Judge Rules UW Must Allow Ayers to Speak

Bill Ayers will speak at the University of Wyoming Wednesday.
Bill Ayers will speak at the University of Wyoming Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge William Downes ruled Tuesday afternoon in favor of William Ayers and University of Wyoming student Meg Lanker in their lawsuit against the University of Wyoming. The lawsuit was initiated when the University restricted Ayers from speaking on campus.

The University cited "security concerns" as a rationale for restricting Ayers' ability to speak on campus, as UW received a numerous hateful and threatening emails in response to Ayers' initial scheduled appearance in early April.

Downes stated that such threats can't be used as a reason to deny Ayers' right to speak on campus. Testimony heard this week also revealed that donors who had contributed millions to the University threatened to stop contributing money to UW if Ayers was allowed to speak on campus.

Judge Downes said in his ruling, "If the First Amendment can't find sanctuary somewhere on a college campus, where can it take refuge?"

its strange!

Funny how Ayers never protested the war while JFK or President Johnson were in office.It must have only been a bad war whan a Republican was in the white house?

mark m


are we talking lie as in bill clinton and monica?

Absolutely. However, I

Absolutely. However, I would say when the lie is used as a pretext for war or involves U.S. policy in any way, even domestic policy, it carries slightly more weight because the consequences are much greater and it affects the public to a greater degree.

I agree, and wish more

I agree, and wish more people could see this as well....

I find myself having to

I find myself having to agree with you, there is nothing more contemptible to me than those that either skew the data, or outright lie in order to go to war. I have found it troubling that the Clinton's, Cheney's, or the Bush's commit troops to combat when they have themselves have not served (although Bush was in the reserves). It also bothers me that with few exceptions the children of our leaders do not serve in the military. Maybe next time a president decides to take us to war congress should actually have to step up to the plate and formally declare war, and we should have a draft.

It seems that not only

It seems that not only should we have a draft, but some sort of national service should be required for everybody, whether you are a Clinton or a Smith. I know this probably isn't the best practical solution. However, I am disturbed that many of our leaders seem willing to sacrifice any American's blood but their own during conflict, but also that Americans in general are quite cavalier and flip about going to war. I think if we are to go to war, both leaders and the public should be willing to make the necessary sacrifices and that it is a decision we should take very seriously. Once we make the decision to invade a country, etc. we should not suddenly decide to pull the troops out just because we feel like it. I wasn't in favor of invading Iraq in the first place, but I think once we are there, we do have a responsibility to help stabilize the country. (Not to mention it is in our best interest not to leave behind another failed state.)

Also, requiring some sort of national service for everyone might be a good way to help develop discipline for our video-game addicted youth.

I know there are problems with this solution and that it would probably be political suicide for anyone who tried to get something like this implemented. And you could argue it might cause us to be too cautious. I don't know, but sometimes it feels like our decision to go to war is taken with the same gravity as one's decision to buy low-fat peanut butter instead of regular. I know that isn't everybody, but it is still too many-

let me see

let me see if i have this right- if we are in a war/conflict and i disagree with the decision of the president to get us in that conflict i have the right to blow things up? does that also apply to healthcare? bail outs? someone clarify for me.. i am just an old vietnam vet........

No, you don't. And I never

No, you don't. And I never said Ayers had the right to do what he did, either. However, in this case his past is irrelevant.

I am also of the opinion that the way many of the Vietnam protests were handled was disgusting. (That doesn't mean I agree with the government's handling, either-) Although I was not alive during that time period, I feel extremely horrified by what honorable men, such as yourself, had to endure, both in the war and upon returning. It is very sad the way so many people, who risked their lives for what they believed and were told was in defense of the United States, were treated upon coming home.

In any case, we obviously don't agree on this issue. I do want to say, however, that I appreciate what you and other veterans have done for our Country and thank you for your service.

Does the President of the

Does the President of the United States have a right to blatantly lie to the American Public?

I wasn't comparing the issue

I wasn't comparing the issue on moral grounds, just putting the issue to simple cost. As I said I really don't care for the 60s protest cause, for the most part they hurt their own cause more than they helped by their actions.

I agree with what you are

I agree with what you are saying; I think some of the ways people protested were terrible--especially how veterans were treated after the war--and certainly hurt their own cause. I am curious, however, (and I don't have really any opinions on this) what you think may have been a more effective way of protesting the war?

Protesting that the war was

Protesting that the war was a bad idea, and a waste of American lives and treasure would have worked better. The protesters often seemed more concerned with the welfare of the enemy that with that of our own troops. Certainly the protest movement lost all moral ground when they mistreated returning troops, rioted, and bombed buildings. Just think of that picture of Jane Fonda on that north Vietnamese anti aircraft gun, it was just treasonous. At some point the protest movement turned from loyal opposition to enemy sympathizer.

