Obama-Lynching Costume at UW Madison Protected by First Amendment?

Obama-Lynching Costume at UW Madison Protected by First Amendment?
Susan Dutca-Lovell

Two fans at UW Madison's weekend football game wore costumes depicting Donald Trump lynching President Obama. The school, though stating the costume was "repugnant" and "insensitive," backed the demonstration as free speech, protected under the First Amendment. Critics are now "deeply concerned" with the lack of action.

A photo of the costume went viral on social media and police asked the fans to "remove the offensive component of the costume." The man in the prison-striped effigy of Obama also wore a sandwich board with the message "What difference does it make now, Hillary?" and had a large cutout of Hillary Clinton's face masking his identity. The individuals were not forced to leave the stadium once they had complied with the orders, which outraged some who believe that "officials should have done more."

More than 60 people expressed their disapproval in a letter signed by the "University of Wisconsin-Madison Black and African-American Alumni." In it, they claimed to honor free speech as a "fundamental entitlement in our country." However, the "official response" to the incident was "in error," as the costume "incited race-based hatred by invoking lynching symbols, historically understood as a racist hate crime."

In your opinion, do you think the university should have taken another course of action? Should they have considered the costume hate speech with the potential of inciting a riot? Why or why not? Start a conversation with your thoughtful comments below.

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