6 Responses

  1. MiltonDValler says:

    Great piece. I am so pleased to learn of a group who are defending free expression in an increasingly censored world, and in all places, academia.

    The Speech Code of the Month Award on their web site makes me wanna scream.
    “any behavior or conduct that is injurious, or potentially injurious to a person’s physical, emotional, or psychological well-being” Oh Man, oh man! Forget the 1st Amendment. If I hear “God Bless America” or “Jesus is my Savior” or “Allahu Akbar” one more time, my emotional, or psychological well-being will be in serious trouble.

  2. Todd_J_B says:

    I was hoping for The Humanist to push Lukianoff a little harder on the difficult-to-define boundaries between free speech on the one hand and harassment and other actions that perpetuate systemic injustice on the other. I agree that unpopular views deserve their place at the table, and I don’t doubt university policies can hinder diversity of views or that universities (like any other organization) may fail to respect due process, so I appreciate the work FIRE does in that regard.

    What remains under-discussed in the interview, however, is that universities need to both protect free speech and act against harassment. Lukianoff briefly mentions his definition of harassment, “a pattern of behavior targeting someone,” but then quickly moves on to talk about how anti-harassment policies “eventually” become over-broad and unjustly applied.

    Anti-harassment policies need not always descend into abuse, and Lukianoff’s appeal to a slippery slope here is troubling. We’re much better off critically reviewing and revising our policies than seeing them as inherently flawed by some sort of anti-free speech original sin. If harassment exists, and based on my experience as a university instructor I would say it does, then the goal is to define policies that can attend to harassment without impinging free speech.

    As I agree with both The Humanist and Lukianoff on the value of encountering a diversity of views, and, given the ongoing problems with harassment and prejudice in the freethought community, I look forward to The Humanist offering in a future issue a different view that considers the depths of systemic prejudice and the difficult work needed to counter it.

    • stewdebi says:

      Bravo Todd! A need in our society to define the differences and educating
      to bring about understanding …;-)

    • Doug B. says:

      I think it is pretty clear that if someone is accused of harassment then they should be afforded due process and the accuser should have to prove the person’s action(s) were harassment. In may cases like those mentioned in the article the person is accused and punished without even being allowed a chance to defend themselves.

      • Todd_J_B says:

        I agree, which is why I said, ” I don’t doubt … that universities (like any other organization) may fail to respect due process, so I appreciate the work FIRE does in that regard.” Institutions should respect due process. When they don’t, it’s good that there are advocates like FIRE to support those denied due process. I think we can support due process and work toward social justice without one being used to subvert the other.

  3. Bradley Reeves says:

    Kudos to Greg and the whole FIRE organization but you’ve really got to give credit where it’s due – Bush-era neocons set back free speech a generation on college campuses. It’s too bad orgs like this are needed to raise awareness of a right guaranteed by law. I wonder how much of their work nowadays stems solely from social media? Yey, progress.