsin football game last night?" I approved of the way the incident was treated at the time: By respecting free speech and simply using more speech to reason with the costume-wearer and persuade him to voluntarily remove the noose from his neck.

The man was wearing a Hillary Clinton mask and another man, in a Trump mask, was pulling Hillary along. But the man in the Hillary mask also had an Obama mask on the back of his head, and a photo was taken from the back, so what you saw was Obama in a noose, an image people associated with the history of lynching black people in America. Seen from the front, with Hillary in the noose, the American history association might be with hangings in effigy that were standard political street protest in the Revolutionary War era.

This new letter, however, shows the campus authorities revealing that they want to make a rule that would exclude symbolic speech precisely because of the viewpoint. That is, they are flaunting their intent to violate freedom of speech. They're not even pretending that the rule would be viewpoint neutral. I could imagine a rule against rope premised on some theory that rope is some sort of safety or crowd-control problem. We still might smoke out the intent to suppress a particular political viewpoint. But here, the university seems to want credit for censoring the message they don't like.

Perhaps they don't care what a court might say about freedom of speech, and it's all only about expressing their own message that they are doing something about a problem they feel pressure to solve. But even if they don't mind losing in court or they're hoping that their rule is never challenged in court, they should want to express the message that freedom of speech matters, including speech that utilizes props — like ropes and flags.

(I say flags because of the most important Supreme Court case on the subject, which recognized the free-speech right to burn the U.S. flag to express an opinion. Here, read it yourself. It's written by the liberal hero William Brennan and joined by the conservative hero Antonin Scalia.)


MayBee said...

WHen did nooses become a symbol only of racist lynchings?

My whole life, I saw nooses as the symbol of a hanging. And people in this country were still being hanged to death in 1996.

Is it that we've moved away from that method of judicial death, that now people imagine it was always and only about lynching black people?

rhhardin said...

Would an eye splice be okay?

I eye-spliced a friend's airplane to the ground one day, in our tie down area.

And of course the bowline, and the slip knot, would be in question. You can't count on the slip knot, though.

My antenna is contructed with bowlines all the way.

MayBee said...

I want to know who saw that Halloween costume at a football game and honestly- honestly- got upset. What is that person like?

rhhardin said...

Ask knot what you can do for your country.

Owen said...

Prof. Althouse: My condolences. You sound genuinely distressed to find the enemy within the gates.

But, really? How could you expect otherwise? There may be some comfort here, however. Because this is not about free speech, really. It's about bureaucratic CYA, compelled by a fringe group of thugs who have mastered the media.

I think we need to think hard about that.


rhhardin said...

I always regarded flag burning as a who-cares situation, but I'm always amazed by things. Like Mencken was.

Achilles said...

College education is too expensive because they pay people to do this. Our corporate culture is infested with these racist people who sit around thinking about how everything is racist and they create jobs for themselves and get everyone worked up.

Most importantly they make sure we are all angry and divided. They never actually try to fix anything.

rhhardin said...

Flag burning amendments always lost by a single vote or so, as everybody agreed they were silly and the only question was who would get to vote for it and who wouldn't.

Rare good sense in the legislatures.

n.n said...

The scalpel and rainbow have developed as public symbols of institutional [class] diversity (e.g. racism, sexism, discrimination).

mccullough said...

Universities, public or private, are not places of free speech.

rhhardin said...

It is illegal to display a noose in a threatening manner in New York and Connecticut. - Wiki

Unknown said...

So: If someone shows up at the next game with Trump in a noose--will they be asked to leave? Will they be the subject of "We are better than this" ponderous speeches from the administration?

Of course not. Violent speech against Republicans, conservatives, and in particular Trump are always OK in liberal land. It says well of Ann that she is distressed by the free speech rights being destroyed here, but I'm pretty sure she is a minority of one-three at her law school.

Look at what they did to Instapundit. This is what leftism is fast tracking towards. 1984 as a manual, not a warning.


Ann Althouse said...

"Prof. Althouse: My condolences. You sound genuinely distressed to find the enemy within the gates."

Thanks. I'm more embarrassed.

Bob Ellison said...

"Dear Editor: To the Badger community,

What we saw Saturday night at Camp Randall was despicable and caused an immense amount of pain throughout our community."

The first line is just funny. I'm imagining a field of badgers carefully reading their emails.

