The Wrong Kind of Renaissance: A New Age of Campus Censorship


shutterstock_141582367When I published my first book, Unlearning Liberty, in 2012, I felt optimistic that the situation for free speech on campus, though not good by any means, was improving. A lot of the campus censorship efforts had become less ideological and more of the old-fashioned, “Don’t you dare criticize my university” type of censorship. Even the scourge of campus speech codes seemed to be eroding—albeit very slowly in the face of Herculean efforts.

Still, I knew from experience that things could turn around—and, sadly, turn around they have. In the last two years, the intense political correctness of the late 1980s and early ’90s has returned with a vengeance, and we are now experiencing the wrong kind of renaissance.

Yesterday, I examined the contributing forces to this “renaissance” in my latest essay on Minding the Campus. As I write in the piece:

The first sign that things were about to get much worse came from the Department of Education when it issued its famous “blueprint” for harassment policies in a settlement with the University of Montana in 2013. In that agreement—proclaimed by the Department of Education and the Department of Justice as a “blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country to protect students from sexual harassment and assault”—the agencies defined harassment in a way that would be laughed out of court if challenged.

And the blueprint is not the only contributing factor to the campus censorship renaissance. As I argue in my latest book, Freedom From Speech, students are increasingly demanding freedom from speech they dislike rather than freedom of speech:

Perhaps we’ve reached a kind of critical mass of students raised to believe not only that they have a “right not to be offended,” but also that “safety” means not a lack of danger, but rather something more like perfect emotional comfort—or even the right not to be exposed to words or ideas that upset you.

Head over to Minding the Campus to read my whole essay on the resurgence of campus speech-policing and then let me know what you think.

Published in Education, General
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  1. user_348375 Inactive

    Greg, that essay is a good summary, using frightening examples to illustrate.  It brings to mind the canary in the coal mine, unfortunately.  If students are frightened of civil discourse, then they are internally weak and uneducated, so off the perch they go.

    Your work exposes one of the most powerful tools the socialists and Progressives have used against the culture of Western civilization; capture, poison and neuter the educational process.  Lord Obama’s Federal lackeys are leading the way now.  You have an uphill battle, my friend.  Stay strong.

    When this generation scurries toward their fainting couches, who will oppose the barbarians?

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  2. user_278007 Inactive

    It’s time to start applying rigorous speech controls to college administration documents.  For example, I have it on good authority that many colleges and universities commonly use the phrase “white paper.”  Use of the word “white” is clearly racist while the word “paper” implies the wanton destruction of trees and the rape of our natural environment.

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