Sandy Hingston, Senior Editor at Philadelphia Magazine, recently wrote an article chronicling the past 20 years of political correctness on today’s college campuses. Hingston deftly examines the broader anti-free speech trends by sampling from a range of cases and prominently features Greg Lukianoff, Unlearning Liberty, and FIRE in her piece:
[Greg] posits that political correctness has hamstrung free speech, resulting in a society where citizens lack the “experience of uninhibited debate and casual provocation” that keeps minds open and dialogue flowing. People lose their jobs because of jokes and misinterpretations; they’re hung out to dry in public when they misspeak; they quake in fear of being accused of “disrespect.” Those who dare question whether these offended parties have actually suffered harm are shouted down by the hurt-feelings “sensitivity” industry and social media and news organizations trolling for hits. And the costs of disagreeing with the PC guardians ratchet ever upward—costs that all of us pay.
The article is thought-provoking, funny, and a great read. Check it out!
In a piece that was covered by The Daily Caller and The Legal Satyricon, Greg discusses the peculiar persistence of Victorian tendencies among campus administrators. He cites numerous examples of cases in which students were the victims of administration’s “selective uptightness” in incidences regarding sex or cursing and how it affects us all:
[T]hese efforts to appease the uptight are doing real damage by harming discourse on campus, impoverishing the marketplace of ideas, and making higher education just a little bit dumber.
Check out The Daily Caller or The Legal Satyricon for the full scoop.
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.
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.