West Texas A&M University president Walter Wendler banned a drag show on campus–and made absolutely clear he knows what he did is unconstitutional and that he doesn't care.
A harmless drag show? Not possible. I will not appear to condone the diminishment of any group at the expense of impertinent gestures toward another group for any reason, even when the law of the land appears to require it
Mocking or objectifying in any way members of any group based on appearance, bias or predisposition is unacceptable. Forward-thinking women and men have worked together for nearly two centuries to eliminate sexism. Women have fought valiantly, seeking equality in the voting booth, marketplace and court of public opinion. No one should claim a right to contribute to women's suffering via a slapstick sideshow that erodes the worth of women.
Students with the Young Conservatives of Texas's West Texas A&M University branch, as well as other community members, are voicing their support for Wendler, stating that they "Stand with Dr. Wendler and WTAMU to ban drag shows on campus."
In the petition, which as of around 4 p.m. Tuesday has 215 signatures, the community member is asking the public to sign the petition to "encourage Dr. Wendler and WTAMU to not be swayed by the angry voices of those who are opposed to the truth about drag shows."
Proceeds of the show were due to support The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ young people. The show was scheduled for March 31. A university spokesperson declined to provide further comment on the president's email, citing pending litigation. Wendler's decision and remarks drew backlash from both students and advocates who said the move was wrong – and unconstitutional.
Legal trouble incoming. FIRE:
We explained to Wendler today that as the president of a public university bound by the Constitution, his personal opinions on things like "Natural Law" are subordinate to his obligations under the actual law. Not least of which, the First Amendment and Texas law protect student expression from administrative censorship.
Drag shows are protected expressive conduct like other kinds of theatrical performances, picketing or leafleting, or wearing armbands to protest war. And the First Amendment's protection of expression that government officials may dislike is a long-standing and basic principle that all public university presidents should understand.
Wendler's adoption of lefty points (drag is a sexist caricature of women, etc) to garnish his bigotry is an interesting novelty and something you'll be seeing more of from the usual suspects. Everyone sees through it and thinks he's trying to be funny. But I lived in the region, once, and found that guys like this are earnest about their homespun syncretism. It's weaponized empathy. So while this might appear as an example of the right's self-amused "right to play", it's more of a sneer than a smirk. It's a reminder that they're nuts and they feel close to getting away with doing what they've always wanted to do.