Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Free speech at UW campus? Only if it's Dick Cheney doing the speechifying

Homegrown war criminal Dick Cheney spoke freely at the University of Wyoming campus. I guess it helps that he donated a big pot of money for international programs to teach students how to invade sovereign foreign counties with impunity.

Meanwhile, UW today cancelled a speech by educator Bill Ayers.

Here's the rationale (from a UW press release):

After a deluge of protests, the director of the Social Justice Research Center at the University of Wyoming has cancelled the scheduled appearance of Professor William Ayers. The director announced his decision to the UW administration late Monday evening and noted there are no plans to host Professor Ayers in the future.

In his communication to the administration, the director apologized to the university community for any harm that may have come to it and cited personal and professional reasons, including safety concerns, for the cancellation.

In response, Tom Buchanan, president of the University of Wyoming, said, “I appreciate the consideration for the university that the re-evaluation demonstrated.” Buchanan thanked the director for taking this initiative and for his willingness to respect the interests of the UW community, including statewide constituencies.

“Re-evaluation of this event was unavoidable. One way or the other, this event needed to be revisited, and I respect the director for being willing, on his own, to cancel this invitation. I’m satisfied with the outcome,” Buchanan said.

He continued, “Academic freedom is a core principle of any institution of higher education. But with that freedom comes an obligation to exercise free thought and free speech in concert with mutual respect and acknowledgment of broader resource and security impacts on the campus. The exercise of freedom requires a commensurate dose of responsibility.

“Observers in and outside of the university would be incorrect to conclude that UW simply caved in to external pressure. Rather, I commended the director of the center for a willingness to be sensitive to the outpouring of criticism, evaluate the arguments, and reconsider the invitation.

“The University of Wyoming is one of the few institutions remaining in today’s environment that garners the confidence of the public. The visit by Professor Ayers would have adversely impacted that reputation.

“During the past few days, controversy over Professor Ayers’s visit has been intense. While this episode illustrated an opportunity to hear and critically evaluate a variety of ideas thoughtfully, through open, reasoned, and civil debate, it also demonstrates that we must be mindful of the real consequences our actions and decisions have on others.”

Deluge of protest? This morning's Wyoming Tribune-Eagle counted 180 calls and e-mails to UW as of press time. Most were negative. Let's say all of them were negative. That adds up to .0034 percent of the Wyoming population. Deluge?

Here are some of the radical messages promoted by Ayers, according to today's Casper Star-Trib:

Reached by phone Monday, Ayers said his lecture would focus on two themes: the ethical and intellectual commitments of teaching and how teaching in a democratic society differs from teaching under other social and political systems.

Teaching in a democracy, he said, differs from, say, medieval Saudi Arabia, because, "our starting point is the incalculable value of every human being."

"We start with the ideal that everyone is of value and therefore everyone has an opportunity to learn and to grow in our schools," Ayers continued. "The reason that's true is we're not just preparing people to find their pigeonhole in the hierarchy of society -- we're training people, educating people, to be the masters of society. In a democracy, the people are sovereign."


bigfrank said...

Funny!!! While you say war criminal Dick Cheney but educator Bill Ayers! WOW! Free speech if it comes from the libs huh? The two are about the same amount of war criminals just that Ayers is more of a domestic one. Ayers doesnt even believe in free speech.
How about the people of Wyoming that send their kids to UW that called and voiced their opinion? They have no free speech? How about the people who have a feeling about the reputation of UW they have no free speech?
Or do you only have free speech if you preach what you want to hear?

mpage225 said...

In fairness, Mike, we on the so called "left" have our own history of trying to shut down speakers on campus. Let us remember it can go both ways. Even a Dick has a right to speak. By the way, if he is going to teach our young ones how to invade a sovereign country, let's hope that instead of invading with "impunity" we invade with an effective plan. Please see "Fiasco" by Thomas Ricks to see just how bad our plan was.


Michael Shay said...

Point taken, Bob. I do remember a few of those at UF. Wasn't It Nguyen Cao Ky of South Vietnam who was booed off the stage and had to escape by helicoper?

Michael Shay said...

Bigfrank, I guess it's better to call Mr. Ayers a domestic terrorist -- that's what reporters called him in the Casper Star-Trib and the Billings Gazette. Mr. Cheney, of course, is an actual war criminal, responsible for the death of 200,000-plus Iraqi civilians and some 5,000 U.S. soldiers and marines. He can speak at UW 'til the cows come home. That doesn't change history.