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Ex Post Facto: Free speech, 'The West Wing' in Athens

If week five in Athens had a theme, it would be discourse. We saw discourse about race relations in America, abortion, politics and perhaps at the root of it all, free speech.

Here are the news narratives from the Athens area you might’ve missed this past week:

The Left Wing

Late last week, The West Wing actor Richard Schiff (who played the White House Communications Director) spoke in Athens on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency.

Speaking to a crowd of about 50 people at Schoonover Center, Schiff lambasted Trump.

“This man is just not qualified and in fact truly, truly dangerous,” Schiff said of Trump. “It’s not a question of the lesser of two evils, it’s evil or not evil. Those are your choices.”

The following day, John Lithgow (who played Donald in Interstellar and Lord Farquaad in the Shrek series) expressed similar sentiments while speaking to a smaller crowd at Clinton’s Athens campaign office.

Reactions to the death of Tyre King

On Monday the Ohio University Police Department responded to reports of graffiti carrying Tyre King’s name painted throughout OU’s campus.

Whoever painted “Justice 4 Tyre King” on the Civil War monument on College Green and at Lindley Hall, Seigfred Hall, Ellis Hall, Bentley Hall and Alden Library has not publicly taken credit for it.

Students are seemingly split about the rightness or wrongness of the incident, if social media is any indication.

Two days later activists set up a memorial to Tyre King on the steps of the Athens County Courthouse.

Local officials initially instructed the activists to move the memorial because, in the case of a fire, it would create a hazard for those trying to escape. Noted local activist and former OU student Ryant Taylor responded, “It’s bulls--t. This is a public space.”

The memorial carried on throughout the day.

On the wall again

Someone or some group of people early this week painted controversial words and images over a safari-themed mural created by local children.

The unidentified graffitier(s) painted a URL that leads to to a body count of civilians killed in the Iraq War, a stick figure hanging from a tree and the words “build a wall.”

After pictures of the graffiti hit social media, the wall was covered in anti-racism rhetoric.

If you think this sounds familiar, you’re right. Last year members of the Greek community painted “build the wall” in the same spot, sparking public outrage.

Baton v. Sign

During an anti-abortion demonstration late last week, a masked individual smashed several anti-abortion signs with what appeared to be a baton, much to the chagrin (but not surprise) of the event’s organizers.

"I assumed at some point in the year we’d have something like this," Jacob Hoback, president of Bobcats for Life told The Post. "When we show the graphic images, the pro aborts (sic) are not able to hold a rational and resort to confrontation."

See a video of the encounter below:

Each sign cost $75, Mark Harrington, director of Columbus-based Created Equal, the group that provided the signs, said.


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