The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

White Supremacist Richard Spencer Tried To Speak At UChicago. He Was Refused.

By Stephen Gossett in News on Aug 15, 2017 6:10PM

Richard Spencer at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville / Getty Images / Photo: Chip Somodevilla

White supremacist Richard Spencer has two alma maters. He received a B.A. at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, the same place he helped organize last weekend's notorious "Unite the Right" rally. He also received a Master's degree from the University of Chicago—and he's apparently trying to return to UChicago, too, for a speaking engagement. But the professor to whom Spencer reached out had no interest int the alt-right figurehead's request.

Spencer emailed Professor Geoffrey R. Stone, a law professor and First Amendment scholar at the university, on Aug. 1 in an attempt to secure some manner of speaking appearance, saying he was "eager to return to campus, particularly [because the University has made clear that it] will not be a 'safe space.'" according to emails published by Stone on Huffington Post.

Spencer's "safe space" comment refers to a letter that was sent to incoming freshmen last year that stated the UChicago did not support “so-called ‘trigger warnings’” or "condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces"—although neither were in fact banned.

Spencer expected that Stone might be sympathetic to his plight because the professor had penned an op-ed for the New York Times in April in which he defended Spencer's constitutional right to speak at Auburn University, in Alabama. (Auburn is a public university; the University of Chicago is not.)

But Stone was not swayed. He told Spencer that even though he'd defend others' right to bring Spencer to campus if such a situation arose, it wouldn't be him that lends any kind of welcoming hand to the "Hail Trump"-ing racial separatist.

Stone replied to Spencer, according to the Huffington Post:

"My strong support for the right of students and faculty to invite speakers to campus to address whatever views they think worth discussing does not mean that I personally think that all views are worth discussing. From what I have seen of your views, they do not seem to me at add anything of value to serious and reasoned discourse, which is of course the central goal of a university. Thus, although I would defend the right of others to invite you to speak, I don’t see any reason for me to encourage or to endorse such an event."

The professor expounded on the email exchange in an accompanying essay on Huffington Post. Despite Stone's staunch First Amendment advocacy, welcoming Spencer would simply be a bad call. "No, I think I personally won’t invite Spencer to speak on campus," he wrote. "And I hope others will have the good sense to recognize ugly, ignorant, vile, hatred when they see it."

The emails and Stone's essay were published on Huffington Post the day after the Charlottesville attack, in which one person was killed and 20 people were injured when a driver plowed into a group of counter-demonstrators. The alleged driver has long advocated Nazi views and sported white-supremacist regalia over the weekend, according to the Washington Post.

[H/T DNAinfo]