May 29, 2024

U of Wisconsin Says Fan in Obama Noose Costume Exercising ‘Free Speech’

After Saturday’s football game in which a fan of the University of Wisconsin-Madison showed up in an Obama costume with a noose tied around its neck, the school released a statement calling the racist outfit “repugnant,” but that it “was an exercise of the individual’s right to free speech.”

Someone at the game snapped a pic of the historically offensive and arguably violent get-up, that of our first black president with a noose around his neck, and posted it to Twitter where it immediately went viral. Later that day, UW officials released a statement giving its side of events, saying that guest services were called and the fan was asked “to remove the offensive components of the costume.” He apparently complied.

The University says that the man was exercising his right to free speech and it too exercised its rights by not asking him to leave, but by asking him to remove the “offensive parts of the costume” (meaning the noose?)

Here’s the statement in full:

During the first half of this evening’s Wisconsin football game against Nebraska, UW officials were made aware that an individual in the seating bowl had donned a highly insensitive and offensive costume. UW Athletics’ guest services staff were dispatched to the individual’s seating area where they asked him to remove the offensive components of the costume. He complied.

UW Athletics’ policy regarding admission into the stadium with a costume stipulates that no one may be wearing a mask upon entering the facility. Once inside, it is permissible to wear a mask. The costume, while repugnant AND COUNTER TO THE VALUES OF THE UNIVERSITY AND ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT, was an exercise of the individual’s right to free speech. The university also exercised its rights by asking the individual to remove the offensive parts of the costume.

UW-Madison is dedicated to promoting a campus environment where all people feel valued, safe and able to thrive. To that end, the university continues to encourage all of our community members to engage in discussion over vital issues in ways that promote greater understanding and respect for all persons.

We wonder what would have happened if he didn’t comply.

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