Sports, News, Opinion

Clayton’s Calls Out Port Isabel Teacher For Alleged Racist Comments

in RGV/The News by

Clayton’s Bar and Grill, a popular staple of South Padre Island, took to Facebook on a March 31st post to claim that Point Isabel ISD teacher Shane Wilson made racially charged comments in a discussion with the bar’s owner, Clayton Brashear. The post specifically stated that Wilson allegedly “wanted Clayton’s to stop hiring Black hip hop & Latino artists because he thinks they attract to (SIC) many Mexican & Black people to the island.” The post concludes with “We think Shane is “RACIST”.”

Below is a screenshot of the Facebook post in its entirety:

Currently, the post has over 652 reactions, 395 shares, and 307 comments. As users have been asking Clayton’s to provide audio/visual evidence of the incident, Clayton’s response to these requests has simply been “he said this direct(ly) to Clayton” and “he said this direct(ly) to me.” Due to the lack of evidence for Clayton’s to support its claims, many users are chastising the post, claiming that Clayton’s is simply spreading hearsay with no definitive proof of the conversation or that Wilson even made the comments.

Wilson has since denied the allegations, stating the following:

Wilson’s supporters have also taken to his personal Facebook page to his defense, writing:

The petition that is mentioned in the post is the Property Owners Who Care (POWC) “Save Our Island 2017” petition that is currently posted on change.org and sponsored by Wilson himself. The petition is aimed directly at businesses (like Clayton’s) that promote “mass gatherings and events” and pushes for new SPI city ordinances to ensure that these venues that sponsor these events to bear the brunt of financing security and police to manage the crowds.

We believe that this Petition is necessary due to many events which occurred during “Texas Week” (roughly, March 13 through March 18 of 2017) of 2017’s “Spring Break.” These events – and their “out of control” nature – led to residents, visitors and citizens of the City of South Padre Island being fearful for their personal safety and the safety of their loved ones. Further, we, the undersigned, believe that the regional and national image of the City of South Padre Island has been tarnished and that many years of goodwill were significantly damaged in a single week.

Most of the requests seem fairly reasonable, however this particular article may have raised a few eyebrows:

C. To insure that, if a Mass Gathering and/or Event approved by the City has been previously shown to attract attendees other than college students (specifically those with criminal records, or individuals associated with acts of violence, the trafficking of drugs, etc.), the City would impose additional requirements on the venue owner(s) and the promoter(s) of such Mass Gatherings and/or Events and, in certain cases, require that the venue owner(s) and the promoter(s) post a bond before a permit is issued by the City.

How one determines that a specific gathering “attracts individuals with criminal records, associated with acts of violence, trafficking of drugs” is beyond me however it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this petition, who it targets, and who its sponsor is altogether probably play a pretty integral role in Clayton’s and Wilson’s very public feud.

The petition currently has 454 signatures/supporters.

Clayton’s has since seemingly doubled down on the allegations and has posted a message stating their willingness to serve all races coupled with a strange, almost incomplete, pie-chart depicting the racial demographics of Cameron County.

Clayton’s post could potentially make them liable as a defendant in a defamation lawsuit on behalf of Wilson. According to the Texas Civil Practices and Remedy Code:

Sec. 73.001. ELEMENTS OF LIBEL. A libel is a defamation expressed in written or other graphic form that tends to blacken the memory of the dead or that tends to injure a living person’s reputation and thereby expose the person to public hatred, contempt or ridicule, or financial injury or to impeach any person’s honesty, integrity, virtue, or reputation or to publish the natural defects of anyone and thereby expose the person to public hatred, ridicule, or financial injury.

If Wilson were to have a case, he would need to prove that harm had materialized (such as termination or suspension from his job, loss of wages, etc.) as it’s often difficult to prove the “impeachment of a person’s integrity and virtue.” Basically, Texas courts are set up to where you can’t just simply file a lawsuit against someone and expect to collect damages just because you got your feelings hurt.

There are, however, exceptions to holding someone liable for libel:

Sec. 73.002. PRIVILEGED MATTERS. (a) The publication by a newspaper or other periodical of a matter covered by this section is privileged and is not a ground for a libel action. This privilege does not extend to the republication of a matter if it is proved that the matter was republished with actual malice after it had ceased to be of public concern. (b) This section applies to: (2) reasonable and fair comment on or criticism of an official act of a public official or other matter of public concern published for general information.

With this added wrinkle to the statute, the questions would now be:
A) IF what was written was a lie, was it done in actual malice and recklessness and B) if Wilson, a public school teacher, is considered a public official. Texas courts have so far ruled that teachers are not, however, legal definitions can be fairly fluid as more and more legal matters are brought to court and more precedents are set.

Currently, Clayton’s is in the middle of a separate lawsuit with the ASCAP for illegally playing copyrighted music without appropriate licensing. If Clayton’s is unable to furnish any tangible evidence to prove their allegations against Wilson were in fact true, they’ll most likely be served with another lawsuit.

2 Comments

  1. Well, now “WE” know that The Benchwire exists. Why don’t you go back to reporting about when a transformer explodes or when a pelican gets hit by a car. Glad you ALL (as in “WE think he is racist”) think he is too. That racist 🍋ss
    DARED to talk and joke with me, an obvious dark-skinned Mescan, then he went behind my back and treated my WHITE husband with respect THEN he was an excellent teacher to my half-breed daughter. The gall of that man! I’ve seen him talking and joking and teaching CHINGOS of Mescans. Glad you saw through his ruse.

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