Yes, it is pretty

Yes, it is pretty unbelievable that people would support the enemy. While I suppose I could see why someone might think Communism was a good and ethical idea before anyone tried implementing it, it makes no sense why anyone would in any way support these brutal regimes. And with the benefit of hindsight, even if Communism could be implemented without the brutality, it is pretty clear what a horrible and inefficient way it is to organize the economy--

I've been thinking a lot

I've been thinking a lot about Mr.Ayers today, the words like terrorism and free speech that are thrown around quite freely. Lets Look at damage done by Mr.Ayers. As far as I could tell My.Ayers blew up a statue twice, and set bombs off at the capitol and the pentagon doing by his own admission "tens of thousands of dollars" in damage. There were no deaths. On the other hand Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson started and continued a war that cost 58,135 dead American soldiers, 303,316 wounded soldiers, 35,000 American civilians dead (I assume contractors), 2,500 missing, and cost the country 168.1 billion dollars(in 1960s dollars). I've never had a lot of sympathy for the anti war movements of the 1960s, they always struck me as sympathetic to the enemy. However when you look at the matter objectively Nixon and LBJ cost more lives and treasure than Mr.Ayers and his cohorts could ever dream of, and did not benefit this country in any material way.

Where do we draw the line

I am reading some actual defense in the actions of Ayers in the past, because of what he was protesting. I believe that abortion is wrong, and I believe that any doctor who performs abortions is killing a human. But, I would never dream of bombing an abortion clinic or using bombs as a way of protesting my feelings about this. If I did, I would rightfully be put in jail, even if I didn't kill anyone. I get tired of hearing that "nobody was killed" which seems to make it alright to do the damage that was done. And also, who paid for that damage that was done to the Capital and the Pentagon? Did that come out of the taxpayers pocket? It seems this has become more of an issue of whether he was right in protesting the way he did, instead of whether he had the right to speak at the university. Defend his right to speak. but don't defend his right to blow up things because he disagrees with the issue.


I wasn't attempting to

I wasn't attempting to defend his actions or make a moral call either way, just trying to throw out a different perspective. As I have said elsewhere no one did more to hurt the anti war cause than those like Mr.Ayers, at least in my eyes. Here we are 40 years later, unpopular war with virtually no protests in large part because of the types of actions Mr.Ayers and men like him committed. The violence question is interesting especially in a nation born of revolution. Were the colonists wrong to fire on the British? especially over taxes that by today's standards are quite low? Were those who resisted Nazis in Europe wrong to use terrorist tactics? I'm not taking the side Mr.Ayers was right just throwing out a different perspective. It does seem to have turned into a debate about his actions, largely through the efforts of those who do not want him to speak.

Quoted from the Casper Star

Quoted from the Casper Star Tribune, Tuesday April 27, Judge orders UW to allow Ayers speech

"Tom Rice, attorney for the university, argued the school only denied Ayers the use of one particular facility. Lanker testified that she was told by a UW lawyer on the phone that the entire campus would not be available, and the same message was conveyed in a follow-up e-mail.

"The court need not take Lanker's word -- the substance of that conversation was confirmed in an e-mail," Downes said."


Why, if these supposed threats were made against the college, did they not inform the police? Seems to me that the college caved to those who opposed his visit and were attempting to use fear as justification to deny free speech. I am tired of the fear tactics that have been used, primarily since 2001, to deny our rights and have their way with us.

There truly is nothing to fear, but fear itself.

Not that I don't agree with Free Speech but...

I would find it interesting if the University actually did lose money from this decision. At that point could the school sue the state for compensation due to the ruling? If possible and they did win a lawsuit then the "people of the state" would be "paying" for Mr Ayers to speak. Honestly I would like to see it play out that way, it would be very symbolic of the direction our legislative and judicial system is taking this country.
The people don't want the speech, a few individuals feel it isn't "right", state allows the speech to go down, state has to assist school financially for losses, people of the state pay extra to make up for lost income to school, a small minority of individuals effect what is best for the majority of the people.

You don't seem to be up on

You don't seem to be up on your Constitutional Law. Speech is a highly protected right; a much higher standard is required for the state to restrict speech than many other rights.

So are you saying that a few individuals with "deep pockets" should get to dictate how the University is run?

