Yesterday I was bombarded by messages from readers sending me the text from an email UND President Robert Kelley had sent to the campus. It was regarding a sorority that had put up a banner to celebrate the UND hockey team competing in the NCAA Frozen Four and referencing the Fighting Sioux logo/nickname controversy.
President Kelley says he respects 1st amendment rights. At least until someone gets offended, I guess:
Statement from UND President Robert Kelley
I was disappointed to learn Monday that Gamma Phi Beta sorority had displayed on its sorority house a banner that read “You can take away our mascot but you can’t take away our pride. Mens 2014 NCAA Frozen Four.” The banner and the timing of the banner — at the beginning of Time Out week, sponsored by the UND Indian Studies Association — demonstrated a lack of sensitivity. I do appreciate that the banner was quickly removed. UND has a long-standing respect for the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, which we teach in many of our academic programs. Along with that, we have a critical responsibility to promote respect and civility within our campus community. We teach and model respect for others. It is imperative that, through our actions, we demonstrate respect for all.
The idea that it’s somehow insensitive to acknowledge what was a bitter fight over the Sioux logo/nickname is a bit ridiculous. Sure, some people found the logo and nickname to be offensive, but manny others did not. Including many actual Sioux Indians who, I would remind citizens, were still suing the NCAA to keep the nickname after the university had retired it. The Spirit Lake Sioux fought long and hard for the nickname. Several years ago, when the issue was voted on by members of that tribe, they were overwhelmingly in favor of the nickname with more than 60 percent voting for it.
If there were universal condemnation of the logo/nickname among Native Americans generally, and Sioux people specifically, it might be fair to call the logo/nickname offensive. But given that not even all Native Americans find it offensive, given that most approve of it at least on the Spirit Lake reservation, I think it’s fair to say that they are merely controversial.
And since when was banning controversial speech in keeping with the 1st amendment?
As you can see in the image above, the banner doesn’t even use the term “Sioux” or show the logo. Rather, it acknowledges the past logo controversy, and it was hardly timed for Time Out week, but rather timed for the occasion of the hockey team formerly known as the Sioux competing in a major national tournament.
Now, according to reports, the sorority will get sensitivity training.
Because that’s just how things work in America. The perpetually aggrieved have a heckler’s veto. All they need to do to silence those with whom they disagree is cause a stink.
Meanwhile, North Dakota’s Lt. Governor isn’t shy about plastering the Sioux logo all over his Twitter account. The only place the Fighting Sioux logo/nickname are offensive is in the minds of a small number of noisy activists, and the small minds of university/NCAA bureaucrats.
— Drew Wrigley (@DrewWrigley) March 30, 2013