U of Wyoming Cancels Bill Ayers Speech

Last week, an Ann Coulter appearance was canceled by the University of Ottowa. A few days ago, Karl Rove was heckled at an event promoting his book, threatened with a citizen's arrest by Code Pink, and ended up leaving the stage.

Now the University of Wyoming has canceled a speech on education and social justice by William Ayers.

While Ms. C. is just a media maven with no expertise that could rise to the level of a contribution of ideas, Ayers is an expert in his field, and arguably, Rove, as a political strategist who worked closely with a President, had information and insights to share with the public.

Canceling speeches and appearances for objections to ideology, and misrepresenting the grounds for nixing the appearance as a "security risk" seems like a bad idea. What's causing this trend, and is there a solution?

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    Insurance? (none / 0) (#1)
    by squeaky on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 11:18:12 AM EST
    Or extra security expense? Or bedwetting, more likely.

    Pressure from wealthy donors? (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 11:21:19 AM EST

    Does Wyoming have a state law school? (none / 0) (#23)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 06:24:57 PM EST
    Could send them John Yoo.

    What's causing this trend (none / 0) (#3)
    by Peter G on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:41:10 PM EST
    is the angry, intolerant mood in which people do not want to listen to the "other side"'s ideas, but only to lie, scream, and call names.  This is not unique to "either side" of our national debate, by the way, but it is found much more often on one side than the other.  And only on one side is it hyped by members of the mass media.  On our side, the nearest approximation is mass media humorists (Colbert, Stewart), which is no equivalence at all.

    It's also a backlash (none / 0) (#4)
    by jondee on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:07:40 PM EST
    in response to years of being 'talked at' by people who seem to exist in some hermetically sealed media parallel universe that seems to many to respond much more to it's too-big-to-fail overlords than to the thoughts and desires of people "out in the world".

    A lot of this is an understandable, if at times misguided, attack on a certain elite that people feel has gone out of it's way to talk over, past and around, but rarely to, the people of this country.

    Jeez, Im starting to sound like Glenn Beck..



    They are "broken records" (none / 0) (#7)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:08:44 PM EST
    When was the last time something new was revealed by Coulter or Rove? People are sick of that element constantly getting a forum to speak and banking a boatload of cash to do it while the economy is collapsing for the majority of the country.

    Kudos for Raising this Question/Topic (none / 0) (#5)
    by DaveCal on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:33:09 PM EST
    People should be able to speak, and we should debate and discuss the ideas, rather than demonizing those who dissent, labeling them crazies or fringe elements, or painting entire groups as racists or incitors of violence because they don't like the current government's policies.

    And while I applaud you raising the question/topic, I wish you would have raised it earlier, say when Ann Coulter was prevented from speaking in Ottowa.  

    I gather from your comments that you would have expected to disagree with Ann, or have no interest in listening to her speak.  And I gather from your comments that you would have expected to agree with Bill Ayers, or at least would have liked to hear him speak.  But you only raised the issue now when the Bill Ayers speech was cancelled.

    Still, I know you are busy and these happened relatively close in time, so I'm glad you raised it.  The juxtaposition should raise the issue in most people's minds.  

    One other point to contemplate.  There are somewhat different issues here.  

    In one category are speeches that are cancelled before they happen by the institution hosting (such as this institution cancelling Mr. Ayers' speech, and Duke University recently cancelling a scheduled pro-life sponsored Motherhood event at Duke's "Women's Center").  The institutions ought to encourage more speech, not less, rather than cancelling events when faced with complaints.  And most, if not all Americans should support that.  

    But in another category are speeches and events that are interrupted/cancelled by protestors who go with the intention of stopping the speech because they don't like the speaker and/or the message (such as the cancelling of Ann Coulter's speech and the disruption of Karl Rove's event). These protestors oddly act as if the right to protest or right to free speech applies only to them, and not to the speeches/events they interrupt or cause to be cancelled.  Most, if not all Americans should oppose that.        

    These Issues are Orthogonal (none / 0) (#6)
    by msaroff on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:37:29 PM EST
    With Coulter, the issue is Canada's overreaching hate speech laws.

    With Ayers, it is that wingnuts see him as the puppet master behind Obama, and they literally want to kill him, and so there is a real issue with the right wing hate community.

    With Rove, the issue is heckling, and in almost every other English speaking nation, heckling, whether it be of politicians, or of controversial speakers, is seen as both a tradition and as a civil right, just look at heckling during parliamentary elections in the UK.

    The civil rights issue here is not someone being heckled, but rather the fact that heckling is routinely criminalized in the United States.

    What? (none / 0) (#8)
    by DaveCal on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:37:44 PM EST
    Sorry, you're going to have to show me these "wingnuts" who "literally want to kill" Ayers.  I haven't seen any evidence of that anywhere in the media.  

    Interesting juxtaposition though.  He is an admitted and unrepentent domestic terrorist bomber.  But you see those who don't want to hear him speak as "the right wing hate community".  Only one person in this discussion who "literally" wanted to kill anyone, and it was Mr. Ayers.    

    I don't want to here him speak either, and I deplore his tactics.  Does that make me part of a hate community?  


