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