In response to calls to eliminate the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign mascot, “Chief Illiniwek,” a group of Illinois students started a Facebook group entitled “If They Get Rid of the Chief I’m Becoming a Racist.” Comments posted on the group’s “wall” included criticism of one of the mascot’s most vocal opponents, including the statement, “apparently the leader of this movement is of Sioux descent … the Sioux are the ones that killed off the Illini indians [sic], so she’s just trying to finish what her ancestors started. I say we throw a tomohawk [sic] into her face.” A group of the school’s American Indian Studies Program faculty publicly asked the university to discipline the student, prompting the Illinois Chancellor Richard Herman to send an e-mail to the university community stating “The University will take all legal and disciplinary actions available in response to the threatening messages.” FIRE wrote to Chancellor Herman urging the university to cease its investigation, as the student was engaging in constitutionally protected expression, although the university never responded.
February 20, 2007
The natives are getting restless in Champaign, Ill., as last week brought the death of Chief Illiniwek, the University of Illinois’ 81-year-old Indian mascot, as well as the potential expulsion of a university student for trying to save the aging warrior. Ever since 1926, Chief Illiniwek, who is normally portrayed by a university student, was known for rallying crowds and entertaining halftime audiences with traditional tribal dances. The Chief’s existence, though, came under fire after a number of Native American groups argued that mascot was offensive, racist and no longer a suitable representation of the university. This controversy is not […]» Read More
Is Nothing Sacred? Comedy Central Joins Many Universities in Caving to Threats of Violence for Depictions of Mohammed
April 23, 2010
Comedy Central’s cartoon hit South Park is famous for its shocking and offensive humor, targeted at subjects ranging from Queen Elizabeth to Scientology. The show’s renowned satire takes an unapologetic attitude towards goring sacred cows, and fans have come to regard South Park‘s principled stance on free speech as sacred in and of itself. This week, however, Comedy Central created headlines around the world by censoring a portion of a South Park episode. The episode continued last week’s plotline depicting Mohammed in a bear suit, which is considered blasphemous by some followers of Islam. Comedy Central’s usually laissez-faire approach to […]» Read More