    Bill Ayers is unrepentent (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Peter G on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:58:55 PM EST
    about his use of bombs to attack unoccupied buildings in a misguided attempt to stop the Vietnam War.  I did then and do now utterly reject and denounce that tactic, even while fully supporting the larger cause.  However, it is untrue that Ayers and the Weather Underground ever set out to kill those they opposed or said they wanted to.  What basis do you have to make that assertion, Dave?

    During the time when Ayers was a bigger (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 03:43:31 PM EST
    topic of discussion, numerous reports were televised and written about that said his group placed a bomb under the car of Judge Murtagh, and bombed his home when the entire family was inside asleep. Are those inaccurate reports?

    What basis (none / 0) (#14)
    by jondee on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 03:40:41 PM EST
    other than hearing people say it a few hundred times on talk radio?

    You ought (none / 0) (#28)
    by Wile ECoyote on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 10:25:21 AM EST
    to be able to find a link if it was said a few hundred times.

    The burden of demonstrating a basis (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Peter G on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 05:07:21 PM EST
    for an assertion is on the person making the assertion, not on the one asking whether the assertion can be supported.

    There are ways (none / 0) (#33)
    by jondee on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 05:18:51 PM EST
    of asserting things without asserting them, such as always being careful to mention 9/11 and Iraq in the same sentence.

    A lot of assertions are made that way..particularly on Planet Wingnut.


    If jondee can, so can you :) (none / 0) (#30)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 04:50:13 PM EST
    Google Judge Murtagh as a starting point for your research.

    There was a rumour (5.00 / 2) (#32)
    by jondee on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 05:12:14 PM EST
    that Ayers planted one "up" Rush, while he was sleeping, that Limbaugh accidentally found later, just before it was set to go off..

    Along with a nest of Spotted Owls (none / 0) (#34)
    by jondee on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 05:32:14 PM EST
    and the remains of Natalee Holloway..

    Hmmm (none / 0) (#16)
    by DaveCal on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 03:44:02 PM EST
    You're taking issue with my use of the phrase "literally" wanted to kill (which I used because the original poster used it)?  

    OK, so he's unrepentent that he planted bombs, even though at least one of those bombs actually killed someone.  At the very least, that shows a reckless disregard for the likelihood that his bombs could or would kill.  And since he's an educated man, I feel safe saying that he knew or should have known that such activities had the possibility (if not extreme likelihood) of killing or seriously injuring someone.

    Is that Better?  

    I'm curious, though.  Why do you nit pick over this and pay no attention whatsoever to the original poster's statement that wingnuts literally want to kill Mr. Ayers?  

    On a "literally want to kill" scale of 1 to 10, I'd put Mr. Ayers' actions at about a 9, and the so called wingnuts at a 1.


    Well, excuuuuse me (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Peter G on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 04:03:26 PM EST
    for thinking that you knew the meaning of the word "literally," Dave, or would only say what you meant.  My mistake. I guess I'm used to TalkLeft being one of those unusual blogs where intelligent people, with strong but well-informed opinions, share their views while saying what they mean and supporting what they say with facts. (For example, I know something about Ayers and the Weather Underground, having lived through those times, and having known a couple of them.) Didn't realize you wanted to play by different rules.  That's ok; your choice.  (Nor do I consider it nitpicking to suggest that by adding the word "literally" to a statement, a person would mean to emphasize that their statement was meant to be understood literally.)  From now on, I will ignore you, as I (and many of us longtime regulars) tend to do to those who don't belong here -- not because of their ideology, but because they won't endorse those basic rules of civilized discourse.  For example, you ask why I said nothing about the claim that many wingnuts literally want to kill Prof. Ayers.  I said nothing because I have no knowledge of that, one way or another.  Hence, no opinion and no comment.  Imagine!  And no, it is not "better" for you to to claim that one of the WU's bombs "killed someone."  The only person killed, Diana Oughton, was a member of the WU who was killed by an explosion while trying to assemble a bomb.  I don't remember whether Ayers says he continued to place bombs after that incident or not.

    Hmmm (none / 0) (#17)
    by squeaky on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 03:58:53 PM EST
    Ayers desire to kill: 9

    Wingnuts desire to kill: 1

    That is based on what?

    BTW- Are you in favor of capital punishment?

    the post didn't say why Ayres was cancelled (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by ZtoA on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 03:20:16 PM EST
    Code Pink is just a fact of life. A good friend recently attended a panel discussion where Jodie Evans was a participant and evidently, even tho it was a friendly discussion on the rights of women, she just loudly interrupted pretty much everyone. I'm more fond of her politics than the MO. But Code Pink has a right to heckle and if Rove chooses to leave then bye bye.

    I agree about Ayres. While I will support war in some cases, and even realize use of covert military action might be justifiable, I simply do not condone domestic violence/terrorism. Expressing anti-establishment ideology by targeting government buildings for bombing is just grotesque. I would protest someone like Tom Metzger (is he still around?) and would not want my university to host him. Same for Ayres, actually.


