Over at Ricochet, Greg talks about Harvey’s influence on his career and the importance of Harvey’s work. Greg writes:
Harvey is a mentor to me and the person who hunted me down in my post-law school life in San Francisco to bring me to FIRE way back in 2001. Harvey has been doing criminal defense and free-speech-on-campus work for decades now and is one of the foremost advocates for reforming the criminal justice system. His latest book, Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent, discusses the explosion of federal criminal laws that are becoming increasingly broad and vague.
In the interview, Harvey touches on his alma mater, Harvard, his work, and what “liberal” means. Harvey continues to serve FIRE and promote students’ rights as Chairman of the Board of Directors.
For today only, the Kindle edition of Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate is on sale for $2.99! BUY HERE. (All proceeds go to FIRE).
The 20th anniversary of another book dedicated to free inquiry was an opportune time for Greg to write in The Huffington Post about how Jonathan Rauch’s Kindly Inquisitors was instrumental in Greg’s own book, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate. Greg recounts how what Rauch dubs the “Offendedness Sweeptakes” is a game we all inevitably lose:
Of the many side effects of this retreat from free speech that Rauch predicted 20 years ago, one was that if we privilege feelings over free speech and allow claims of offense to slow or stop meaningful discussion, people will naturally abuse this ultimate trump card. In the end, the societal bar for what is “offensive” will simply get lower and lower. This “offendedness sweepstakes,” as Rauch has called it, does not take long to produce terrible or, often, absurd results.
Greg goes on to show and provide examples how the “right not to be offended” carries devastating consequences not only on campus, but also around the world. Read the whole article here.
Halloween on college campuses is becoming risky business. Over at Ricochet, Greg details how every year, like clockwork, administrators in higher education take it upon themselves to police the sensitivities (read: restrict the expressive activity) of their students during Halloween. Greg demonstrates how colleges’ attempts to prevent “offensive costumes” (often with threats of punitive action) are actually teaching students the wrong lessons about their rights. With tongue in cheek, Greg recalls his favorite example from over the years:
At the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), we’ve become accustomed to yearly campus kerfuffles over “insensitive” Halloween costumes. My favorite over the years comes from Syracuse University, which has twice topped our list of worst schools for freedom of speech. In 2010, Department of Public Safety Chief Anthony Callisto warned students, “If we detect that there’s a person with an offensive costume, we’d likely require them to remove it, and we would file a judicial complaint…There are costumes that could be very offensive to members of protected class communities.” There are so many things wrong—and creepy—about the thought of campus police demanding that students immediately remove their sexy Pocahontas costumes, but only some of them are related to free speech.
Check out the whole article here and the follow up here.
In a recent controversy at Dixie State University, a student group has been told that it may not use Greek letters in its name. Dixie State claims that restricting the expressive rights’ of its students is acceptable because the university has a “compelling interest” in avoiding a perception as a “party school.” Greg weighs in at the The Huffington Post today and explains how Dixie State is not alone in trampling students’ rights in attempts to undermine Greek life on campus:
Dixie State’s creative approach to keeping Greek organizations off campus is not surprising to those of us who work in student rights. Earlier this year, FIRE became involved at Trinity College in Connecticut after the administration instituted a new social code that requires opposite sex membership quotas for all campus groups and prohibits selective membership. Since most national fraternities and sororities are single-sex by charter and selective by nature, this effectively expels such organizations from campus. Trinity’s approach is one of the sneakier ways I’ve seen a college to try to placate former-Greek donors but at the same time undo the college’s Greek system. In contrast, Dixie State’s war on an entire ancient alphabet is remarkably direct.
Here is the whole story and here is a video of the controversy.