Archive for September, 2017

Asshole update

The racist won.

Well, to be precise, everyone but the racist won.

White supremacist Richard Spencer will speak at the University of Florida, says First Amendment attorney Gary Edinger. As I wrote three days ago, that was in doubt and almost in court.

Edinger represents Carmen Padgett, who’s essentially Spencer’s agent. Last night, Edinger sent me a statement he’s released publicly…

It appears that a resolution can be reached and that litigation will not be necessary. Mr. Padgett has received assurances that Mr. Spencer’s speaking engagement will go forward on a different date, but most likely in the same venue: the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on campus. We have not yet established a new date or terms for the speech.

Edinger blames Hurricane Irma for “the slow pace of our discussions.” But he’s meeting with UF officials by phone this morning “at which time we hope to announce firm details.”

A hurricane and a racist. Not your typical news day.


  • Richard Spencer and his agent won’t extract a cash settlement from another public university, as they did from Auburn in May.
  • Sometime soon, Spencer will speak on a college campus where he’s not wanted.
  • He’ll be met by protesters expressing their Constitutional rights.

The system works. Too bad we can’t negotiate with hurricanes the same way.

Assholes have rights

I stand with this racist.

If you’re a patriotic American, so should you.

Meet Richard Spencer, one of the nation’s best known white supremacists. Actually, he’s most famous for getting the crap kicked out of him.

In Charlottesville last month, the 29-year-old Montanan got pepper-sprayed — and then taunted by the likes of the Washingtonian, which ran this headline: “Stop What You’re Doing and Enjoy These Photos of Richard Spencer Crying.”

Back in January, Spencer got punched in the face at an Inauguration Day rally in DC. Maybe you saw it…

…because it has more than 3 million views and inspired dozens of mocking memes.

Now Spencer wants to speak at the University of Florida, my alma mater. (Is it still my alma mater if I got expelled?) After three weeks of trying, he still hasn’t secured a date. So there might be a lawsuit.

It’s like this…

  • A 23-year-old Georgia State University student named Cameron Padgett is acting as Spencer’s agent, booking him on a national college speaking tour.
  • In the aftermath of Charlottesville, the University of Florida denied Padgett’s request to bring Spencer to campus, citing “serious concerns for safety.”
  • Padgett hired Gary Edinger, a Gainesville First Amendment attorney, to either secure Sept. 12 as a speaking engagement or sue the school.

Padgett has sued before and won. In May, Auburn settled for $29,000 after the public university tried to deny Spencer’s appearance there.

If he sues again, I’ll help.

And I’ll ask for SPJ’s help, too.

Padgett signed a “facility rental contract” for Spencer to speak at the Phillips Center, pictured above. I can’t imagine a racist filling all those seats, but I suspect that’s not the goal.

I beleve Padgett wants to get denied. Why? The math…

  1. If Spencer speaks without getting hassled, he won’t draw 20 people. His real audience isn’t his meager supporters, it’s his copious opponents.
  2. Padgett’s contract with the University of Florida will cost him $6,000 for rent and security. When Auburn refused and later relented, Padgett was paid nearly $30,000.

…which means he could easily be more profiteer than white supremacist.

Thus, helping Padgett get permission for Spencer to speak on campus isn’t just morally correct, it bleeds both crowds and cash from two assholes.

We all have the right to be wrong.

When Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos were similarly denied campus speaking engagements earlier this year, I was stunned by SPJ’s silence.

Journalists know better than most: If the government can mute free speech because of “safety concerns,” two things surely follow…

  1. Protesters will realize threats of violence – or actual violence – are the best way to silence their opponents. Mob rule will overwhelm democratic debate.
  2. Governments will be tempted to cite “public safety” when they just don’t want to deal with the public – or the press.

Alas, I couldn’t do much about Coulter and Yiannopoulos. SPJ’s arcane rules dictate I represent only Region 3 – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Well, Spencer is in my territory now. And this weekend is SPJ’s annual convention. So I’ve contacted Padgett’s attorney, and I’ve submitted the resolution below, which attendees at the convention will vote on.

I’ve also asked SPJ’s Florida chapter to set aside money from its Legal Defense Fund – and notify the University of Florida that Spencer has at least one ally who’s not an asshole.

RESOLUTION: Supporting free speech even when it’s offensive – because the alternative is so much worse

Submitted by: Region 3 director Michael Koretzky

WHEREAS one of SPJ’s six missions is, “The Society must maintain constant vigilance in protection of First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and of the press;”

WHEREAS in 2003, SPJ’s Quill magazine declared, “All free-speech cases affect journalism;”

WHEREAS in 1998, SPJ called a Constitutional amendment banning flag-burning “a threat to freedom of speech;”

WHEREAS in 2010, SPJ decried a California law restricting violent video games by saying, “the Court should not eliminate First Amendment protection for violent speech” because of “the negative implications of a violent speech exception for journalists;”

WHEREAS white supremacist Richard Spencer speaking at the University of Florida, a public institution, is no more or less egregious than the cases stated above;

WHEREAS SPJ knows that once free speech is restricted for one group, journalists aren’t far behind;

WHEREAS SPJ also knows when “safety concerns” are allowed to routinely squelch offensive speech, it’s not long before those same concerns will be used to prevent publication of information that offends those in power;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that SPJ urges the University of Florida and all public institutions of higher learning to uphold their Constitutional responsibilities and educational missions, no matter how unpleasant that might be – whether it’s hosting Richard Cross, Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, or whatever asshole comes next.


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