The second line is sad. An immense amount of pain. Resign, Chancellor. You don't know how to write.

robother said...

Nooses on campus have invariably been hoaxes by SJW types, designed to create the illusion that the KKK is just around the corner. (Indeed, the Trump-mask pulling the Hillary-mask around by the noose may have been an addled attempt to invoke the same message.) UW admins may find themselves hoist by their own petard.

Roger Sweeny said...

It all makes sense if you think of the University as a church trying to save people's souls from sin--like racism, sexism, homophobia, or the idea that someone without a college degree should make as much money as someone with one. The devil is everywhere, constantly tempting people and constantly using what might seem harmless to keep people away from the one true faith. So you have to be ever vigilant. An unwitting tool of the devil is still doing the devil's work.

rhhardin said...

Only old people use square knots these days.

rhhardin said...

The monkey's fist knot ought to be questioned as well.

A not book ought to be issued.

David said...

Blank has a politically correct academic constituency. The athletic department has an african-american athletic recruit constituency.

Free speech is a nice little value, but secondary to these interests.

The ac academic world is in the running for the most conformist and repressive culture in the United States.

rhhardin said...

The clove hitch is offensive to Jews and Muslims.

David said...

" An immense amount of pain. Resign, Chancellor. You don't know how to write."

"Immense pain" would have been more concise. But "immense pain to our PR effort" would have been more accurate.

Oso Negro said...

Perhaps they administration is doing it because they have values utterly alien to those enshrined in the Constitution of the United States of America. The Founders valued freedom of speech and expression. The UW administrators value non-offensiveness. These values are utterly incompatible. Eventually we need to square this up. I am thinking it is going to require bloodshed.

Rick said...

Owen said...
It's about bureaucratic CYA, compelled by a fringe group of thugs who have mastered the media.

I think we need to think hard about that.

This vastly understates the issue. In the overwhelming majority of cases leadership isn't being compelled. Rather it is trying to accomplish the leftmost goals it can without running afoul of legal and public opinion constraints which would hinder future efforts. The conflict comes from slightly different beliefs about what is achievable. The activist side isn't concerned about reaction while the leadership advocates incrementalism.

The complicity if best seen by noting who leadership appoint. How do these activists come to have faculty and administrator positions in the first place? Are we to believe they were closeted? Ridiculous, these positions go the most obnoxious activists on campus. Moderates get to work at Starbucks.

Francisco D said...

The repressiveness of the modern academy saddens me. I am glad that I chose the private sector over academia.

What amuses me is the tremendous imagination of SJWs in finding racism, sexism, cultural appropriations and all the other bogeymen in almost every aspect of life. It is impressive in a weirdly creative sort of way. We would be better off if they just used their creativity to write books and plays rather than run people's lives.

Clayton Hennesey said...

In these environments the proper response has now become the apologetic, "College educated? Yes, I am, but things were much different back then".

Clayton Hennesey said...

As sure as the Sun rises there is a hidden Darwinism afoot here. Between the inflation in higher education and the unemployability of SJWs devoid of critical thinking skills more and more of the latter will be forced back into their parents' homes, ultimately bankrupting both generations and in the process severely depressing the ability of that gene pool to reproduce itself.

So we're likely looking at a self-correcting phenomenon at the counter-intuitive apex of its self-correction.

robother said...

"So we're likely looking at a self-correcting phenomenon at the counter-intuitive apex of its self-correction." Ahh, but now you see the strategic importance of open borders. Reproduction of the next generation of Democrat voters is just another of the jobs Americans won't do.

traditionalguy said...

Did they say Hang em High. But maybe they meant the Flag, not nice people a Soros paid mob wants punished for supporting Trump.

holdfast said...

The clove hitch is offensive to Jews and Muslims.

Sad that it took me a few seconds to catch that one.

Is the half-hitch a statement in favor of civil unions vs gay marriage?

Is a Bowline On a Bite offensive to the BDSM crowd?

If you take two monkey-fists (obviously racists) and make them into a bolo - is that Texan thing (tie) or a cop thing?

Does referring to a Prusik make one acid-tongued?

jaydub said...

