Debate Magazine

Obama Burned in Effigy - Prank Or Legitimate Method of Protest?

Posted on the 23 November 2011 by Mikeb302000
Is this a legitimate expression of opinion, or does it cross the line of symbolic advocating harm or violence to a real, living person who is a public figure?  I don't know how much this translates as simple expression of dissatisfaction, versus other interpretations of the action.
I don't know what the answer is, but I'd be open to hear their explanation before getting too upset.  I'd also be curious to know what the effigy itself looked like, and if it was a reasonable representational likeness, or something more along the lines of some of the racist images on tea party signs and emails that have come from the right here in the U.S.
But mostly, I remember all of the UK anti-Bush images, particularly the ones that morphed him into looking like a chimpanzee.  I'm inclined to put this in the category of bad taste and unpleasantness, but short of hate speech, without a more clear explanation being expressed by those who did the burning. Given our shameful history of lynching blacks in this country in the 19th and 20th centuries, I would be much more concerned and offended had Obama been hanged in effigy.

Obama effigy burned by Conservative UK students

'Burning an effigy of anyone is offensive, let alone the first black President of the United States. The overtones are deeply unpleasant,' lawmaker says updated 1 hour 56 minutes ago An effigy of Barack Obama was burned by members of a Conservative party college student association in Scotland, according to reports Wednesday. BBC News reported that the incident took place on a beach in St. Andrews on Friday evening.
Matthew Marshall, president of the St. Andrews Conservative Association, told the station that he was sorry that the incident had happened. It is unclear exactly who was responsible.
"President Obama is an important ally to the British government. It was a stupid thing to do and we apologize for any offense caused," he told the BBC.
James Mills, former chairman of the university's Labour party student society, told the station that the burning was "disgraceful."
Mills' effigy has been burned in the past along with those of former South African President Nelson Mandela and former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
"I can't imagine any other student activists of a major political party would behave in this manner," Mills told the BBC.
'Obscene act' "It's disgusting and I hope the Conservative Party and the prime minister completely come out and condemn this obscene act," he added. "The last thing a truly modern party should be doing is burning an effigy of anyone let alone the first black president of the USA, one of our closest allies."
The BBC quoted an unnamed person who was present at the burning who said that members of the associated were "surprised" that the Obama effigy had been put on the bonfire.
St. Andrews University, which was founded in 1413 and says it is the third oldest in the English-speaking world, told the BBC that university officials had asked to speak to Marshall about the "very understandable concerns."
John Park, a Scottish Labour party lawmaker, whose constituency includes the university, told the U.K.'s Press Association that the burning was "gravely offensive and way beyond a student prank."
"Thousands of young people yearn for the chance to study at such a prestigious institution, and they will be amazed to see that those who have been given that opportunity behave like this," he added.
"Burning an effigy of anyone is offensive, let alone the first black President of the United States. The overtones are deeply unpleasant," he said.

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