    For some things (none / 0) (#22)
    by nyjets on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 06:20:45 PM EST
    For some things, time is irrelevant. There are some actions committed by some people that will never be forgiven and the person will never be forgiven for what he did. The fact is that Ayers was a member of a terrorist organization AND was never really punished for his actions. On both counts, he will never be forgiven or allowed to forget.
    Do not forget, he is one of a number of people from that era who committed a number of criminal acts, of which only some of those individuals were actual punished. And in some cases, those punishements were very lenient. Therefore, I can understand why some people will never forgive Ayers.
    The fact is that 'intensive passions' is an inadequate excuse.

    I'm sorry about your father (none / 0) (#25)
    by ZtoA on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 06:56:04 PM EST
    And I do think anti-vietnam war protests were valid. And I can understand you being passionate about the anti-vietnam war protests.

    I thought WU was distinctly unhelpful to those tho.

    I just do not respect those who use bombing as a way to make a political point or to change policy. I strongly dislike those who target abortion clinics even when they argue they do it when no one is there (supposedly). Bombing tends to endanger lives - just the nature of bombing.

    But Ayres has certainly had his reputation laundered. And he has lived as a free man with the opportunity and means to change his reputation. Lucky him. But I would not want my university (if I had one) to host him as a speaker, as I would not want it to host an unrepentant "respected" former abortion clinic bomber.

    A friend of mine remarked one difference between Ayers and Joseph Stack (IRS bomber) was that when Ayers was bombing not one elected democrat said positive things about him or his methods. Contrast that with several elected republicans saying strangely positive things about Stack. I don't think it is good policy to support bombing tactics.


    oops (none / 0) (#9)
    by DaveCal on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:39:13 PM EST
    "here" should be "hear" in the last 'graph.

    Logic (none / 0) (#10)
    by squeaky on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:42:16 PM EST
    He is an admitted and unrepentent domestic terrorist bomber.

    next logical step:

    Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that the only alternative to holding some suspected terrorists indefinitely would be to execute them, arguing against the Obama administration's plans to close the Guantanamo detainee prison.

    "If you're going to be engaged in a world conflict such as we are, such as the global war on terrorism, if you don't have a place where you can hold these people, your only other option is to kill them," Mr. Cheney said.

    GOP logic 101


    William Ayers, Professor of Education (none / 0) (#13)
    by KeysDan on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 03:40:36 PM EST
    and Senior University Scholar at the UIC College of Education, was invited to speak on area of his interest and expertise, social justice, at the University of Wyoming Social Justice Research Center.  Of course his background includes the Weatherman Underground's violent campaign against the Viet Nam war, but he was not jailed, and, in fact, due to the illegal tactics of the FBI, all charges were dropped against the Weathermen, including Ayers. Ayers does challenge the issue of his not expressing remorse.  In any event, and in my view, Professor Ayers would be a valuable resource for students in the social justice field, both what to do and what not to.The University of Wyoming president erred in not honoring the core concept of academic freedom for fear of alumni and citizenry complaints.  Karl Rove, too, has a controversial past, albeit of a different character, but he, too, is a great resource for students.  Heckling of Ayers or Rove, or peaceful protests, are a part of what they may expect.  Ann Coulter, is a curiosity, but is someone students will want to hear speak. And, the more objections the more they will want her. I say, O Canada, bring her on!

    I can't see how Ayers would be (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by Cream City on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 06:04:49 PM EST
    a useful speaker in the social justice field; explain?  What is the social justice field, anyway -- which majors would those be?  Philosophy?

    In the criminal justice field, yes, it would be useful for those students to learn from the over-reaching tactics of the FBI.


    Cream, please excuse the tardiness of (none / 0) (#29)
    by KeysDan on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 11:08:07 AM EST
    my response, but your comment was just noticed.  It is my understanding that social justice is not a discipline, per se, but an interdisciplinary and cross-professions effort that cultivates social justice and promotes scholarship on its behalf.  The idea of social justice, according to the University of Wyoming's Social Justice Center, grew out of the history of the civil rights movement and draws upon work in anti-racism, Black and Ethnic Studies and Women's Studies. The Center states among its goals, "intellectual exchange" rooted in critical analysis, and "constructive dialog" in a climate of mutual respect, with affirmation of multiple perspectives and points of view including the use of counter-narrative.  Apparently, the Center is supported by federal and other funding , with its provenance in the President's Adv. Council for Minority and Women's Affairs.  Wyoming probably attracts funds for diversity and social understandings in rural areas.  William Ayers was a privileged kid, the son of Thomas Ayers, CEO of Chicago's Commonwealth Edison and a philanthropist. William, while a student at Ann Arbor in the 1960's started his activism by picketing the social injustice of a local pizza parlor that would not serve African Americans, moved into teaching in a community school, and then started free schools. Of course, we know how his activism went far off the rails into violence. More recently, Ayers, as professor of education, is now an expert in urban educational reform and efforts for social justice, according to Wiki. My comment was not in advocacy for Ayers but in support for academic freedom. Ayers was invited to speak in an area of his interest by an academic center whose purpose involves his area of interest. It seems to me that he is well-suited to contribute in accord with the Center's stated goals. Ayers background was certainly not a secret, and the cancellation of his invitation, once offered, was not a courageous act by the University president.