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