By: Bob Hague-Wisconsin Radio Network
Governor Scott Walker is signaling that he’ll sign a bill weakening the state’s law regarding Indian mascots. The controversial measure is ready for the Republican governor’s signature, and he’s indicating that he’ll sign it, although it was not a priority issue for him.
“If I could personally change things, I would find a way to deal with any school or local entity that had a nickname or a slogan or a mascot that was offensive. and find a way to change that so that it didn’t offend Native Americans and others,” Walker told reporters in Stevens Point on Wednesday.
AUDIO: Governor Scott Walker 1:30
But Walker said current law restricts the freedom of speech of school districts to choose nicknames and mascots. “Freedom of speech means freedom of speech whether I think it’s good speech or bad speech or bad speech, whether I agree with it or not, whether it’s offensive or not,” Walker said. “Once you start reining in speech just because someone or a group of people don’t like it, that’s a slippery slope. That’s the balance between empathy towards the concerns raised, but an equal concern about freedom of speech.”
Critics of the bill charge it will weaken current state law to the point where it will be virtually impossible to force districts to drop offensive mascots.