Sound Off: ‘American Sniper’ & Campus Threats to Free Speech



According to an Associated Press story, the University of Michigan’s Center for Campus Involvement has canceled an upcoming screening of Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper after sophomore Lamees Mekkaoui started a petition against the screening. Mekkaoui says she identifies as Arab and Middle Eastern and believes the film “condones a lot of anti-Middle Eastern and North African propaganda.”

The local chapter of conservative campus group Young Americans for Freedom has already started a petition demanding that the school reverse the decision, but there’s yet to be a parallel free-speech protest from self-identified liberal groups. Haven’t generations of Americans sent their children to colleges and universities so they can be exposed to a wide range of ideas? Sure, there are a few echo-chamber campuses like (liberal) Bennington  and (religious) Liberty University where controversial ideas are frowned upon, but most schools tout themselves as havens from suppression of controversial ideas.

American Sniper is a complex movie that’s open to different interpretations. Chris Kyle was a complicated guy and both Bradley Cooper’s portrayal and Clint Eastwood’s direction paint a portrait of him that’s far more nuanced than the one promoted by promoters (and detractors) of this movie. Movies don’t gross over $340 million without striking a deep chord with people from all walks of life.

There’s obviously a difference between hate speech and provocative ideas that make some people uncomfortable. American Sniper celebrates a legendary Navy SEAL but still asks a lot of questions about wars and the people we ask to fight them. In an era when the overwhelming majority of Americans have no personal connections to the military, college campuses are full of kids who might learn something from Clint and Bradley.

  • guest

    American college students are very sensitive to the feeling of others and go out of their way to not offend anyone, except right wingers, gun nuts and Christians.

    • John

      These students are brain washed and have NO idea what it took to make this country the greatest country in the world. They take to much for granted.

      • Guest

        The Iraq War had absolutely NOTHING to do, with making “this Country the greatest in the world”.
        The Iraq War was a total BS War, 100% unnecessary and senseless.

      • Fred

        Tell that the the dead/slaughterd Iraq nationals Saddam killed for pleasure- BTW you should support your troops.

      • fryaduck

        But the USA isn’t the “greatest country in the world” and never will be.

      • Dan

        When you find let me know and I’ll buy you a one way ticket there.

      • SW(SCW/EXW/PJ)

        I am still in the military and have been for quite some time, for some little puke to say OIF/OEF has nothing to do with making this the greatest country and that the war is BS I’ll let you take the next set of rounds heading my direction. To the other useless individual who says that America is and will never be the greatest country, how about you get out of the U.S. and go join ISIS so you can get treated like EVERY American hating military S**T talker should be treated. If this offends you myself and every Active Duty/ Veteran don’t care one bit. Y’all should grow a set and do what we have done and continue to do day in and day out. End of rant

      • Jake’s Bar and Grill

        While I’ve never served I’m as patriotic as the next guy and believe that if this film causes any ill will to the Muslim community, then tough S**T! I don’t see those who are advocating against the movie getting up at O-dark thirty to go and kick in some terrorist’s front door! Personally I’m with you in saying that if they don’t like living in this country, then go stand in front of those who wear the uniform so that they can take the hits instead of our countrymen and women. I’m 42 years old and have several family member in various branches of our military and believe that if those who want to say “Oh, wait that offends my sense of freedom and this is not the greatest country on Earth” should go find the fastest way out of this country because THEY offend me! So those of you who think that this is NOT the greatest country on Earth need to pull your freaking heads out of your butts because if it weren’t for people like Chris Kyle and others like him, A LOT of our military family would be coming home in body bags! GROW UP PEOPLE AND LOOK AROUND YOU AND SEE THAT THIS IS THE GREATEST COUNTRY ON EARTH BECAUSE IT SURE AS HELL BEATS SYRIA, IRAQ, AND IRAN BY FAR! Rant over

    • KenLand

      If they are so secure in their own skin, they should go do humanitarian aid in Iraq, Syria, or Yemen.

      • Dustin

        ISIS does seem to have run out of American hostages. Who knows, maybe if they convert to Islam and disavow the United States they’ll get out it, like the last few.

    • trinitydaily

      Lamees Mekkaoui identifies as Middle Eastern in America …. I will leave that there! So she doesn’t want to see A patriotic movie in an American School – I will leave that there.. So she started a freedom of speech petition – from the American Constitution – I will leave that there. And we conceded to that….

