Alt-right speaks in Cincinnati

Defining freedom of speech as Richard Spencer visits UC

November 30, 2017

Everyone has heard of the First Amendment. It differentiates America from much of the world as it outlines freedom of religion and press, the right to assembly, and the freedom of speech.

Americans cherish these rights and the liberty that they justify. However, beliefs may not always align with the expression that comes with these liberties.

Socially radical offenses like flag burning or attempting to spread racist ideologies are not exemptions to the First Amendment.

Even if one’s message conflicts with another’s personal ethics, each person has the right to demonstrate and spread their ideas.

Renowned on the Internet for his disquieting views, white nationalist Richard Spencer has attempted to hold speeches at universities like Michigan State and Ohio State University.

Spencer’s platform advocates for the “preservation of the white identity.”

“America cannot exist without [white people]. We defined it. This country does belong to white people, culturally, politically, socially, everything. We defined what America is,” Spencer said during a speech he made at Texas A&M.

In wake of the violent protests in Charlottesville, universities have been reluctant to allow Spencer to speak at their institutions.

However, after numerous lawsuit threats were made to schools that denied Spencer, the University of Cincinnati (UC) agreed to host him and is currently preparing for his controversial arrival on Jan. 29, 2018.

Nonso Okonji, a 2017 SHS graduate and current UC student said, “As a black man in today’s society, I realize that I am a target to certain hate groups and that I may be mistreated.

“The day of his arrival, I will most likely be staying indoors with people from black student associations so that we can discuss the ordeal.

“Everyone that I have spoken to has displayed strong disdain towards Spencer and his coalition.

“It is not worth my effort to yell at those who will shout louder in my direction. During a time like that, I want to be in an environment I feel safe and secure in.”

UC is doing its best to establish a safe environment students like Okonji.

On account of the issue, UC’s President Neville Pinto addressed minority students who felt attacked by Spencer’s rhetoric in a publicly released email.

“His hate only makes our love for you stronger. We must adhere to the foundational rights embedded in the First Amendment… even, perhaps especially, words that are blatantly hateful or offensive,” Pinto said.

In a video release titled “#1UC”, students and staff members call for community members to turn their backs against divisive rhetoric and looking towards our commonality as human beings.

“If we are silent or indifferent, he wins. The choice of how we respond to Richard Spencer’s visit is ours to make. If we choose hate, he wins…We are one UC. And we choose love,” UC said.

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