Photo quiz time. Below is a picture of an LSU student rally group called The Painted Posse, from the Tigers' game against South Carolina a week or so back:
And here's the same picture, ever so slightly altered. Notice anything different?
In reproducing the photo for a campuswide email, LSU made the decision to airbrush out the crosses on the students' chests. See, The Painted Posse is a group of Christian-centered Tiger fans, and, well, someone somewhere inside LSU decided not to mix football and religion. (Which is a bit surprising, considering that in the SEC, football IS religion.)
"I was a bit surprised, because our pictures get used so frequently, and the cross had never been edited before," Cameron Cooke, one of The Painted Posse, said in a recent interview with the conservative website Campus Reform. "The cross painting is important to me because it represents who I am as a Christ follower, and it reminds me who I need to act like in Death Valley."
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The school, in a statement, indicated that it was not trying to censor any views, but rather to avoid the appearance of endorsing one. "We don't want to imply we are making any religious or political statements, so we air-brushed it out," the school said in a statement to Fox News. "Only one of the students, who didn't appreciate it, actually contacted us about it. So next time, we'll just choose a different photo."
The explanation is reasonable enough, though whoever's in charge of developing promotional materials for LSU athletics should have known better. After all, when it comes to politics, religion and Southern football, rational discussion is all too often the first victim.
Fortunately, The Painted Posse has no plans to make any more of an issue of this than it already is. And LSU's got bigger concerns than airbrushing and censorship, like a looming showdown with Alabama next weekend.
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