  • guest

    There is no free speech on college campus’. Only speech that does not offend certain groups and speech agreeable to the left.

  • Biggles

    College kids are in for a rude awakening upon graduation. I’ll give them 5 years and they’ll all be conservatives.

    • CandiceMartinez

      I agree 100%

  • guest

    A similar result would likely be expected at my law school…It truly is a shame that left leaning institutions that emblematize acceptance and open-mindedness will only do so when it’s suitable or aligns with a particular concept/idealogy. So military students, veterans, and others, that may possibly be using VA benefits to assist them in their studies, are expected to assimilate instead of encouraged to share/participate? This is a real problem and constitutes suppression, which in turn (over simplified for a comment-email) can be one of the plethora of factors that influence a students decision to leave an unwelcoming institution. *drop out rates for students utilizing VA.

    • CDS

      I believe it’s called the Henry Ford Model of Tolerance: “You’re free to believe whatever you want, as long as it’s what I believe.”

  • Sam Mcknan

    Free speech, right, free speech as long as you all agree with what I say or think. I wonder what the percentage of the student body signed that petition, 10 maybe 15 percent? A small percentage TELLING everyone else what they can see or do. That student needs to learn how the real world works and that collage should grow a set and tell her if you want you can stand outside the show with a sign feel FREE, but the movie is going to be shown.

  • guest

    It must be hard on some of the professors when they get one or two vets in their class. Most vets can spot BS a mile away. Are more mature, and have been out and seen the real would, and how it works. Not like the young skulls full of fluff, waiting to be filled with leftist drivel.

  • Leon Suchorski

    FREE SPEECH my a$%#. Where were these kind of students, and college staff when this here one, lone Marine took on 8 SDSers back in 1970? Well, 8 of them against one of me, I guess that I did out number them. But within three days, they were barred from campus. Why aren’t the vets speaking up as I did?

  • guest

    As the leftist thinking goes they are opposed to intolerance and anyone who disagrees with them. Why should they let facts get in the way of their opinions?

  • JJMurray

    So many of these closed minded students will eventually leave the cocoon of their campuses and find that the real world doesn’t give a damn about their sensitivities. I only wish I could be there to see the light bulb go off on each of their faces when that realization hits.

  • txkboy

    Harbaugh stepped in and commented on this. Made big news in the press.

  • artymgysgt

    I saw this movie twice and can hardly wait for it’s 19 May 2015 release on BluRay and DVD. I hope it is loaded with lots of extra features

  • guest

    Don’t think there is free speech. Universities have too many rigid speech codes for speech to be free. Break one of these speech codes and you are out, expelled or suspended.

  • Reading the story I thought, how can she protest the movie? She must have seen it! How is it we in this country allow so few to disrupt so many? If she’s foreign, who’s paying for her education? If these people come here for benefits of shared knowledge and expect their ideas to be the only ones that count (or matter), there should be stringent rules requiring departure. People claiming to be American who go to the other side, should be tried for treason

  • Terry

    If Ms. Makkaoui does not like it, perhaps she should return to her own country where they most likely will censor the movies she is permitted to watch.

  • m. mcmanus

    If she doesn’t like it don’t watch it……If she doesn’t agree with the universities decision to show it-transfer to another school.

  • Hellfish Chief

    I have not watched the movie and therefore cannot comment on it’s content. My wife and daughter watched it and walked away understanding what my fellow Airmen, Soldiers, Seamen and Marines experience as they answer the call to serve our country.
    Ms, Makkaoui is offended because she identifies as Arab and Middle Eastern. I for one, as many of my counterparts are offended every time we see reports of beheadings or the murder of Sunnis or Shias on each other. I am further offended that Universities cater to the lame cries from a group just in the name of political correctness. Universities use to be the one place where diversity was embraced and taught without influences from the left or right. I guess universities do not want to lose those valuable exchange students or federal money.
    What would happen if Japanese or German students wanted a university not to teach or show movies about WWII because it offended them? What if American students from all ethnicities and religious back grounds demanded showing movies or the reading of literature highlighting the sacrifices our military personnel have made to secure their freedom to choose?
    Censorship is the beginning of controlling the minds of the people and the demise of a nation.

  • RdogAmmo

    The University of Michigan will be showing the movie this weekend.