Education

Chancellor blocks white supremacist from speaking at UNC-Chapel Hill

Posted August 30

— Citing safety concerns, Chancellor Carol Folt said Wednesday that she won't allow white supremacist and alt-right leader Richard Spencer to speak at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

National Policy Institute, a white supremacist think tank, sought to rent space on the Chapel Hill campus for Spencer to speak.

"Our basis for this decision is the safety and security of the campus community – we are not willing to risk anyone’s safety in light of these known risks," Folt said in a letter to the campus community, noting that she had consulted with campus police and local and state law enforcement agencies.

Spencer, who often is credited with coining "alt-right" as a name for his white identity movement, is president of the National Policy Institute. A University of Virginia graduate, he was in Charlottesville, Va., this month during the violent clash being alt-right groups and counter-protesters.

UNC-Chapel Hill joins a growing list of universities barring Spencer from speaking on their campuses, including Florida, Penn State, Texas A&M and LSU. He has threatened legal action in some of those cases.

"I am deeply saddened and disturbed that the violent and virulent rhetoric being espoused by extremist groups has jeopardized the ability of campuses to promote robust dialogue and debate about important issues while ensuring public safety," Folt said.

She encouraged the UNC-Chapel Hill community to "engage in constructive conversation," including attending a Sept. 6 program called "The First Amendment and Free Speech at UNC" to explore such topics as what the First Amendment protects at a public university.

14 Comments

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  • William Sherman Sep 1, 10:37 p.m.
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    Simply asking a question--just who is it that the school is afraid of? Is it conservatives, or is it groups such as antifa, BLM, etc.,etc. That in no way draws any comparison to the white supremacist, neo nazi, alfata groups. Of these groups, just which is it that projects violence and damage, disrupting rallys? Who is it that is stopping the free expression of ideas--regardless of distasteful and hateful they may be--their adherents have a right to express their ideas with out interference from left wing liberal anarchists, antifa, etc..

  • Rod Runner Aug 31, 9:37 a.m.
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    Conservative individuals? Are you telling us that White Supremacy is a platform of the conservatives now? So they are not distancing themselves from it and are embracing it?

  • Teddy Fowler Aug 31, 9:29 a.m.
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    It's your words.... I will be at the game myself....

  • Teddy Fowler Aug 31, 8:57 a.m.
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    Your own comments are racially divisive.... kind of hypocritical don't you think?

  • Scott Patterson Aug 31, 8:42 a.m.
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    Good, these clowns make it a point to recruit on college campuses. The universities will need to step up to protect its students and campuses from these knuckledraggers. All for free speech, but not when it is done in a racially divisive way that harms the atmosphere of our higher learning institutions, it cannot be allowed. Keep it for your cross burnings in the woods...

  • Phillip Mozingo Aug 31, 8:22 a.m.
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    In Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942), the Supreme Court held that speech is unprotected if it constitutes "fighting words". Fighting words, as defined by the Court, is speech that "tend[s] to incite an immediate breach of the peace" by provoking a fight, so long as it is a "personally abusive [word] which, when addressed to the ordinary citizen, is, as a matter of common knowledge, inherently likely to provoke a violent reaction". Additionally, such speech must be "directed to the person of the hearer" and is "thus likely to be seen as a 'direct personal insult'". So in other words, not all free speech is protected by the first amendment and schools have the right [by law] to refuse or reject a speaker.

  • Teddy Fowler Aug 31, 8:19 a.m.
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    Everybody hates white supremacists and what they stand for.... part of me does not mind that they are not allowed to speak... but I am seen many instances in colleges around the country where various conservatives (not hate speakers) are constantly denied the right to speak due to these so called "safety" reasons... obviously the left tries to deny anybody who they disagree with the right to speak on campus... what are they afraid of?

  • Wayne R. Douglas Aug 30, 9:25 p.m.
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    This is plain and simple censorship. You folks who claim this "safety issue" bull, are just trying to do an end run around the 1st amendment. I don't like his message, but I also don't like the messages of the NAACP, BLM, Black Panthers, Antifa, The K K K, skinheads or any other supremacist organization, which they all are. Just as the white supremacist groups are trying to put down AA's, the AA groups are doing exactly the same in reverse.

  • Tim Orr Aug 30, 9:11 p.m.
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    If it's a safety issue, the government should step in to assure this man's freedom of speech. Seems to me it's more rhetoric to cover a Liberal school's condemnation of a differing opinion.

  • William Sherman Aug 30, 8:59 p.m.
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    A safety issue?? Concern for safety caused by whom--a person with whom you disagree, or a mob of leftist/liberal/alfta, BLM, etc--people who are well known to create violence and to suppress free speech where ever they can. Does the Chancellor fear the person wanting to speak, or the mob who wants nothing less than to riot and destroy. So much for free speech..

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