Fan wears Barack Obama mask with a noose at Nebraska-Wisconsin game

Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst is greeted by fans after Wisconsin beat Nebraska 23-17. (AP)
Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst is greeted by fans after Wisconsin beat Nebraska 23-17. (AP)

When fans attend college football games, they expect to be joined by other supporters passionately cheering with face paint, signs and funny costumes.

They don’t expect to see things like this:

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One attendee of the Nebraska-Wisconsin game Saturday decided to don a mask of President Barack Obama and wore a noose around their neck. The fan may have been able enter the game with the mask off, and then went into full costume while in the stadium, which followed Wisconsin Athletics’ admission policy to get into the venue.

The university released a statement that it was made aware of an individual wearing a “highly insensitive and offensive costume.” Guest services staff was then sent to the fan and asked them to remove the costume. The person complied with that request.

While Wisconsin made it clear with big bold letters that it found the costume “repugnant AND COUNTER TO THE VALUES OF THE UNIVERSITY AND ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT,” it did recognize that it was an exercise of free speech. The university ended the statement saying it promoted a safe campus environment where everyone feels valued, and encouraged the community to “engage in discussion over vital issues in ways that promote greater understanding and respect for all people.”

While it is free speech, wearing a costume that depicts a sitting president with a noose around his neck is pretty tasteless. Add in the racial element of the president being black and all the implications with that, and you have a costume idea that will make a lot of people nervous and angry.

Maybe that individual will heed Wisconsin’s statement and try to produce a productive political discussion that is not demeaning next time.

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