Editorial | Anti-Chiefs' fantasy world

Editorial | Anti-Chiefs' fantasy world

The anti-Chief faction on the University of Illinois faculty is continuing its offensive on free speech.

The U.S. Supreme Court last week heard oral arguments in a free speech case involving the state of Minnesota's authority to regulate the political messages — either subtle or strident — that people wear when they're at polling places on Election Day.

The justices' comments indicated that the state's argument that it can regulate what people wear to a polling place is a steep hill to climb. The issue comes down to what the state wants to ban and why, the possibility of inconsistent enforcement that establishes one set of rules for some people and another set for others.

The justices peppered lawyers on both sides with hypotheticals about what would and would not be permitted. The justices were having such fun tormenting the lawyers with their question that one news account described the opposing barristers as akin to "fish in a barrel."

"How about a shirt with a rainbow flag? Would that be permitted?" Justice Samuel Alito asked.

"A shirt with a rainbow flag. No, it would — yes, it would be — it would be permitted unless there was — unless there was an issue on the ballot that — that related somehow to — gay rights," said lawyer Daniel Rogan, who was defending the Minnesota law.

There were other inquiries about fashion and whether it would be OK — like T-shirts bearing the words "#MeToo," "Make America Great Again," "Resist" or wearing all white to express solidarity with suffragists.

Justices John Roberts' and Stephen Breyer's questions suggested that they were OK with laws that narrowly restrict polling place speech because, as Justice Roberts said, "maybe, just before you cast your vote, you should be able to have a time for some quiet reflection."

Roberts' point is well taken, although it's unclear how a voter in one polling booth would distract and disturb a voter in another polling booth.

Whatever the court's decision on the Minnesota law, which is aimed at eliminating politicking inside polling places, it will narrowly define and carefully limit government's authority to decide what kinds of messages people can wear on their clothing and where it might have authority to do so.

In that context — government's very limited right, assuming it has any authority at all, to regulate political fashion — consider the absurd resolution a group of anti-Chiefs is scheduled to present this week to the University of Illinois faculty senate.

The resolution asks the UI to ban the "appearance of a person dressed in an identical costume to that of Chief Illiniwek, who walks out during the Chief's theme music and mimics many of the Chief's movements."

It characterizes that activity as a "protest" banned under Assembly Hall rules and asserts that it should be off limits.

Two possibilities come to mind:

— Either these people are simply ineducable on the legal question of the UI's authority to limit what people say and wear at sporting events.

— Or they actually do know better but delight in twisting the tales of the cowardly administrators to whom they present their preposterous demands.

Further, the idea of banning protest at a UI sports event is laughable.

The entire competition is built on conflict and protest. Coaches protest by baiting officials over calls. Fans insult referees, opposing players and sometimes the home team. Referees respond to coaches' complaints with the counter-protest action of issuing technical fouls.

What the anti-Chief professors say they want represents a classic case of unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination. Explanation, however, is futile — they'll keep advocating the impossible until others stop paying attention to their ill-advised bleatings.

Nonetheless, free speech that is attacked is free speech that must be defended. So it bears repeating — it would be no more appropriate for pro-Chief fans, aspiring authoritarians that they are, to try to silence the anti-Chiefs than it is for the anti-Chiefs to continue their relentless campaign to force the pro-Chiefs to shut up.

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Automan wrote on March 05, 2018 at 8:03 am
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Exactly what the Salaita scandal was about. 

rsp wrote on March 05, 2018 at 9:03 am

Perhaps the editors could use a referral to a good chiropractor. I mean, bending over that far backwards for that justification must hurt. So they have just defended allowing the anti-chief crowd to protest inside the building. I don't think that was the intent but if everyone else can protest inside.

So it bears repeating — it would be no more appropriate for pro-Chief fans, aspiring authoritarians that they are, to try to silence the anti-Chiefs than it is for the anti-Chiefs to continue their relentless campaign to force the pro-Chiefs to shut up

Illiniwek222 wrote on March 05, 2018 at 11:03 am

First of all, I don't consider the appearance of Chief Illiniwek at a sporting event to be a protest.

A protest would be when, after a huge call to action from anti-Chiefers including Rosenstein and the student body president who received votes from less than 6% of the students, about 40 people show up with anti-Chief signs at a basketball game..

A disruptive protest would be when anti-Chiefers ruin the Homecoming parade for hundreds of onlookers, including children and alumni.

A crime would be when someone barges into a public restroom and starts filming the occupants. Not surprising that someone who exhibits this behavior and doesn't consider it a crime, would not know what constitutes a protest.


rsp wrote on March 05, 2018 at 3:03 pm

First of all, I don't consider the appearance of Chief Illiniwek at a sporting event to be a protest.

After all this time you don't realize the Chief was retired? He's gone. Over. Dead. It's like I was telling my son just last week. It's like your grandpa died, and someone dressed up in clothes that look like your grandpa's clothes. That doesn't make it your grandpa. Until the Chief was gone, nobody wanted to dress up in clothes like his to protest that he was gone, and to prove to the rest of us that they are in charge of a college mascot, even if they aren't in college any more. That guy that dresses up at the stadium isn't Chief Illiniwek. He's a protester.

Another protest would be passing out posters inside the stadium for the pro-chief side to use in their organized protest. Notice the words "pro" and posters in that sentence. You don't have "anti-" and "pro-" and not have both sides protesting. People may have varying positions but when both sides refuse to talk, refuse to listen, and refuse to even see, you have protests.

Illiniwek222 wrote on March 05, 2018 at 4:03 pm

Compromise has been suggested. The anti-Chiefers have made it clear it's their way or the highway. You want to talk compromise to Kaufman, Rosenstein, Sollie et al, be my guest.

What, exactly, is your suggested compromise?

CallSaul wrote on March 11, 2018 at 4:03 pm


Why don't you explain, given the common knowledge that moldy old racist 'chief' ex mascot is not the mascot anymore and won't ever be the school's mascot again, just what sort of 'compromise' it is that 'has been suggeted'...?

JohnRalphio wrote on March 11, 2018 at 2:03 pm

Ugh, the News-Gazette and the Chief should just get a room and bone, already.

cjw61822@hotmail.com wrote on March 11, 2018 at 6:03 pm

Which is why this issue will not die.


There is no compromise possible by the Anti Chief folks.

Dread Pirate DNT wrote on March 11, 2018 at 9:03 pm
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Never compromise with racism.

cjw61822@hotmail.com wrote on March 11, 2018 at 9:03 pm

Admit it .


You want the 3 in 1 gone.  You think that music is racist even though  it was composed BEFORE the Chief danced.


You guys are gonna have a heart attack  when  the Chicago NHL team sponsors an arena down here.........

cjw61822@hotmail.com wrote on March 11, 2018 at 9:03 pm