Lamar University in Beaumont says it is investigating complaints it has received regarding comments a sociology professor allegedly made about boycotting businesses that support next week’s Republican Party of Texas State Convention in Houston.
The professor’s alleged comments were posted on social media by a Nocona, Texas-based boot company. Calls to the company for comment have so far gone unanswered.
The professor allegedly wrote: “I wanted to let your company know that there is a movement of Texans, especially those of us who live in Houston, who will be boycotting your company if you continue to sponsor the republican convention in Houston, despite the crisis we are enduring re-COVID-19. You will likely be receiving thousands of letters and phone calls within the next fee (sic) days. Be clear that if hospitals are overrun with cases, people die or get sick, and we are forced into another shutdown, blood will be on your hands.”
Lamar University responded to Bluebonnet News’ request for comments by emailing the following statement: “Lamar University has been made aware that a faculty member, using Lamar University property and email, has sent a message to boycott a company for sponsoring the Republican Convention in Houston.”
The statement goes on to say that the university is “investigating this very serious personnel matter.”
Liberty County Republican Party Chair Ryan Daniel called the threatening of businesses unacceptable, particularly since businesses have already suffered losses as a result of the COVID-19 shutdowns.
“Right now, people just need to cool down and take a minute. We are living in hypersensitive times but threatening boycotts of businesses just because they support a political organization you don’t like is just wrong,” Daniel said.
James Dickey, the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, said it was ironic that the professor appears to be using her right to free speech to organize political activity in an effort to stop another person’s ability to do the same.
Bluebonnet News has reached out to the professor for comments. She is being unnamed in this story until the comments are proven to have been made by her.
Convention hangs in the balance
RPT also is in the midst of a battle with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner over his efforts to cancel the convention because of COVID-19 concerns.
“After allowing tens of thousands of protestors to peaceably assemble in the same city, in the same area, without any of the safety precautions and measures we have taken, he is seeking to deny a political party’s critical electoral function that should be equally protected under the Constitution,” Dickey said.
While the RPT has looked at the possibility of hosting a virtual convention, it also has been making plans to safeguard the health and well-being of convention attendees, Dickey said. These measures include the following:
- thermal scanning of each attendee when they enter the convention center,
- limited entryways,
- revised floor plans for the caucuses and general sessions to accommodate social distancing,
- deep cleanings after every meeting,
- contactless registration,
- one-way traffic in our exhibit hall,
- elevated curtain height to create further separation at exhibit booths,
- contactless hand sanitizer, and
- masks for attendees’ use.
“With his words today, Mayor Turner is saying Houston does not want business. He does not want Houston to get back to work. He is not able to move forward and rise to these new challenges,” Dickey said. “Is the City of Houston never going to get back to work? Is the City of Houston never to hold another convention at their cavernous Convention Center? This is an opportunity to show how to get back to work safely and how to hold conventions safely with cutting edge technology.”
Dickey added the RPT is considering its legal options.
“Our legal team is assessing the ability of the City to act at this time in this manner and weighing our legal options. We are prepared to take all necessary steps to proceed in the peaceable exercise of our constitutionally protected rights,” he said.
UPDATE: Since this article posted, the GOP convention in Houston next week has been canceled. The Republican Party of Texas is contesting the decision.