It seems as if Texas A&M University has found a loophole around First Amendment issues, with officials announcing Monday that they have canceled a planned white supremacist rally meant to be hosted on campus, citing student safety.
The Texas Tribune reports that the school said that it made its final decision after consulting law enforcement and after “considerable study,” and ultimately ruled that the event will not take place because of “concerns about the safety of its students, faculty, staff and the public.”
“Texas A&M’s support of the First Amendment and the freedom of speech cannot be questioned,” the university said in a statement Monday afternoon. “However, in this case, circumstances and information relating to the event have changed, and the risks of threat to life and safety compel us to cancel the event.”
People like to hide a lot of shitty, provocative hate speech behind the First Amendment, but thankfully, on Monday, it didn’t seem to work.
News about the planned rally, featuring white nationalist fuckboi leader Richard Spencer, began to circulate and go viral Monday following the weekend of violent racism in Charlottesville, Va., after a similar Unite the Right white supremacist rally that left one person dead and several injured.
Preston Wiginton, a Texan with known white nationalist ties, had planned the Texas A&M event for Sept. 11 and had confirmed that Spencer said he was speaking. A press release announcing the event declared, “TODAY CHARLOTTESVILLE TOMORROW TEXAS A&M.”
It seems as if officials at Texas A&M and law-enforcement officials had seen enough in Charlottesville to just say, “Not today.”
“We were disturbed about the title of Mr. Wiginton’s release,” Amy Smith, senior vice president and chief marketing and communications officer at the university, told the Tribune.
“When we discussed with law enforcement and others who were at the meeting today, there was no guarantee that we could guarantee safety,” Smith added. “If we could not get that guarantee from our law enforcement, we were not going to put a single student at risk.”
Nonetheless, assholes do as assholes do, and it is almost certain that the school’s decision to cancel the event will still be tested in court, the Tribune notes. Wiginton said Monday afternoon that he had not been told that the rally had been canceled, adding that he signed up to protest at a “free speech area” on campus.
Whether or not it actually goes that far and will be held up in court is another story, since A&M would be tasked with proving to a court that it did not discriminate against Wiginton’s views and provided other alternatives for his message to be communicated, according to the Tribune.
“I guess my lawyers will now be suing the state of Texas,” he told the Tribune, adding that he knew of a lawyer who would help.
Read more at the Texas Tribune.