Republican gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Wis., issued a statement Tuesday directly condemning the University of Wisconsin for not firing Kevin Barrett, a controversial lecturer who drew nationwide media coverage to UW this summer.
Barrett caused a media-frenzy and a stir in the Capitol after making contentious remarks on public radio suggesting the Sept. 11 attacks were orchestrated by the Bush administration.
Barrett had slipped out of the limelight since the beginning of the fall semester, but both the media and the legislature are turning their attention toward him once again, this time concerning a lecture Barrett is scheduled to hold Oct. 1 on the UW campus.
"For far too long, Kevin Barrett has been allowed to propagate his libelous theories at the UW, and this time he'll be doing it in front of a worldwide audience," Green said is his statement.
The "worldwide audience" Green refers to is viewers of the British Broadcasting Company, which will be taping Barrett's lecture. UW Provost Patrick Farrell said the BBC requested to tape Kevin Barrett's lecture — "Islam: Religion and Culture" — but the university denied the media powerhouse's request.
Farrell said he is not concerned about Barrett's lecture causing a commotion.
"I think what you're hearing now from a variety of individuals is more controversy than the discussion is likely to draw," Farrell said.
However, Farrell said he does not know the subject of Barrett's upcoming discussion because UW does not censor its speakers.
"Allowing someone to speak is content-neutral in that we don't want to screen for content or bias," Farrell said. "We allow the sponsoring department to tell us that this, in fact, has academic value, and (do) not screen any further for academic viewpoints."
In his statement, Green said Barrett's upcoming lecture is "a slap in the face" to families who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11 attacks and an insult to Wisconsin students and taxpayers who pay Barrett's salary.
Furthermore, Green spokesperson, Luke Punzenberger, said if Green were elected governor, he would not have "a gentleman like Mr. Barrett teaching our students."
"Elect me governor, and I'll inject some Wisconsin common sense back into the University of Wisconsin," Green said in the statement.
Farrell said it is unfortunate that the gubernatorial candidate is using Barrett's employment at UW as "a pawn in his election campaign."
Farrell added that he expects Barrett to be respectful to his audience and that Barrett's lectures this semester have been going smoothly so far.
"It's going very well," Farrell said. "He's making his students work hard, and I'm not complaining about that."