Tag: Unlearning Liberty

Amazon.com is currently offering pre-orders for the paperback edition of Unlearning Liberty—at a steep discount. The new edition will be released on Tuesday, March 11, and will feature new content not found in the hardcover edition, including a picture section and an afterword from Greg. Order your copy today to take advantage of Amazon’s amazing deal!

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.

Colleges in the United States and the United Kingdom share many great similarities, but an unflattering commonality they share is a tendency to censor what they consider offensive ideas. Although students in the UK don’t enjoy the same First Amendment protections as US students do, the principles that make free speech so beneficial and practical are universal.

 In response to six student union groups across the UK banning Robin Thicke’s hit song “Blurred Lines” this semester, Sam Dumitriu of The Mancunion, the UK’s largest student newspaper, recently interviewed Greg about Unlearning Liberty and his thoughts on colleges’ censoring potentially offensive material, like “Blurred Lines.” In the interview, Greg notes that,

 “Being offended is what happens when you have your deepest beliefs challenged, if you make it through four years of university without having your deepest beliefs challenged, you should ask for your money back.”

Greg goes on to say that pro-censorship student unions would do well to remember this important point. Check out the full interview here.

Over the summer, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff sat down for an interview with TheBestSchools.org, an independent organization dedicated to covering issues in higher education and empowering individuals with a wide variety of resources to make prudent decisions regarding career and educational opportunities. The interview covers Greg’s early influences motivating his work in the First Amendment and civil liberties, his inspiration for writing Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate and the book’s central themes, and how Greg sees the future of higher education.

Here is a preview of Greg’s interview:

TBS: We found your book, Unlearning Liberty, to be frankly inspiring. It not only documents a large number of astonishing abuses, it also models throughout what civility in public discourse ought to be—through its fairness, its scholarly care, and above all its calm and even tone, which is maintained throughout, even when rising occasionally to genuine eloquence. Could you start by telling us what your chief aim was in writing the book?

GL: Thank you for your kind words about the book! I knew writing a book would be a challenge, but it was even more challenging than I expected.

I wrote the book for a number of reasons. First, I wanted a place to gather and relay a sampling of the shocking cases of censorship and violations of basic rights on campus I’ve seen in my decade with FIRE. I needed one place to demonstrate the scope and scale of the problem and, even though I only cover a tiny percentage of the cases I have seen over the years, I don’t think any reader would say I was short on examples.

Second, I aimed to explain why this matters, not only on campus, but also in how it affects our entire society. And finally, I wrote the book to raise awareness about the issue of censorship on college campuses and about FIRE. The kind of cases we deal with on a daily basis at FIRE should be well known in every household in the United States, but, sadly, they are not. Unfortunately, these days the media pay too little attention to stories of censorship that would have been front-page news to an earlier generation.

This wide-ranging interview provides an incisive analysis of the origins and implications of the censorship movement in higher education and highlights a number of cases demonstrating ‘unlearning liberty’ in an engaging video format.

Check out the full interview here.

 

For the 17th year in a row, the First Amendment Center has published a national survey of American attitudes about the First Amendment. Here is one of the key findings of the just-released survey:

Higher percentages of young Americans tend to agree with the statement that the First Amendment goes too far in the rights that it guarantees. Forty-seven percent of 18-30-year-olds agree, while 44% of 31-45-year-olds, 24% of 46-60-year-olds and 23% of people over 60 agree that the First Amendment goes too far.

As FIRE President Greg Lukianoff writes in his book, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate, “campus censorship … teaches students the wrong lessons about living in a free society,” and these survey results give stark evidence that this observation is true. Such a misunderstanding of the crucial role that free speech plays in a pluralistic society is troubling news for our republic.

View the full survey results here.