A Republican State Senator in Wisconsin is calling for an investigation after a University of Wisconsin-Madison student released a video depicting the beheading of police officers wearing pig masks. Senator Steve Nass says the video “is not free speech” since it incites violence against police officers.
The video depicts police officers — shown in uniform and wearing pig masks — lynching a black student using a noose made from an American flag as “Justice” looks on approvingly. Those “pig” police officers are then chased into the woods by a group of other black students armed with a sledgehammer and a machete. The students return from the woods carrying the severed heads of the “pigs.”
After the release of the video — which is a thinly-veiled commercial for an exclusive line of sweatshirts and hoodies bearing messages calling for violence against police officers and the overthrowing of the American system — Senator Nass (shown) released a statement, saying in part, “This racist video has an intent to incite violence against police officers. This can’t be condoned or ignored. UW-Madison must act swiftly and decisively against anyone on their campus that promotes hateful actions of this type.” He also said that the video is “vile, anti-police,” and a “direct threat to the brave men and women that serve behind the badge.”
Nass has called for the Department of Justice and the UW-Madison Police Department (UWPD) to investigate the student who made the video. When asked about what action the university would take in regards to the video (which had also been posted to a university website), UW-Madison released a statement saying in part:
UW-Madison strives to provide a welcoming and inclusive campus environment, while allowing everyone to share ideas and political views in exercise of their free speech rights. However, the university strongly condemns the glorification of violence such as that contained in the promotion of a student-produced clothing line.
And in a move that makes it appear the university police are suffering from some bizarre form of Stockholm Syndrome, UWPD released a statement saying:
We do not agree with the message, but we appreciate and respect people’s opinions and their right to free speech. UWPD is not investigating the video as no crimes have been committed.
As for the video being a matter of free speech and not a crime, Nass disagrees. In an interview with the ABC affiliate, WISN 12 News, Nass asked the rhetorical question, “Is this free speech?” In answer to his own question, he added, “This is not free speech when you’re inciting violence. This is like yelling fire in a crowded theater.” He went on to say, “I think the school needs to do everything under their administrative rules. If it were up to me, Steve Nass, I’d kick them out of school, tell them goodbye. You’re wasting space for good students who want to obey the law and not incite violence.”
This is not the first time Nass has butted heads with the University of Wisconsin System. In fact, since the beginning of his political career, Nass has been a thorn in the flesh of the liberal establishment of UW. The 33-year veteran of the Wisconsin Air National Guard first entered the state legislature as a member of the State Assembly in 1991 and served there until he became a senator in 2015.
In 2006, Nass became chair of the Assembly’s Colleges and Universities Committee, which oversees the entire UW System. In that office, he was in a more powerful position to keep the liberals at UW in check. Early on as chair, he sought to cut funding for a UW-Madison center that studies social change that, he said, was “too far to the left.” He also worked to oust UW officials he said were doing poor jobs and helped cut the UW budget by about $120 million.
After his election to the State Senate, Nass again found himself in a position to push back against liberalism in the UW System as vice-chairman of the Senate University and Technical Colleges Committee.
In January of 2016, Nass publicly criticized UW System President Ray Cross for bending over backward to mollify a group of students demanding a more inclusive racial environment on University of Wisconsin campuses. Nass said, “President Cross needs to stop wasting time appeasing the political correctness crowd demanding safe-spaces, safe-words, universal apologies for hurt feelings, and speech/thought police,” adding, “President Cross needs to prioritize the educational interests of all students.”
As if to illustrate that Nass was correct in his assertion that Cross’ acquiescence to the demands of the United Council of University of Wisconsin Students “further damages the system’s already tattered credibility,” that student group fired back at Nass, saying in a statement, “This is our education … not the education of a white man who has made it clear that diversity and racial justice at UW System campuses are not on his short list of legislative priorities.”
The following month, Nass took University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper to task when she jumped the gun and publicly accused two female students of making “a disturbing racist post” after they posted a picture on Snapchat of themselves in their dorm room wearing facial masks. Because the compound of the facial masks was black, Kopper wrongly assumed that the girls they were doing “blackface.” Nass released a statement shining the light of logic on what Kopper could have known if she had asked questions or heard the girls’ side of the story before playing the “racist card.” He wrote:
The students shared a picture on social media showing them with the facial product on their faces and the material just happened to be black in color. The posting contained no racist statement and the students are simply standing in the picture.
His statement continued:
The racial over-reaction of Chancellor Beverly Kopper and other UW-Whitewater administrators without first checking the facts of the situation is a stark example of how political correctness has warped the mindset of highly educated university administrators. Frankly, these are the people responsible for educating our sons and daughters, but they seem incapable of applying reason or common sense.
Chancellor Kopper — whose annual salary is $238,000 (by comparison, the Vice President of the United States is paid $230,700 per year) — was forced to dial back her remarks and admit that the girls did nothing wrong and would not be punished. Of course, being branded as racists is itself punishment.
So it stands to reason that Nass would be the one to call for an investigation to determine whether Pickett’s video violates the law. Of course, in a world less tainted by the liberalism that seems to flourish in the UW System despite Nass’ best efforts, it would likely be a foregone conclusion that the video is not free speech, but a deliberate attempt to incite violent crime. One of those is protected; the other is punishable by law. If Nass gets his investigation (which is not likely), Pickett may have to face consequences. And even in the absence of a criminal charge, one consequence might include expulsion from UW-Madison. That would be an educational experience of a different kind for him. And it could serve him better than the “education” he is now receiving at UW-Madison.
Photo of state Senator Steve Nass: AP Images