Also, keep in mind that our system is set up to avoid a "tyranny of the majority." You can't trample on the rights of a minority group just because a majority has a different opinion. If you live in a state that allows for direct voting, and the majority of the people want to make it legal to enslave a minority, say anyone who is a Lutheran, or anyone who, say says they support free speech but obviously only supports it when it accords with their beliefs, this type of law enslaving the minority would not stand up in Court and be struck down. This is an extremely important component of our system--

I don't understand why people get so worked up about some guy giving a speech? Are you really that afraid and insecure?

"I don't agree with a word you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." Voltaire

I don't believe you are

I don't believe you are actually up on your Constitutional law. The key here is the venue of his speech and how it will be funded. The constitution does not protect the venue, only the speech.
I am amazed that you believe financial influence does not exist in the University, I find your statement ideological and very naive.
Once again I go back to the venue at which the speech is taking place, a state funded school. Certain minority opinions have been removed from school systems, an example such as prayer. This isn't because the majority is attempting to "enslave" the minority. It is merely because there is a time and place for certain actions and events, a state funded school isn't the PLACE.
Much of our society reads into what "free speech" means and how it can make our country a better place.

First, please refer to my

First, please refer to my prior comments--UW barred him from speaking anywhere on campus. Also, your opinion is in contrast to what the judge ruled--do you believe you know more about Constitutional Law than the judge? You can restrict certain speech on your private property, but the school is primarily a public institution. Yes, they may have restrictions about speakers using their facility, but I believe that if you have certain standards and requirements, they have to be applied equally to all. I don't know exactly how this works.

I would also like to ask why you are assuming I am "ideological." If you think I am "ideological" because I believe in the principal of free speech, then I guess I am ideological. It seems you may be thinking that because I think he should be allowed to speak, that I agree with him--I don't know what basis you are using to assume I am ideological. Just because I think Ayers should be allowed to speak, says nothing of whether I believe or agree with anything he says. He was on Public Pulse--do you think Kim in any way agrees with him? However, that is not the point. The point is listening and talking to people we may not agree with via rational debate.

I'm not positive what your

I'm not positive what your trying to say about "free speech vs venue" but it sounds like you’re talking about measures the defeat First Amendment rights. The DNC and RNC attempted this in the last election and I believe it is set to be ruled on by the Supreme Court. Your attack on ones constitutional rights could be viewed as treason, lucky for you very few people stand up for the protection of Constitutional law.

Prayer has been removed from

Prayer has been removed from school for entirely different reasons---you are conflating apples and pineapples.

Prayer was removed from

Prayer was removed from public school systems based on separation of church and state, my point was merely that not everything is appropriate in a publicly funded venue. I am happy that Kim Love interviewed Mr. Ayers, like I support much of the choices Sheridan media makes. I believe an interview with Mr. Ayers on Sheridan Media is the perfect place for him to push his ideas about improving education. At this point if Mr. Ayers has valid ideas and concepts that improve our educational system then those ideas will and can be brought into the discussion. I do no however believe that the state funded school is the ideal platform for Mr Ayers to push his values due to his character.
As for the judges decision to allow the speech, yes I believe the judge made a poor decision. I will make it my effort to research prior decisions made and continue to watch future decisions. If I find that I continually disagree with decisions made then I will make an attempt to bring to light this judges influence and look for support to remove that influence.

What you are saying is

What you are saying is completely backwards. It is because the University is a public institution that he must be allowed to speak--people have the right to choose who they allow to speak in privately-owned venues, but not on public (ie owned by the people via the government) venues. Of course, the university can limit who they have speak, but if you apply certain standards, you must apply equally to all. Just because a few donors don't like the content of what Mr. Ayers said several decades ago, does not justify them silencing him.

Also, to help with your research on the judge who made the ruling, here is a quote from the Casper Star-Tribune:

While William Downes was a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, William Ayers was bombing U.S. government buildings as co-founder of a militant anti-war group called the Weather Underground.

Downes, now a U.S. district judge, made special note of those contrasting backgrounds when he ruled Tuesday against the University of Wyoming's decision to ban Ayers from speaking on campus.

"This court is of age to remember the Weather Underground. When his group was bombing the U.S. Capitol in 1971, I was serving in the uniform of my country," Downes said. "Even to this day, when I hear that name, I can scarcely swallow the bile of my contempt for it. But Mr. Ayers is a citizen of the United States who wishes to speak, and he need not offer any more justification than that."

-----Most of the comments people are making are assuming the law should follow how they FEEL about the issue or Mr. Ayers. This quote from Judge Downes reminds us that our feelings are largely irrelevant (or should be) when applying the law.

Your statement is factually

Your statement is factually wrong--Ayers was ultimately barred from speaking ANYWHERE on campus:

Quoted from the Casper Star Tribune, Tuesday April 27, Judge orders UW to allow Ayers speech

"Tom Rice, attorney for the university, argued the school only denied Ayers the use of one particular facility. Lanker testified that she was told by a UW lawyer on the phone that the entire campus would not be available, and the same message was conveyed in a follow-up e-mail.