Lynchings should be a valid concern in Wisconsin and Halloween noose sightings at the state's flagship university should always lead to self flagellation, hair shirts and sensitivity training. Sure, the racists will say that the 15 people who have been documented as having ever been lynched in Wisconsin included 12 whites and 2 indians as well as that one black man back in 1861, and maybe there hasn't been a documented lynching in Wisconsin of anyone of any race since 1891, but still - it could be that all those white supremists only lynch a black man every 155 years and there is another one due before the year is out. It's possible! Anyway, it's definitely worth the time of the Chancellor and the AD. I just wish they would pay the same kind of attention to Mickey Mouse costumes, too - I hate Mickey Mouse, unless that would be a hate crime, of course.

Sebastian said...

"That is, they are flaunting their intent to violate freedom of speech. They're not even pretending that the rule would be viewpoint neutral." This is news? Of course they flaunt. Of course they don't pretend. They haven't for a long time, and they don't need to. Anything goes to solidify prog rule. "Viewpoint discrimination" is their MO.

"But here, the university seems to want credit for censoring the message they don't like." Seems?

"But even if they don't mind losing in court or they're hoping that their rule is never challenged in court, they should want to express the message that freedom of speech matters, including speech that utilizes props — like ropes and flags." You are so sweet, and it is a pity that you will be retiring. But of course your progressive colleagues and administrators couldn't care less. What's this freedom you are talking about? What is it compared to the higher values that really matter?

MadisonMan said...

David at 10:54 brings up the important point: Recruitment of black athletes (primarily football/basketball) may take a hit because of the imagery.

The curtailing in free speech would not be sold as a way to protect those recruits, it would be sold as white football fans have to be more mindful of the hurt they can cause.

Hagar said...

Going down the thread a the link there is a short video clip and it looks like the person with the Democrat masks has a woman's hairdo and is enthusiastically flashing peace signs with both hands. Some more symbolism? Virile Republican Tarzan leading Democrat Janes around by a fake noose made from yarn?
What could that mean?

Hagar said...

.... feminine Democrat Janes ...

jimbino said...

That is, they are flaunting their intent to violate freedom of speech

You could say that both sides were flaunting their flouting.

Hagar said...

"Effeminate" a better antonym to virile?

Hagar said...

Actually, the intended symbolism of this prank seems to have been that those nasty Republicans opress Blacks and womenkind alike.

Fr. Gregory Jensen said...

Evidently, for the University of Wisconsin, some hate speech is acceptable and may even be financed by the University.

On the heels of Chancellor Blank's willingness to violate the First Amendment comes an invitation to Pussy Riot to speak on campus. Though as an Orthodox priest and as the chaplain for Orthodox students at UW, I find this to be deeply offensive, I also understand that Pussy Riot has a First Amendment right to speak.

However that the UW would support this group--and indeed advertise that they have protested in opposition to the Russian Orthodox Church--is unacceptable. Public funds are being used to support and provide a forum to an anti-Orthodox hate group who desecrated an Orthodox Church.

CWJ said...

Yeah, it's interesting that an incident that would be barely noticable in a crowd of tens of thousands absent third party promotion, and in turn quickly and civilly defused, has to be dug up and the outrage restoked in order for the administration to signal their social justice bono fides. It seems a variation on never let a crisis go to waste only if it isn't a crisis declare it to be one anyway. Must pick that scab lest it heal.

grimson said...

My local newspaper carried the Wisconsin State Journal" writeup of the original incident.

Although the headline and writeup refer to Obama in a noose, the picture was from the front and showed Hillary, I presume because showing a white woman with a noose around her neck is just fine. (It also showed "Bernie 2016" at the bottom of the sign around her neck.)

DanTheMan said...

"Chancellor, point the spot on this doll where the Bad Costume made you feel immense pain."

DanTheMan said...

>>Public funds are being used to support and provide a forum to an anti-Orthodox hate group who desecrated an Orthodox Church.

Father, that's because they are enlightened, and you are not. It's for your own benefit that they must save you from yourself.

James Pawlak said...

If, and only if, a college or university allows all the below statements be posted or worn on clothing on campus AND will punish students or employees who physically attack those who post or wear them, then any such school values free speech and academic freedom; Otherwise not so.






(And Later Perverted By Inferior Others)


(With Hollow Point Rounds)

MadisonMan said...

What would happen, do you suppose, if a white professional created a statue of Blank holding a noose around a scarecrow labeled 'Free Speech' and sat quietly with that statue on Bascom Hill?

