A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis, serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. © James Conner.

18 October 2017 — 1618 mdt

Richard Spencer is a headline grabbing nuisance, not a threat to humanity

Tomorrow, at 1430 EDT in the University of Florida’s Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Spencer will deliver a speech, presumably on his love for people with white skin. He’s probably not hoping that his audience will listen respectfully. Instead, he’s probably hoping that leftist AntiFa thugs will shut him down, and with fists and clubs knock down and bloody his supporters, if any show up, so that he can present himself as a martyr to free speech.

The university tried to refuse his request to hire a room there, but relented after running afoul of the First Amendment. Now hundreds of law enforcement officers will prowl the campus, a show of force intended to deter confrontations and fights.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the university is peevishly acceding to its constitutional obligations:

The university also warned students they would see an increased law-enforcement presence on campus. The university has estimated that providing security for the Spencer event will cost $500,000, and Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency on Monday.

“I fully understand freedom of speech cannot be burdened legally with the full cost of this, but on the other hand we’re being burdened,” UF President Kent Fuchs told the Associated Press on Wednesday. “So taxpayers are subsidizing hate speech.”

Fuchs, perhaps playing to the AntiFa, is taking the low road instead of pointing out that in truth, the taxpayers are defending the First Amendment rights of everyone. If he really wants to save his school money, he’ll get rid of intercollegiate sports and focus solely on education.

According to the university, the additional security will cost half a million dollars. Perhaps it will, but I wouldn’t take that figure at face value. The university has every incentive to produce the highest possible estimate of cost. I’d like to see a line item breakdown for the $500k figure, and similar data for other events.

Spencer’s strategy is a variation on George Lincoln Rockwell’s tactic of applying for parade permits he hoped would be refused so that he could petition a court to protect his right to free speech.

The left, of course, is arguing that Spencer’s appearance at Gainesville is about hate speech and violence, not about free speech, and that he should be shut down. These leftists, who fear free speech, have no confidence that their fellow citizens, among them the students at the university, have the wit to reject and refute Spencer’s ideas and arguments after hearing them.

For these leftists, these enemies of free speech, these self-appointed enforcers of political correctness, I recommend Ken White’s essay on hate speech that was published in the Los Angeles Times, and Erwin Chemerinsky’s new book, Free Speech on Campus.

Let him speak. Sit silently while he does. Don’t applaud. Don’t engage him directly. In another venue, refute his ideas and argument. But don’t pay too much attention to him. He’s making headlines, not converts.