The free speech debate rages on

Oct 25, 2012

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UC Berkeley campus Credit: Getty Images

College is where you go to expand your mind, right? At least, that’s what the free speech revolution of the sixties taught us. But in the years since those heady days of sit-ins, protests and flag-burnings, barriers to that basic right have been creeping up at campuses all over the country.

Indeed, a series of isolated incidents, taken as a whole, might point to an all-out assault on the principal of free speech: a theater professor disciplined for posting a TV show poster on his door. Students at Yale banned from putting an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote on a T-shirt. “Free speech zones” enforced on campuses. Even at the bastion of the free speech movement, the University of California at Berkeley, officials have recommended a “no hate speech” policy that some say borders on censorship.

Should institutions of higher learning be policing extreme religious views, hate speech and unpopular politics? Are we sending students the wrong message about speaking their minds? Could a culture of censorship in America’s colleges and universities bleed into rest of society? How do you respond to views you disagree with?


Greg Lukianoff, author of “Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate” (Perseus Books); attorney and president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

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