Bill Ayers and Freedom of Speech

We are known as the Equality State.

Many years ago some law professors at the University of Wyoming were espousing reforms in environmental law which really irritated some folks in the energy industry.  A good friend of mine advocated that they be muffled or sacked, and I wrote letters to the editor in favor of tolerance of a range of views in educational institutions.

I did not agree with all that Professors Squillace and Dohonue advocated, but if we are to learn why and how things we think are right are actually right, we need to hear from others; it helps us calibrate and validate our beliefs.

Bill Ayers probably said things like “smash the state” and “we are enemies of the state” in the 1960s.  Ron Micheli is quoted in the paper as believing that Ayers is still an enemy of the country.  I think Ayers has probably grown up since then.

I’ll wager that Ayers will not be as profane as a standup comic or as offensive as Fred Phelps or as inflammatory as a jihadist;   Laramie will probably survive his appearance.

On a serious note: supporters of our University should not threaten to pull their support just because a guy like Ayers is permitted to offer his opinions in a civil forum.  The harder choices in defense of academic freedom and flourishing public discourse arise when a controversial figure appears; the speaker may make us squirm, or make us mad, or lead us to think that he is an idiot.  We can handle it.  We should not punish University officers and University programs just because we have a controversial speaker with a new point of view.

By the way, if you yank that money from UW, where are you going to send it?  To another University which restrains freedom of expression in hopes of attracting revenue from angry

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  1. “Bill Ayers probably said things like “smash the state” and “we are enemies of the state” in the 1960s. Ron Micheli is quoted in the paper as believing that Ayers is still an enemy of the country. I think Ayers has probably grown up since then.”

    Are you serious? You need to scrap this story and go do some research on Ayers. UW did the correct thing. Ayes is an unrepentant domestic terrorist, responsible for multiple bombings in the 60’s. He has never apologized, and says he is sorry he didn’t do more. He declared war on his own country, and is an active communist, trying to convert our government through the education systems. He did grow up, but he has never grown out of his beliefs and his intentions, and is just going about his agenda in a different manner.

  2. Even if we take akw at his or her word about Bill Ayers and not bother to go ‘do some research’, I still don’t understand what is so fragile about U. Wyoming students thinking that Ayers’ message could overwhelm them. That these students’ sense of self and citizenship and their ability to think critically could be so vulnerable and precarious is actually evidence in support of Dr. Ayres’ critiques of the education system.

  3. When I moved back to Laramie a couple of decades ago the phrase was being tossed around “UW the Harvard of the Rockies” maybe no one was really serious about this. If we cannot hear all sides of the debate, then decide for ourselves, I am sorry for us. Wrong move, UW admin, to ban the Ayers lecture. Had it come to fruition, no one would have been forced to go.

  4. If the University of Wyoming cannot manage to sponsor real discourse, then where in Wyoming can students learn from opposing views. I think the University’s willingness to cave into outside pressure and cancel Ayer’s presentation is a pathetic statement indicating the University’s inability to stand on the guiding democratic principle of free thought.

  5. “Bill Ayers probably said things like “smash the state” and “we are enemies of the state” in the 1960s. Ron Micheli is quoted in the paper as believing that Ayers is still an enemy of the country. I think Ayers has probably grown up since then.”

    Are you serious? You need to scrap this story and go do some research on Ayers. UW did the correct thing. Ayes is an unrepentant domestic terrorist, responsible for multiple bombings in the 60’s. He has never apologized, and says he is sorry he didn’t do more. He declared war on his own country, and is an active communist, trying to convert our government through the education systems. He did grow up, but he has never grown out of his beliefs and his intentions, and is just going about his agenda in a different manner.