WPR News
8:37 pm
Thu April 1, 2010

Ayers weighs in on event cancellation

Laramie, Wyo. – There is a vigorous debate on the University of Wyoming campus about free speech and academic freedom. That's in the wake of the Social Justice Research Center's decision to withdraw an invitation to Bill Ayers to speak at U-W. Ayers is an education professor now, but he was anti-war activist in the 1960s.

The university president said he supported the decision to rescind the invitation and said the cancellation was not an infringement on academic freedom or free speech. From Chicago, Bill Ayers said he was dismayed by comments written by the president. "To me it read like something out of 1984. You know, no one should take this as a thought that we caved into any pressure. We believe in free speech and that's why we're cancelling this speech.' I mean it was quite crazy."

Ayers says the decision didn't infringe on his free speech, but on that of those who invited him and wanted to have a dialogue with him. He says he speaks at campuses about once a week, and no school had ever cancelled until controversy emerged over purported links between him and President Obama during the 2008 presidential election.