A few weeks ago, as I was walking across the campus of UNC-Wilmington, I heard an old familiar sound. A rap song was blaring from the general vicinity of the university amphitheater. I heard the n-word broadcast loudly (from over 100 yards away) so I decided to walk over to investigate the source of the racial epithet.
I must confess that I had an ulterior motive for seeking the source of the offensive epithet. The last time I heard an offensive word coming from the amphitheater it was an “Obama 2008” group that was playing profanity-laced rap music. I was hoping they were back so I could ask them to change their music to something other than the tired old songs about bitches, niggas, and hos. Like a crack addict voting for Obama I was hoping for a little change. And, of course, I was hoping for another chance to rib them in the wake of the Reverend Wright scandal.
Regrettably, when I got there, I saw that the source of the music was a university group called “ACE” that sponsors various events on campus – sometimes comedians, sometimes musical artists. So I turned around and walked to the university union to get a cup of coffee. That’s when I ran into Craig (not real name) who is president of the Alpha Epsilon Sigma fraternity (also not real name and, hereafter, referred to as the As).
Craig and I spend a few minutes talking about the latest free speech scandal at UNCW. It all began when the As were playing another fraternity called the Alpha Kappas (also not real name and, hereafter, referred to as the AKs) in an intramural football game. Because the As and AKs were both founded in the South around the time of the Civil War, they occasionally try to “out-Southern” one another. That was the case during their intramural match and that is when the trouble began.
When the As decided to parade around the football field with a banner – an activity taking only a couple of minutes – they gave little thought to the small Confederate Flag that was displayed along with their fraternity crest and fraternity name. Again, lest there be any confusion, the kids were not carrying a Confederate Flag – an activity, which is clearly protected by the First Amendment. They were carrying a large banner a small part of which was covered by a representation of the Confederate Flag.