Greg writes in The Huffington Post a response to Erika Christakis’s recent observations about college and university students’ increasing reluctance to push back against statements or ideas with which they disagree.
When we refuse to even have conversations on divisive issues, we help create a culture that fosters silence instead of exploration and innovation. New ideas cannot flourish and progress cannot be made in a society that fears talking it out.
Greg praises Christakis’s insight and joins her in saying to today’s college students: “‘Be offended. Get hurt once in awhile. Make your case.’ Don’t get into the habit of staying silent.” Check out his full response here.
FIRE President Greg Lukianoff was featured on CNET commenting on a French lawsuit filed against the social media giant Twitter. Student groups in France upset over recent anti-Semitic tweets are seeking to punish Twitter under French hate speech laws. However, as Greg argues, this action is dangerous and ultimately counterproductive:
In order to be an effective mirror to global society, Twitter thinks of itself primarily as a platform and does its best to get out of the way. Therefore, we know things we simply would not know otherwise-from the trivial to the serious. The people who want to scour mass media and cleanse it of all hateful or hurtful opinions miss that their purge would deny us important knowledge. Simply put, it is far better to know that there are bigots amongst us than to pretend all is well.
Greg explains how First Amendment principles dismantle common arguments against free speech from academics who “paint themselves as a beleaguered, enlightened minority struggling against the unquestioned dogma of free speech.” Greg demonstrates how allowing individuals to freely express their views-even when distasteful or offensive-is a far healthier way to address social division than suppressing people’s speech. You can read the whole thing over at CNET.
Recently featured on The Huffington Post is FIRE President Greg Lukianoff’s review of Slate Senior Editor Emily Bazelon’s new book, Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. Overall, Greg offers high praise for Bazelon’s book:
[Bazelon] approaches the topic with an uncommon thoughtfulness and sobriety. She shows little interest in oversimplifying the problem and applies lawyerly and journalistic skepticism to a topic that badly needs clear, careful thinking.
He goes on to point out how our culture is often too quick to surrender our personal liberties during great moral panics. Greg believes that Bazelon’s thoughtful and measured response to bullying makes her book an invaluable contribution to the national discussion of this divisive topic. Check out Greg’s review here!
Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate was selected for this week’s “Book Talk” feature on the American Constitution Society’s (ACS’) website. As part of the feature, Greg wrote an article detailing some of the most memorable cases he’s seen in his 11 years fighting against censorship on college campuses with FIRE, ranging from “the absurd to the serious.” He talks extensively about the Hayden Barnes case, which opens the book, as one of both the most absurd and the most serious examples of campus censorship run amok.
Greg also discusses why campus censorship is an important issue. In particular, he notes how students internalize bad intellectual habits as a result of campus policies that punish students for “offending” others in the course of debate. This trend threatens all of us, Greg argues, as these habits accompany graduates into the real world, where they are increasingly enclosing themselves in “cyber realms of like-mindedness” and ideologically homogenous neighborhoods.
Pay our friends over at ACS a visit and check out Greg’s article!
The Hoover Institution’s journal, Defining Ideas, offered a ringing endorsement of Greg’s book, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate, in a recent review:
His lively book is at once a relentless exposure of the intellectual intolerance institutionalized in higher education, and a passionate defense of the value of free thought and expression.
Defining Ideas reviews numerous examples from the book and concludes that universities are often not the “marketplace of ideas” they sometimes publicly claim to be.