In early April, the University of Michigan canceled a screening of the movie American Sniper after 300 protesters complained that the movie promoted negative stereotypes about Muslims. The students circulated a petition to have the screening of the movie stopped. The Google document circulated stated the following, according to Mlive.
“Chris Kyle was a racist who took a disturbing stance on murdering Iraqi civilians. Middle Eastern characters in the film are not lent an ounce of humanity and watching this movie is provocative and unsafe to MENA and Muslim students…”
The Center for Campus Involvement promptly canceled the showing, an after-hours event that was to be part of the UMix Late Night program. They issued a statement on their Facebook page apologizing.
“We deeply regret causing harm to members of our community, and appreciate the thoughtful feedback provided to us by students.”
A few days later, Eastern Michigan University erupted when 40 students got on stage and interrupted the first of two screenings. Four students were detained in the incident. None of the students were charged. A moderated dialogue will be held after the April 24 screening. The university issued the following statement.
“Eastern Michigan University is an open and diverse community, with many perspectives and viewpoints. The University respects the rights of its students to speak out on issues of importance to them, and encourages civil debate and discussion that promotes empathy and understanding.”
Muslim students at George Mason University, the largest university in Virginia, launched a campaign to ban the showing of American Sniper. The petition, as reported by the Daily Caller, explains the issues at hand.
“This is a film that perpetuates misleading and negative stereotypes about the Muslim community that many organizations on campus work hard to dispel,” the petition reads. “Not only this, but it romanticizes war and glorifies the idea of violence. As thinking humans, we should recognize the issues of morality presented when such a film is shown on campus and sponsored by the Office of Student Involvement whose mission is to ’embrace diversity.'”
There was no word yet on whether the university would cancel the screening of this movie. Asra Ahmad and Sara Mojarrad, the president and vice president of GMU’s Project Nur, one of the organizations calling for the ban of the movie, admitted they had never seen it.
At the University of Maryland, the May 6 screening was canceled after Muslim students raised concerns about the film’s content. Since the cancellation, some of the Muslim students received nasty emails, tweets and Facebook posts.
Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason had this to say about the decision of his alma mater to cancel the American Sniper screening.
— Boomer Esiason (@7BOOMERESIASON) April 23, 2015
So what do you think: do the rights of students outweigh the right to free speech?
[Photo Credit The Hollywood Reporter]