For over a generation, shocking cases of censorship at America’s colleges and universities have taught students the wrong lessons about living in a free society. Drawing on a decade of experience battling for freedom of speech on campus, First Amendment lawyer Greg Lukianoff reveals how higher education fails to teach its students to become critical thinkers by supercharging ideological divisions, promoting groupthink, and encouraging an unscholarly certainty about complex issues.
Lukianoff walks readers through the life of a modern-day college student, from orientation to the end of freshman year. Through this lens, he describes startling violations of free speech rights: a student in Indiana punished for publicly reading a book, a student in Georgia expelled for a pro-environment collage he posted on Facebook, students at Yale banned from putting an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote on a t-shirt, and students across the country banished to tiny “free speech zones.” But Lukianoff goes further, demonstrating how this culture of censorship is bleeding into the larger society. As he explores public controversies involving Juan Williams, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, and Larry Summers, along with campus uproars in which Dave Barry and Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” played a role, Lukianoff paints a stark picture of our ability as a nation to rationally discuss important issues. Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate reveals how the intolerance for dissent and debate on today’s campus threatens the freedom of every citizen—and makes us all just a little bit dumber.
Greg Lukianoff is an attorney and the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Boston Globe, in addition to dozens of other publications. He is a regular columnist for The Huffington Post and has frequently appeared on television, including the “CBS Evening News,” “Fox & Friends” and “Stossel.” He received the 2008 Playboy Foundation Freedom of Expression Award and the 2010 Ford Hall Forum’s Louis P. and Evelyn Smith First Amendment Award on behalf of FIRE. He is a graduate of American University and Stanford Law School.