Sunday, November 8, 2009

Let Ray Luc Levasseur Have His Say

Update: The event is still going on but in altered format & different location. Levasseur was denied travel permission by his parole officer and so will be unable to attend in person. There is some possibility of him giving his talk via video conferencing. The event will be at 7:15pm on November 12th - School of Management, Room #137, University of Massachusetts.

You probably have all heard by now but the folks at University of Massachusetts decided to cancel a talk by Ray Luc Levasseur of the Ohio 7 due to pressure from police organizations and right-wing talk show idiots.

Here's a message from one of the organizers:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Thank you to all who have emailed me in the past couple days to express your support for the lecture "Ray Luc Levasseur: Defendant in the Great Sedition Trial of Western Massachusetts Returns After 20 Years", originally scheduled for Thursday November 12, at 7pm in the UMass Campus Center. Also thank you to those who have contacted Governor Patrick, Chancellor Holub, and UMass Libraries Special Collections to voice your opposition to the event's cancellation under the pressure of police organizations and the far right. Supporters of UMass academic departments' right to hold the event have so far included leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the American Association of University Professors, and world famous historian Howard Zinn.
Amber Eastman Black, a UMass alum, has set up a facebook page entitled "Let Ray Have His Say" to protest the event's cancellation. Please join if you are interested:
Also, for your information, I have attached a letter to Chancellor Holub written by one of my mentors, Prof. George Caffentzis of the University of Southern Maine.
Dan Chard

and here's the letter from Professor Caffentzis:
Dear Chancellor Robert Holub,
I am writing to protest the decision to cancel the lecture "Ray Luc Levasseur: Defendant in the Great Sedition Trial of Western Mass", scheduled for next Thursday November 12 in the UMass Campus Center. I understand that this cancellation was done under pressure of a variety of state police organizations and the incitement of right-wing talk show hosts.
The lecture was to deal with the crime of sedition, an issue that is important to all students of US history--especially in the Western Massachusetts area, the home of Shay’s Rebellion. It was to feature the presence of Ray Luc Levasseur, one of the defendants (who was found innocent) in the country’s last major sedition trial that took place in Springfield in 1989.
I have no doubt that the Levasseur’s lecture and the subsequent discussion would have been the source of knowledge about this trial and more general issues concerning the charge of sedition. We cannot deepen our knowledge of US history without opening the public space in academe to figures who were involved in that very history. Can we in academic life, then, afford to have speakers in practice vetted by state police organizations and right-wing talk show hosts?
I therefore urge you and the officials of the University of Massachusetts--Amherst to reverse the decision to cancel the lecture. Such a reversal would be a sign that the University of Massachusetts has the necessary autonomy to carry on its mission of providing the social space for the creation of knowledge.

Prof. C. G. Caffentzis
Dept. of Philosophy
University of Southern Maine
Please contact Governor Patrick, Chancellor Holub, and UMass Libraries Special Collections and voice your opposition to this silencing of free speech and open critical debate.


Recipes template by Emporium Digital. See more at