U-M pulls a screening of American Sniper, coach Harbaugh responds

We all knew it was just a matter of time before Harbaugh exerted himself. Well, it’s happened.

Screen shot 2015-04-09 at 7.36.55 AM

CONTEXT: Earlier this week, the University of Michigan announced a campus screening of the controversial film American Sniper. As one might expect, the announcement was met with a significant student protest. UM, in response, cancelled the screening. Then came the inevitable backlash against the University, led by the likes of Fox News. [My favorite line came from the NY Post: “Students will now instead be forced to watch “Paddington” — a PG-rated movie that centers around the misadventures of a stuffed bear.“] And, it was into this fray that Harbaugh decisively jumped yesterday evening, when he sent out the above message to his followers via Twitter. And, with that, the University caved. At 10:45 PM last night, E. Royster Harper, the vice president of student life, issued a statement calling the decision to pull the movie a “mistake.” She went on to say, “The initial decision to cancel the movie was not consistent with the high value the University of Michigan places on freedom of expression and our respect for the right of students to make their own choices in such matters.” For what it’s worth, the University says the film will be shown “in a forum that provides an appropriate space for dialogue and reflection,” and, of course, Paddington, that PG film about the “misadventures of a stuffed bear,” will be showing somewhere else on campus at the same time, for student who would prefer not to participate in the deification of Chris Kyle. [From the University’s press release: “Therefore, the university also will show an alternative movie, ‘Paddington,’ in another location on campus at that same time and date to provide our students with additional options that evening.“]

UPDATE: For what it’s worth, I don’t have problem with UM showing American Sniper. What I have a problem with is their decision to counter program against it with Paddington, instead of taking the opportunity to show a great anti-war film like Dr. Strangelove, or a documentary like Gwynne Dyer’s War.

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  1. Eel
    Posted April 9, 2015 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Harbaugh could have them reading the Turner Diaries and no one would give a damn as long as they were winning. This is Michigan.

  2. Lisa Dengiz
    Posted April 9, 2015 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Yep, football once again rules the day at UM. Shame on the new Admin regime. This is not the same university I attended. What a farce! This fact that UM pulled the film was on the International CNN last night….gonna be a little hard to pull that one back…but yeah to Paddington!

  3. idea man
    Posted April 9, 2015 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    I want to see Paddington as Chris Kyle, not instead of him.

  4. EOS
    Posted April 9, 2015 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    The University has admitted its mistake and will show American Sniper as planned on Friday. This is still America after all.

  5. Paddington Kyle
    Posted April 9, 2015 at 10:41 am | Permalink


  6. Lynne
    Posted April 9, 2015 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    It seems like a lot of bruhaha over nothing to me. Who cares if they show a movie or not? I haven’t seen American Sniper because I am not a fan of war movies but as long as they are not forcing anyone to see it, what is the problem? This is especially so if there is some after-the-movie discussion where those who have issues with the glorification of war can voice their concerns so that those who watch the movie have some context.

  7. Elf
    Posted April 9, 2015 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I would go to an American Sniper – Paddington double feature.

  8. Elf
    Posted April 9, 2015 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Or, better yet, we could run the audio of one over video of the other, and then switch things the other way around for the second feature.

  9. Frosted Flakes
    Posted April 9, 2015 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    If faculty members protested the showing of the film then I have to laugh at those faculty members. Universities should show controversial films. Duh.

  10. Bob
    Posted April 9, 2015 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    I think I’m suffering fatigue at the backlash on the backlash for these kinds of controversies. That sniper guy seems like he was a giant asshole, but you can probably watch this on your smartphone already. Who gives a fuck about these non-stories anymore?

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