FIRE in the News: A Look Back at 2010

By on January 4, 2011

Here at FIRE, we’ve always said that colleges and universities can’t defend in public what they do in private, and in 2010 we strove to ensure that all of the outrageous cases we encountered got plenty of publicity.

FIRE started off 2010 with a warning from Greg in Reason magazine that censorship on campus is far from extinct. Greg’s article, “P.C. Never Died,” stressed that speech codes still exist, restrictions are still enforced, and liberty is still very much at risk on campus. This piece set the tone for FIRE in 2010, as we endeavored throughout the year to expose how censorship not only threatens individual victims, but also the larger campus culture.

As part of that effort, both Greg and Robert kept the public up-to-date on our latest news through their columns on The Huffington Post and Pajamas Media, using these platforms to spread word of cases at the University of California, San Diego, Southwestern College, and Washington State University. Greg and Will wrote on the dangers of censorship in Free Inquiry, noting how restrictions on speech stifle open discourse and destroy the potential for debate and discussion. FIRE was also able to highlight some of the key court cases of 2010 with articles like Harvey Silverglate’s review of CLS v. Martinez in the Wall Street Journal and Greg’s piece in The Huffington Post on the groundbreaking federal district court decision in Barnes v. Zaccari. More recently, Adam wrote in the New York Post on the shocking case at Syracuse University College of Law, Robert reported on FIRE’s efforts to make sure that college administrators know the cost of censorship, and Greg stressed the threat posed by the recently proposed Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act in the Congressional Quarterly Researcher. FIRE also appeared on bookshelves this year, with Greg’s contribution to Templeton Press’ book New Threats to Freedom, which brought FIRE’s message to an even larger audience.

When we weren’t reporting on the news ourselves, FIRE was helping to clarify the facts and stress the significance of our cases in some of the nation’s leading publications. FIRE was featured in 67 different publications in 2010 such as The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Washington Post, and San Francisco Chronicle. Greg was interviewed by spiked magazine, hosted for a podcast by The Chronicle of Higher Education, and was featured on Reason TVFIRE also hit the airwaves in 2010, appearing on radio programs like Extension 720 with Milt Rosenberg and the Hugh Hewitt Show, as well as television shows such as MSNBC Live and Fox and Friends. A key example of our media success this year was FIRE’s two separate appearances on FOX Business Network’s Stossel, which featured several students and reviewed some of our most shocking cases.

Appearances on shows like Stossel and articles in publications like the Wall Street Journal helped FIRE reach a larger audience than ever before in 2010. More importantly, FIRE helped expose abuses of liberty at America’s universities and effectively highlighted the bigger picture behind our work—campus censorship has real, long-term consequences for our society. As we begin a new year, we look forward to continuing that work and ensuring that free inquiry and open debate is a valued feature of every college campus.