"The court need not take Lanker's word -- the substance of that conversation was confirmed in an e-mail," Downes said."

And I never said that I thought financial influence does not exist at the university....please do not misquote me. It does exist, but I think we should draw the line somewhere. If a bunch of neo-nazis wanted to donate 100 million dollars on the condition that we bar Jews of blacks from going to the university, do I think that money should be accepted?

If UW didn't allow Ayers to

If UW didn't allow Ayers to speak at the school it would not be a violation of free speech.
UW wasn't preventing Ayers from saying anything they were merely not providing him a venue in which to speak.
There is no law granting everyone access to an auditorium.

That is incorrect. Ayers

That is incorrect. Ayers was ultimately barred from speaking anywhere on campus--this is confirmed in an email sent to Lanker, you can read it yourself in the transcript of the case.

the people dont want him to speak?

is that the stats or just your opinion? his presentation is about education reform. why wouldnt the people of wyoming want to hear ideas concerning education. i think that is pretty important. whether you agree with his ideas or not at least it starts some discoarse on the subject. of coarse we could except status quo. it is not surprising in such a conservative state. if its broke DON'T fix it. peace


of course it is my opinion.

My opinion is that I don't support any type of gain a man with opinions such as Mr. Ayers can make. I would much rather like to see his failure until he changes his perspective. This especially true when it costs the "conservative" people of the state that I am so proud to defend, fight for, and call home. I honestly feel that if someone believes that the "conservatives" of this state are so limiting then one of the other 49 states or many other countries that have a broader perspective to fit their life will make that person happier. I have and I will continue to resist gentlemen like Mr. Ayers from pushing their agenda in my house and more specifically when there is cost to my home to do it. I have been committed and always will be 100% committed to this cause.
It is my belief that there much better representation of American values that should be entertained by the state and the school. If an individual is interested in what Mr Ayers has to say they can acquire that information from other avenues.

Yes, as you say, "if an

Yes, as you say, "if an individual is interested in what Mr. Ayers has to say they can acquire that information from other avenues." This is true, right now. But if we set the precedent that would have been set by not letting him speak, than it might not be long before those "other avenues" don't exist.

I agree, I mean why don't we

I agree, I mean why don't we just put anyone in prison who has a different opinion than the majority? Or maybe not even the majority.

Man, I miss the days of good ol' authoritarian dictatorships...

Truly a dreadful agenda

What kind of demon would be pushing for better education for our kids?! Monster! Devil! Terrorist! Liberal!

I won't let him speak in my house either!

i am glad Bill is coming

i think it is good for the university and the state to get a little bit of a shackup. it shows how close minded we are. we tend to think with our emotions rather than logic. as Bill said in his radio talk, his speaking doesnt mean andorsment of his ideals. as for his past, while i dont condone the methods they used, it took lots of courage. what if no one had done anything. wouldnt we as a people be guilty of appathy and cowardice. Howard Zinn said " Dissent is the highest form of patriotism " these words where no dought, insired by many statements made by Thomas Jefferson himself about patriotism. anyway his presentation was on education reform. perhaps we should listen or at least bring education of our youth, our future, to the forground. our failing education system is in the news almost daily. just recently i heard the drop out rate in our community was i believe the hightest in the state. perhaps its because they are disalusioned by being taught what to think rather then how to think. peace


I suspect that there isn't a

I suspect that there isn't a person in the state that feels the education system is perfect just the way it is. However I also suspect that the majority of the people in the state would rather have someone other than Mr Ayers leading the discussion on education reform. Hopefully the men and women who represent the Wyoming people are hearing what the majority is saying and understand it will be reflected in our next elections. From there I have confidence that those elected officials will surround themselves with people who are in position to follow the majority's opinion.


Now who is going to show up?

Probably nobody, this is

Probably nobody, this is Wyoming for pete's sakes.


As a person who probably disagrees with about 80% of what Mr.Ayers will have to say I'm glad he will be speaking. Free speech is what makes this country great, not the free seech I agree with but the free speech I don't.


Strong character, morals and values from the men and women of this country is and always has been what makes America great. Mr. Ayers has yet to prove he possesses those traits.

I disagree, morals are

I disagree, morals are relative. Free speech especially but personal freedom in general are our most important vales, and along with the rule of law are what makes this country unique and great. When we get to morals, well who decides? you? the Christian right? the gay lobby? me?

That he does not stand up to

That he does not stand up to your idea of morals and values is relevant because.....??


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