Tag: Fire

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:

Are College Campuses to Blame for the Explosion of Social Media Outrage?

 

I just finished reading Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed which has been getting a ton of press ever since it came out in March. All throughout the book I couldn’t help but see the correlation between the modern social media outrage machine and what colleges seem to be teaching their students.

I posted a review of Ronson’s book over at The Huffington Post, but I wanted to share a snippet of it with my fellow Ricochet readers to see what you think:

Ithaca College Student Government Considers Anonymous ‘Microaggression’ Tracking System

 

prevent-snoring-tape-mouthThere is a chilling resolution that is currently under consideration by the Student Government Association (SGA) at Ithaca College, a private university in upstate New York. The resolution, which has the support of many SGA members, seeks to target so-called “microaggressions” on Ithaca’s campus by creating a tracking system that students can use to anonymously report incidents of perceived bias on campus.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, a microaggression is a slight against another person—intentional or not—that is perceived to be discriminatory based on the snubbed person’s race, ethnicity, gender, class, or practically any other characteristic that one might think of. Princeton University students have called microaggressions “papercuts of oppression.”

For my latest op-ed at The Huffington Post, I tackle this resolution because I see it as part of a broader trend on campus to create what I’ve called “a war on candor.” As I write in the piece:

Must Read: University Ex-Admin Alleges She Was Pressured to File False Harassment Claim Against Faculty Critic

 

Ever since FIRE launched its Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project last summer, I have been telling everyone to keep an eye on the Chicago State University case. And last week, we were able to learn a little more about why the Chicago State administration needs more public scrutiny. As the Chicago Tribune reports:

The president of Chicago State University tried to pressure a high level administrator to file false claims of sexual harassment against an outspoken professor to help the college try to silence him, according to court documents filed Thursday as part of an ongoing lawsuit. In a sworn statement, LaShondra Peebles, the college’s former interim vice president of enrollment and student affairs, said before she was fired that President Wayne Watson pushed her to accuse Phillip Beverly of sexual harassment, though Peebles said she was never harassed.

FIRE’s Worst for Free Speech Spotlight: Brandeis University

 

And now for the final installment of my Ricochet-exclusive spotlight on FIRE’s “worst” list for campus free speech in 2014. For my third and final spotlight, I want to introduce readers to the single college that has made the worst list more than any other college (finally edging out Syracuse University, which is a twotime recipient of this dubious honor). Here’s the entry for Brandeis:

Brandeis University

Do You Think “Liberals Are Stifling Intellectual Diversity on Campus?”

 

Ricochet readers, I’d like your help. Next week, I’m doing my first ever Intelligence Squared U.S. debate defending the following resolution: Liberals Are Stifling Intellectual Diversity on Campus. This may strike some readers as a little surprising, as you all know FIRE not only defends people all across the spectrum, but also employs people across the spectrum (not to mention I myself identify as a political liberal, as does my debating partner Kirsten Powers). But, I have also never hidden the fact if you’re going to be censored on campus these days, it’s far more likely that you’ll be censored from your left.

Ricochet readers in the D.C. area should come in person. Those who can’t attend should tune in online. The winner is determined by how many people decide to change his or her vote, and given that I’ll be doing this debate at George Washington University, I wonder how many will be willing to do that!

What Were Your Favorite Books of 2014?

 

Back in early January, I was just about to publish a list of some of my favorite books of 2014 when the free speech world exploded due to the horrible murders in Paris. I wrote a little bit about my thoughts on the issue for The Huffington Post about a week later, pointing out that the decision not to publish the Mohammed cartoons almost a decade ago may have been a fateful error. I decided to put off my review of books 2014 until today.

As you can see, like I do all my book reviews, I try to focus on how the book’s arguments or findings relate to my work defending free speech on campus and in the larger world. In this case I focused on The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self—Not Just Your “Good” Self—Drives Success and Fulfillment. The book is fascinating, as it argues for the psychological benefits of “negative” emotional states. It took me 2000+ words to do the book justice, but I thought Ricochet readers might like this excerpt:

Ricochet’s Greg Lukianoff on the State of Free Speech in America

 

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), helmed by Ricochet’s own Greg Lukianoff, recently hosted a panel discussion at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia about “The State of Free Speech in America.” 

Greg was joined for the discussion by Stanley Fish of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, University of Chicago Law School Professor Eric Posner, and Jonathan Rauch of the Brookings Institution. National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen moderated the debate.

Protip from Dartmouth Student to UCSB and Stanford: Run Over Free Speech with Your Car — Greg Lukianoff

 

Being offended is what happens when you have your deepest beliefs challenged. And if you make it through four years of college without having your deepest beliefs challenged, you should demand your money back.

I have been saying that in speeches on campus for more than a decade. Even though the line often gets a laugh, the idea that students have a “right not to be offended” seems more entrenched on campus than ever.