Bill Ayers Banned from Speaking, Again
By John K. Wilson
The Spring 2009 issue of Illinois Academe reported on several colleges banning University of Illinois at Chicago professor Bill Ayers from speaking. Since that issue, Ayers was banned from speaking once again, this time by the administration at Boston College.
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?
In response to the ban, Ayers was scheduled to speak via satellite off campus, but the Boston College administration prohibited this event as well. 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.