Academic Freedom Under Attack in Illinois
Illinois state Sen. Larry Bomke doesn’t like the fact that ex-radical William Ayers is teaching at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and so he’s proposed SB 41, the Prohibition on University Employment Act, in order to fire Ayers. The entire text of the bill declares, “A university is prohibited from employing a person who has committed an act of violence against the government of the United States of America or the State of Illinois.”
Ayers called the bill “frivolous.” Actually, it’s not frivolous at all. It’s dangerous.
There is no such thing as violence against the government. The government is not a person. Violence can only be committed against people. Now, it is possible to damage government buildings, but that’s called vandalism. The notion that somebody could be banned from employment at a university for committing vandalism but not for murder is a rather odd formulation.
Bomke’s bill applies not only to public universities, but also any private university that receives state funds. Since all private colleges in Illinois receive some state funds through financial aid for students, this bill represents a serious expansion of government power over private institutions.
It’s also notable that Bomke only proposes to limit such employment for universities, and no other parts of government. Perhaps that’s because it’s quite appropriate for ex-criminals to have jobs.
And Bomke’s bill is particularly alarming because it defies our system of justice, which holds that no one should be penalized unless they are proven guilty in a court of law. Bomke’s bill mentions nothing about this, and its target, Bill Ayers, was never found guilty in any court. Under Bomke’s bill, all public colleges in the state would be forced to look for any employee who might have committed “violence” against the government and fire them. It’s a bad bill, badly written, by a bad, pandering politician who has no intention of seeing it passed.