Reviews

“Modern societies grant their universities many privileges, from subsidized partying for students to lifelong tenure for professors. In return, universities are supposed to be laboratories of ideas, where diverse theories—including new and unpopular ones, which history tells us have some chance of being correct—may be broached and evaluated. In this alternately entertaining and shocking book, Greg Lukianoff shows how modern American universities have abdicated this responsibility. Their bloated bureaucracies, enabled by cowardly leaders and mobilized by politically correct crusaders from the left and the right, have clamped down on free expression, with the tragicomic result that you have far more freedom to express opinions outside a university than within one. Lukianoff is an engaging exposer of this scandal, combining good storytelling with clear principles and a serious purpose with a light touch.”

Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University,  author of The Blank Slate and The Better Angels of Our Nature

“Greg has spent over a decade working to bring the Constitution back to campus. In Unlearning Liberty, he brings to life his many fights with university censors and shows the abandonment of fundamental freedoms on campus for what it is—an issue of grave importance to every single American. Anyone concerned about the future of higher education, the state of national discourse, or the future of our civil liberties should read this enlightening and revelatory book.”

Nat Hentoff, journalist, author of Free Speech for MeBut Not for Thee

“Here’s a book full of sunlight—the best disinfectant for campus censorship”

Jonathan Rauch, guest scholar, Brookings Institution, author of Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought

“Greg Lukianoff’s Unlearning Liberty is destined to be a classic work on freedom in America. His beautifully written account—as riveting as it is distressing—covers all areas of higher education, including student orientation, life in the dorms, speech in the public forum, the conduct of student judicial systems, and learning in the classroom. Lukianoff’s findings should occasion a call to metaphorical arms: rather than teaching the lessons of living as free people, American higher education is doing the opposite. It is encouraging students to “unlearn” the liberty that is their constitutional heritage. Those who care about the fate of our republic must read this important book.”

Donald Alexander Downs, Alexander Meiklejohn Professor of Political Science, Law, and Journalism, University of Wisconsin-Madison, author of Restoring Free Speech and Liberty on Campus

“American universities have been described as islands of intolerance in a sea of freedom. Unlearning Liberty is a meticulous and inspiring guide on how to liberate the islands!”

Christina Hoff Sommers, resident scholar, American Enterprise Institute, author of The War Against Boys

“’Brazenly unconstitutional and hypocritical’ is how Greg Lukianoff, president of FIRE, characterizes the bizarre and even comical restrictions on free speech that have become routine on college campuses over the past few decades. In Unlearning Liberty, Lukianoff uses intelligence, passion, and common sense to describe and denounce the censorship and punitive vigilance that have come to prevail both in the classroom and out. Exposing the incoherent politics that ensue when vigorous debate and dissent are seen as too dangerous, too upsetting, to be tolerated, he shows that being offended is not only the price of liberty but is intrinsic as well to the process of genuine thought and learning. Lukianoff argues brilliantly and with wit for the importance of free expression in a society that hopes to produce free human beings rather than craven conformists. All those who suspect they might one day want to express an unorthodox thought or take an unpopular stance need to read this book. Now!”

Daphne Patai, professor,  Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, University of Massachusetts Amherst, author of What Price Utopia?

Unlearning Liberty shows why free speech rights on campus are more important than ever, and how controversy is still a great teacher.”

Mary Beth Tinker, plaintiff in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District

“Beautifully written and powerfully argued, Unlearning Liberty is a dismaying chronicle of the sorry state of free speech on today’s campus – and beyond. Lukianoff demonstrates how pervasive campus censorship corrodes the intellectual independence that is essential for liberty and democracy to thrive in our larger society.  Most readers will be shocked to learn how even the most respected higher education institutions, while paying lip service to academic freedom, in fact systematically suppress dissent and criticism.  An essential wake-up call!”

Nadine Strossen, Professor of Law, New York Law School, former President, American Civil Liberties Union (1991-2008), author of Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women’s Rights