Friday, October 01, 2010

The Words Live On

You might dedicate your book to your spouse, your children, or someone of importance in your life. If you're a child of privilege and wealth, you compose your dedication in a way that's intended to draw more attention to yourself and underline your status as a spoiled brat with influential parents who bought you out of trouble.

The words that you wrote as a cocky douchebag don't go away as you mellow with the years and drift into obscurity. If you're Bill Ayres, former Weather Underground radical, you find that the dusty old words still carry their sting.

In spite of Mr. Ayres' past involvement in bombing government buildings, he was able to land a job as a professor at the University of Illinois's Circle Campus in Chicago. His daddy was a close personal friend of the first Mayor Daley, and Circle Campus was Daley's pet project.

Like anyone else with clout, Ayres got a job he otherwise wouldn't have gotten, and he behaved himself and taught education (Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.).

The time has come for retirement and Billy wants what he considers his due. Since his father ran Commonwealth Edison, that which he believes is his due is whatever he demands.

Christopher Kennedy sits on the University board that determines whether or not retiring faculty get emeritus status and therefore get to use the library. It was his father who was gunned down by Sirhan Sirhan, who just happened to be mentioned in the dedication of Bill Ayres old book from the 1970's.

Mr. Kennedy, it seems, didn't forget the insult to his father, to have a book dedicated to a murderer with the murderer labeled a political prisoner. No to emeritus status, he said. Mr. Ayres isn't deserving of the privilege.

Now the faculty's Senate Executive Committee at the Chicago campus are grumbling and asking the board to reconsider. It's a personal matter between Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Ayres, they believe, and should have no bearing on emeritus status. Why, it's a conflict of interest. Mr. Kennedy used an emotional cudgel to beat the board into submission and get a unanimous no.

The honorific is to be based on merit, after all.

And the point of the UIC Senate Executive Committee is?

No comments: