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FIRE President Discusses His New Book and Future of Free Speech in Cato Podcast

By August 19, 2014

FIRE President Greg Lukianoff joined Trevor Burrus and Jason Kuznicki on the Cato Institute’s “Free Thoughts” podcast yesterday. Through a freewheeling discussion, the trio discussed intellectual diversity, the role of censorship in polarizing American life, and troubling new developments in the attitudes of students. On that last point, Greg discusses his forthcoming book, Freedom from Speech, and says:

I’ve spent my career defending the rights of students, primarily, and I’ve been generally optimistic and pleased with them. They were generally much better on speech issues than professors or administrators, by a long shot. But lately, over the last six or seven months, I’ve seen a lot of pushes motivated by students to get restrictions on speech, or to get speakers disinvited, or to add trigger warnings to [class material]. … It’s completely wrongheaded.

But while recent trends may be disheartening, Greg believes there’s reason for hope:

Freedom of speech works. It’s a very effective system for figuring out truths, big and small. It’s usefulness will far outstrip any alleged benefit of suppression. That’s my big hope: Free speech is a working, brilliant system that will go on because of its inherent value. But it’s going to require people constantly reminding the population.

For more, including insights into the history of free speech, the inverse relationship between comfort and freedom, and the most laughably unconstitutional speech codes FIRE has challenged, check out the full podcast on libertarianism.org. And don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Greg’s new book, Freedom from Speech.