Bay Area Guy said...

Charles Murray wrote a book, called "The Bell Curve."

I'm not a fan of IQ tests, but it persuasively (and tediously) showed that Asians have higher IQ's than whites, who have higher IQs than blacks, and that IQ scores do correlate with reasonable success in school, and work and life.

I don't buy the argument. But modern day colleges would BAN this book, and prosecute anyone making said argument.

That's the modern day Left for you.

Jupiter said...

"But here, the university seems to want credit for censoring the message they don't like."

Well, no. A corporation is a person, I suppose, and an employer is responsible for the actions of his employees. But at some point a person is responsible for the words that come out of his mouth. "UW chancellor Rebecca Blank and UW athletic director Barry Alvarez" are the two ill-conceived and poorly educated parasites who composed this screed, and the oppobrium rightly belongs to them. They are a poor use of carbon. May their lives be short and their progeny few.

rcocean said...

Again, just ban nooses of any kind. Even the word.

Problem solved. And white liberals a few black folks can rest easy.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Well, Father, I'm sure that it doesn't reflect ill upon your establishment here to note that, in Russia, the ROC is in cahoots with the government there, in a discreditable fashion, for reasons of its own.

I'm trying to imagine what a few little girls could do in a church in America that would get them dumped in the worst jail in America (the best jail in Russia is worse than the worst jail in America) until such time as someone felt like letting them out. We couldn't even do that to Bill Ayers.

Fr. Gregory Jensen said...

Dan the Man and Bad Lieutenant, thank you both for the kind words.

Like many Orthodox Christians (I won't speak for those outside the Orthodox Church) I think the Russian government and the Church of Russian over reacted to Pussy Riot. I agree with BL that the ROC is too closely identified with Putin.

At the same, Pussy Riot wasn't simply pointing out that Church and State are too close in Russia. They desecrated Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow. The original Cathedral was destroyed by the Communist. Pussy Riot "performance" was in the new Cathedral. The Church is a reminder of the millions of Orthodox Christians and other murdered by Communism. This was, is, offensive to many Orthodox Christians in Russia and around the world. They choose a place that is sacred to the Orthodox Church not only because it is a cathedral but because it is a memorial to millions of martyrs. And frankly, I find it impossible to believe that UW's Center for Russia, East Europe, & Central Asia doesn't know this. More likely they just don't care.

What concerns me more though is that now twice within one week UW has shown a marked hostility to fundamental human rights. UW has signaled its willingness to limit free speech by regulation and to support those who made a thuggish assault on the freedom of religion.

Pussy Riot didn't civilly engage the Church on her position on homosexuality. They desecrated a church. And now UW is giving them a forum as if they were something other than thugs.

At least since I was an undergraduate, I've gone to church with Christians who suffered for the Gospel under fascism and communism. The idea that UW represents any credible, long-term threat to me or my community is laughable.

And yes, I understand why people are upset about the noose and why people at UW are swooning over Pussy Riot.

However, it is worrisome to me, as a citizen, that there is seemingly no willingness to even entertain the idea that the noose was not a racist act but a legitimate form of political protest. Likewise, Pussy Riot is invited to campus with seemingly no awareness that their protests were an assault (however feckless) on the conscience of the Orthodox Church and on religious liberty more generally.

Come UW, you're better than this! At least I hope you are.

mikee said...

The power of a protest wherein someone was hung in effigy is the premise that the effigy could be readily replaced with the actual malefactor, should that person's behavior not improve right quickly. That a 1st Amendment right exists to make such protests has never been contested successfully, especially against political figures, because there is obviously no immediate threat of actual violence against the malefactor being protested via effiginous dangling.

However, a burning cross placed on the front lawn of an African American's house in the US southern states is indeed cause, among any reasonable persons aware of the history of the KKK, to recognize an immediate deadly threat to the people in the house. And they are justified in taking self defense measures appropriate to that threat, as has been decided in law and in court precedent.

These two examples show the difference between allowing intent of speech to be decided by the speaker (or at least "reasonable persons) of potentially offensive language, actions, art, etc., and allowing intent to be defined by the recipient of the speech, who may indeed take apparent offense for self advantage rather than for any real reason.

The heckler's veto must be opposed, and denied, and refuted. Otherwise there can be no discourse between those holding opposing ideas, only fights for power over each other.