Ole Miss faculty members upset with McDaniel comment

Published 10:30 am Monday, September 26, 2016

Some University of Mississippi faculty members say they felt threatened by a recent Facebook post written by State Senator Chris McDaniel, though he says his words were misinterpreted.

After a large state flag made an appearance in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Sept. 17, McDaniel wrote a Facebook post voicing his opinion of what he perceived as an act of censorship after the flag and smaller flags confiscated that day.

“Reports from Oxford, MS this afternoon indicate that the university administration of Ole Miss was confiscating state flags and pro-Dixie signs,” McDaniel wrote. “If true, such actions are clearly unconstitutional and should not be condoned by any university which values tolerance and the marketplace of ideas. If forced censorship is the new policy of Ole Miss, then I would suggest its students do whatever necessary to vindicate their individual rights.”

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Jodi Skipper, assistant professor of anthropology and Southern studies, says what McDaniel wrote was “irresponsible and insensitive.”

“He made a comment without giving context to university policies of ‘items not permitted,’ and then created a space for rebuttals without a check system,” Skipper said in an email. “When I read responses like, ‘the manhood of Mississippi should form a mob’ and run the president of the university off campus, then I think that what Senator McDaniel has done is create a space for provoking mob violence in an already socially and politically sensitive environment.”

McDaniel clarified his message by saying that there was no reason to feel threatened.

“A university, first and foremost, is to act as a marketplace of ideas,” McDaniel said. “In no way am I advocating violence. If [the stadium and faculty] is advocating censorship, maybe it’s just as problematic as violence in this regard.

“Universities have to be a place where individuals are challenged. And if they’re in disagreement as to what a symbol means, the best way to handle it is with open discourse.”