Much of the coverage of the UW-La Crosse confederate flag controversy has focused on the unwarranted overreaction to the presence of a truck on campus with the flag on its grille.
While the overreaction of Dean of Students Paula Knudson is somewhat surprising, newly released emails obtained by the La Crosse Tea Party and published by Media Trackers reveal nothing surprising from the university’s chancellor, Joe Gow.
As the situation percolated, Gow emailed Knudson the note you’d expect from a good, level-headed leader:
“I urge you to include a statement that we did not force the trucker to cover up or take down the confederate flag–rather, we asked the trucker to remove the flag…and the trucker kindly complied,” Gow wrote.
He went on:
We need to refute the notion that we have somehow “banned” display of the confederate flag, because we don’t have the legal authority to do so. And we wouldn’t want to stifle free expression, no matter how uncomfortable it might make us feel.
Gow’s admonition to err on the side of free speech and respect the freedom of expression came after finding out that several students claiming to be outraged waltzed into the construction site and tried to bait crews into a confrontation.
My suspicion is that Gow wasn’t impressed with that kind of behavior, and he doesn’t wilt at the mere sight of a flag (a flag that I, for one, think is just the symbol of a disgraced bunch of losers who joined the long list of fools who got their asses whooped by the United States of America, but I digress…)
This is the Joe Gow who I got to know as editor of The Racquet, the student paper of UW-L. I may be a somewhat lonely voice in the conservative blogosphere to salute his response to this tricky situation, but I nonetheless do.