FIRE President Greg Lukianoff at Museum of Sex

By June 4, 2013

On May 14, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff visited New York’s Museum of Sex to speak with The New York Times’ John Tierney about how the Departments of Education (ED) and Justice’s (DOJ) May 9 "blueprint" letter exacerbates the problems Greg discusses in his book, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate. Greg reviewed some of the more egregious campus policies that existed even before the ED and DOJ declared that "sexual harassment" includes speech that is not objectively offensive—including policies prohibiting "expressions deemed inappropriate" or "inappropriately directed laughter." It’s no wonder that according to one survey conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, only 40% of freshmen, 30% of seniors, and just 18% of professors strongly agreed that "it is safe to hold unpopular opinions on campus." With the ED and DOJ threatening to withhold funding from universities that do not expand their definitions of sexual harassment to include constitutionally protected speech, those numbers are bound to decrease. Students and professors are justified in feeling nervous that their schools might enforce sexual harassment policies against those who express controversial opinions. As Greg noted, "These systems cannot exist without double standards, because when you look at the plain language of these speech codes, everyone’s guilty of violating them."  Check out a video of the rest of the conversation between Lukianoff, Tierney, and event attendees on Reason’s website.

Cases: Departments of Education and Justice: National “Blueprint” for Unconstitutional Speech Codes