Letters from readers …
The original right-wing speaker ban law was despicable. The new left-wing de facto speaker ban law that is enforced by intolerant students is equally despicable but probably more effective. They were 100 percent successful in terminating Congressman Tancredo. They were less successful in terminating Congressman Goode’s remarks, and the chancellor gave himself an ill-deserved pat on the back for “minimizing” the abuse directed at the speaker.
But as far as I can tell, all “controversial” (i.e., “well-known conservative”) potential speakers have understood the “message” and now avoid UNC like the plague. So apparently the new speaker ban (oops… speaker discouragement) law is quite effective.
Here is a thought experiment: What would happen if a few conservative women students invited Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann to make a joint appearance at UNC to give a presentation on their perspectives on “women’s issues” and they accepted the invitation? The chancellor would probably have to ask Gov. Beverly Perdue to activate the national guard to prevent another “Tancredo,” but if UNC is really a “liberal” university, why should that be necessary?
I challenge UNC to PROVE ME WRONG.
James M. Westall ’73 (PhD)
Although I am pleased that a marker commemorating the fight against the Speaker Ban Law is going to be placed on the stone wall adjacent to Franklin Street, and that it will include the names of the 12 students who filed the lawsuit that led to the law being overturned, I regret that it will not include at least three other names:
Bob and several other students who held key student positions had agreed to be plaintiffs in the suit but missed the opportunity to participate because their terms expired before it could be filed.
Hugh Stevens ’65
I concur with Hugh Stevens ’65 that three names are notably absent and should be added to the list of 12 protesting the speaker ban – Chancellor Aycock, UNC alumnus McNeill Smith and Student Body President Bob Spearman.
George Ingram ’66
I read “Speaker Ban Marker to Be Placed on ‘The Wall'” (June 2011) with great interest. The Speaker Ban Law, which so afflicted UNC just as I graduated in 1963, was news when I returned from study abroad in 1965.
In 2005, when I first read Gene Nichol’s article in the Alumni Review, I apparently did not read the picture captions, because when my wife read it, she quoted something stirring someone said at the time and asked me if I could place who it was. I could not say, although the sentiments about democracy and free speech did sound vaguely familiar. As it turned out, I was quoted beneath one of the photographs. The quotation may have been from a statement I sent to the Speaker Ban Commission in 1965 or from a pamphlet the News Bureau put out on me when I graduated in 1963.
Had the law been in effect just a little earlier, the UNC Foreign Students Board, and I as its chair, would have been in violation of the law because we had just had a deputy secretary of mission from the Soviet Embassy on campus to speak. He, of course, was a card-carrying party member, else how did he get his job.
I went away to Oxford and thought little of the law, but I felt I was in a time warp when I returned two years later to find the University and the state aflame debating the law. With little else to do in the summer of ’65, waiting to go to law school, I attended the hearings on the Speaker Ban Law, which were televised statewide.
My strongest memory of the hearings is a little unusual. A now-retired Kenan professor and friend, a native of the state, brushed aside my parsing of the law and politics, saying words to the effect, “You know the law’s supporters are going to lose! Look at their faces on television. They look mean-spirited and small.”
Looking even more closely at the captions, I see that Jock Lauterer ’67 took the now-classic photograph over the wall that your article reproduced. It splashed over two pages at the front of Nichols’ article. Jock Lauterer went on to found a weekly newspaper in my hometown, Rutherfordton, and publish a book of photographs of Rutherford County faces (Wouldn’t Take Nothin’ for My Journey Now).
Fred Anderson ’63
Chevy Chase, Md.
Richard G. Elliott Jr. ’66 (LLB)
Key Largo, Fla.
Neal Jackson ’65
Church Hill, Md.