Not to be outdone by Gov. Rick Scott's State of Emergency declaration, a Gainesville brewery is doing its part to diffuse a potentially explosive atmosphere Thursday when Richard Spencer, America’s most noteworthy white supremacist, speaks on the campus of the University of Florida.
Instead of denying a right to free expression, the popular brewery is simply encouraging people not to attend -- by bribing them.
Alligator Brewing, possibly at the urging of UF President Ken Fuchs and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio who are trying to turn down the heat on Spencer, figured ... keep the crowds low-to-none and you make trouble disappear. What these brewmasters have done is extend a can't-refuse, college-town offer: bring in your tickets to the event, trade them for complimentary beer.
“We’re in no position to tell you whether or not to show up and protest, or completely boycott Richard Spencer’s appearance," reads the announcement from Tall Paul’s Brewhouse, home of Alligator Brewing, at 10 SE 2nd Avenue. "But here’s what we can do. For every two tickets you bring in we’ll trade you for a free Alligator Brewing draft beer.”
Turned-in tickets will go in the trash.
Added the establishment, “We unfortunately can’t stop him from bringing his hate to Gainesville. But we can empty the room so his disgusting message goes unheard.”
Mind you, Spencer and his organization, the National Policy Institute, have been tipped off to attempts at sabotage. The tickets originally were to be offered through the campus box office, from which they were going to be made available to the general public last Saturday. But in a change of tactic, the university will not be the ticket distributor after all. Now Spencer’s group will control who gets in and who doesn't, passing tickets out themselves, as a way of verifying they get into the hands of only those who really want to attend the event.
Authorities are also putting contingencies in place. The governor’s order allows for synchronization of various law enforcement agencies. He is also activating the National Guard to be ready as an emergency option. In response to these moves, Spencer exhibited a decided tone-deafness. During a phone interview, referring to the show of force, the Nationalist described Scott's preparations as “most likely overkill”.
When confronted with Spencer’s ticket dodge, the folks at Alligator Brewing were undeterred. “It has been brought to our attention that tickets are not currently available. We continue to stand by our pledge, and will support our community of unity, peace, and strength. #lesshatemorebeer"
Spencer's appearance stirs still-raw emotions after the summer tragedy in Charlottesville, Va. On Aug. 13, one person was killed and 19 were hurt when a speeding car slammed into a throng of counterprotesters during a "Unite the Right" rally of white nationalist and other right-wing groups carrying hate slogans.
Brad Slager is a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer who wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.