Nothing could be funnier than white supremacy’s poster child, Richard Spencer, speaking about free speech this Thursday at the University of Florida — other than the fact the university actually allowed him to rent out their facility, which apparently means the neo-Nazi will have full control over which journalists will be allowed inside the venue to cover his speech.
University of Florida has given Richard Spencer full control over which journalists will be allowed inside the venue to cover his speech.— Lois Beckett (@loisbeckett) October 18, 2017
“They've rented the facility. It's their event. It's not our event,” University of Florida spokeswoman Janine Sikes told the Guardian reporter Lois Beckett.
"It's their event so they’re the one that are allowing media in...that’s why they can have whomever they want to," UF spokeswoman told me.— Lois Beckett (@loisbeckett) October 18, 2017
This is irony at its worst and censorship at best. But who didn’t see that coming?
Spencer may be giving a pep talk on freedom of speech, but it apparently excludes freedom of press and reporters’ rights to practice journalism.
Spencer has also been given complete control over who will receive the audience tickets. The group announced they will distribute tickets personally an hour before the actual event starts, a plan that one student rightfully called “volatile” and a “huge danger.”
A tight control on who gets to attend the event may result in all tickets going to Spencer supporters or far-right journalists.
Remember the Washington, D.C., conference rife with Nazi propaganda and cries of “Heil Victory! Heil Trump!”?
So it’s actually free speech (read: hate speech) for Richard Spencer and his fans only but not for reporters or opposing students?
How is that going to promote objectivity?
Spencer himself has not confirmed if he will deny entry to his opponents, but considering he and his supporters have gotten a lot of resistance and been chased from numerous similar events in the past, it’s possible he may prevent such things from happening at this event — and for him, that means blocking protesters rather than banking down his incendiary rhetoric.
The school had denied an earlier petition from Spencer to speak in September on the grounds of public safety risk following the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, which was led by the white supremacist. Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old anti-racism activist, was killed when an alleged white nationalist drove his car into a group of protesters.
However, a few weeks later, the university had to capitulate, stating they were not allowed to restrict free speech. The university’s president, W. Kent Fuchs, urged the students and staff not to attend the event in order to deny Spencer and his supporters the attention they so desperately crave.
But since Spencer will personally regulate who gets to attend his event, it seems his brand of free speech is anything but free speech. It’s actually pure oppression.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: Reuters, Shannon Stapleton