Florida Governor Rick Scott, in anticipation of a speech planned by “alt-right” white supremacist Richard Spencer at the University of Florida, has declared a state of emergency in advance of his appearance.
As much as I would like to be able to report that this is because Spencer carries with him a literal hurricane of bullshit at all times — Hurricane Himmler, if you will — it is so that state, county, and local agencies can more quickly coordinate their resources around the scheduled appearance by the insufferable Spencer.
Unfortunately, Richard Spencer has accomplished nearly everything he has ostensibly set out to do, short of eradicating people of color from participation in American democracy: He now commands a significant media presence, spouting his nationalist garbage at every opportunity. His “alt-right” movement has been granted a measure of legitimacy by our racist president. And perhaps worst of all, we in the “news” arena have to deliver to you, the readers, day after day, more stories about the kind of people we thought The Greatest Generation killed off 70 years ago.
The school originally attempted to stop Spencer from holding his hate party on their Gainesville campus, but like any free speech advocate will tell you, even assholes have the right to say asshole things, so when Spencer threatened to sue the public university, they quickly backed down, despite the fact that they will be forced to spend half a million dollars on security for an event they don’t even want to take place.
It’s an odd position for me to be in writing about this, since Rick Scott is himself a human dumpster fire of terrible decisions and right-wing cruelty. But he sounded pretty close to reasonable in his press release after signing the executive order that declared the emergency:
We live in a country where everyone has the right to voice their opinion, however, we have zero tolerance for violence and public safety is always our number one priority. I have been in constant contact with Sheriff Darnell who has requested this Executive Order to ensure that county and local law enforcement have every needed resource. This executive order is an additional step to ensure that the University of Florida and the entire community is prepared so everyone can stay safe.”
Let’s hope that, above all, somebody steps up to do what is absolutely necessary, and at some point during the appearance, punches Richard Spencer in the face.
Featured image via Joe Raedle/Getty Images