American Renaissance Conference in Limbo: Charlotte City Councilman Patrick Cannon Reportedly Violated Group`s First Amendment Rights
January 30, 2011, 11:45 AM
A+
|
a-
Print Friendly and PDF
According to American Renaissance, the hotel that contracted, six months ago, to host the organization’s conference on February 4-6, has suddenly broken its contract, and according to a report by Fred Clasen-Kelly in the January 26 Charlotte Observer, the hotel’s cancellation was the doing of Charlotte City Councilman Patrick Cannon.

 

White nationalists` conference stymied

Host hotel cancels group`s reservation as Charlotte City Council member Patrick Cannon works behind scenes. by Fred Clasen-Kelly

When a white nationalist magazine announced a conference in Charlotte, anarchists and other groups vowed to protest or disrupt the gathering.

But behind the scenes the conference apparently met an unexpected obstacle: Charlotte City Council member Patrick Cannon.

On Wednesday, American Renaissance magazine said plans for its annual conference are now in limbo because the hotel where it was scheduled to take place canceled the reservation.

An e-mail Cannon sent to a constituent early this week suggested he was lobbying local hotels to refuse to book American Renaissance.

Cannon wrote that he had contacted hotels and that "they seem to be cooperating."

"An attempt was made for accommodations at another hotel but based on what I ask to take place they were denied again," the e-mail said.

Jared Taylor, American Renaissance editor, said Cannon`s e-mail violated the First Amendment.

"It`s unconscionable (that) public officials would try to interfere in private contractual affairs," Taylor said. "We have never run into this before."

In a brief interview Wednesday, Cannon said he sent the e-mail to "update a constituent on where things stood."

"By no means would I be in the business of trying to violate someone`s rights," Cannon said.

The news came on the same day that the Jewish Defense Organization posted a statement on its website, saying City Council member Warren Turner sent an e-mail to Charlotte hotels about the conference.

Turner denied contacting hotels to stop the conference….

Organizers scheduled a conference Feb. 4-6 at the Sheraton Charlotte Airport Hotel near Charlotte/Douglas International Airport. The group booked 100 rooms at the eight-story hotel, where rooms cost as much as $225 a night….

American Renaissance has tried to reserve rooms at other hotels but has been rebuffed, Taylor said.

Taylor said Cannon`s e-mail reflected intolerance and was "profoundly hypocritical."

Richard Toenjes, associate director of UNC Charlotte`s Center for Professional and Applied Ethics, said Cannon`s e-mail could be construed as a violation of free speech.

"If the person used his or her name which would be recognized as the name of a council member, I`d say the member was functioning as a public official and hence out of line interfering with protected free speech," Toenjes said.

But Scott Huffmon, a professor of political science at Winthrop University, said merely warning hotels about the upcoming conference is within the rights of elected officials.

"Alerting the hotels and saying this isn`t good for our image is using the bully pulpit, but not necessarily unethical," Huffmon said. "If he tried to use the position to cajole, coerce or bully that would be different."

Note Huffmon’s sophistry: How is “using the bully pulpit” not using his “position to cajole, coerce or bully”?

Meanwhile, Jared Taylor and Co. are seeking a new venue. I’ve got my ticket booked for February 4, and unless and until I hear otherwise from my friends and colleagues at American Renaissance, I’ll be flying to Charlotte next Friday.

In any event, I urge Jared to sue the pants off of the hotel and, should Clasen-Kelly’s story check out, to sue the City of Charlotte for millions. Only when such illegal conduct proves extremely costly to its agents, will it stop.

A tip ‘o the hat to American Renaissance.