Monday, March 30, 2009

Bill Ayers Banned Again

UPDATE: Boston College has banned Ayers from speaking even via satellite. This is an outrageous attack on academic freedom and free expression on campus, and a direct violation of Boston College's own STATEMENT OF RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES which proclaims that students have:
"The right to be free of any action that unduly interferes with a student's rights and/or learning environment."
"The right to express opinion, which includes the right to state agreement or disagreement with the opinions of others and the right to an appropriate forum for the expression of opinion."
"The right to have access to a process through which to resolve deprivations of rights..."
I can't see how banning a speaker due to "emotional scars" is in any way compatible with Boston College's rules.

Bill Ayers is being banned from speaking again, this time by the administration at Boston College. But the “reasoning” given is particularly odd: "As a university, we pride ourselves on the free expression of ideas and on the prestige that Boston College holds as a destination of choice among prominent speakers. But we are also aware of the obligation we hold to be respectful of our host community. The emotional scars of the murder of Boston Police Sergeant Walter Schroeder, allegedly at the hands of the Weather Underground, which left nine children fatherless in the shadows of this campus, was an issue that we could not ignore."

As InsideHigherEd reports, Ayers had nothing to do with Schroeder’s murder in 1970, so this makes the ban particularly odd. This kind of repression of free speech should appall everyone. The “obligation” to the “emotional scars” of a “host community” could justify banning every speaker. Suppose there is a Vietnamese person in Boston who lost a relative in the Vietnam War: Would anyone who supported the war (or who supported the Vietcong) be banned from speaking? If an Iraqi lives in Boston, would anyone who supported the war in Iraq be banned from speaking? If a Palestinian (or an Israeli) lives in Boston, should anyone who has taken one side in that dispute be banned?

There is one difference between all of these examples and Bill Ayers: Ayers had absolutely nothing to do with the killing of this police officer. So now we’re dealing purely with three degrees of guilt by association: because Ayers was involved in the Weather Underground, and someone else involved in the Weather Underground was involved in a bank robbery where someone killed a police officer, therefore Ayers should be banned from speaking in Boston. If somebody involved in the Republican or Democratic Party committed a murder (and obviously they have), would that mean all Republicans and Democrats should be banned from giving speeches?

The absurdity of Boston College’s stance is so obvious, it should embarrass anyone associated with the institution.

Of course, Bill Ayers does have free speech elsewhere, and he will be speaking via satellite off-campus tonight.

The real victims here are the faculty, staff, and students of Boston College, who are being told by their university that if they have ever held unpopular views, they can be silenced by the administration.

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