People often mention the “dog days of August.” Supposedly it’s a long, hot month during which most people are on vacation and nothing really happens, especially in the media. But it seems Greg Lukianoff, FIRE’s director of legal and public advocacy, didn’t get that memo. Dog days or not, Greg managed to author three important op-eds that are now being published—in Inside Higher Ed, the Boston Globe, and the Chronicle of Higher Education—just as many students are heading back to their campuses and, unfortunately, having their rights violated.
Greg’s Inside Higher Ed article (co-written with FIRE summer legal intern Azhar Majeed) discusses college administrators’ frequent abuse of the “threat” exception to the First Amendment to punish speech they don’t like. Case in point: the current controversy at William Paterson University, where a 63-year-old Muslim student was convicted of “harassment” because a professor felt “threatened” by his religious objection to homosexual activity. (On a side note, the authorship of this piece also shows the incredible opportunities FIRE’s internship program offers to enterprising young students like Azhar.)
In the Globe piece, Greg enumerates several quite misguided court decisions that came down this summer. Most prominent is Hosty v. Carter, which is currently being appealed to the Supreme Court. FIRE and the Student Press Law Center are leading the charge against Hosty and are seeking allies—interested organizations should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The piece also mentions FIRE’s ongoing case at Occidental College.
Finally, Greg is in the current edition of the Chronicle participating in a debate on “the campus chill.” As he correctly points out:
Some would like to imagine that the excesses of “political correctness” are ancient history, but repression in the name of tolerance hasn’t gone anywhere. Oppressive speech codes are not only still around—they have actually multiplied, even after numerous court decisions declared them unconstitutional.
He goes on to cite several FIRE cases, of course. You can read the rest here.
Greg is also working on an annotated version of the articles, with notes and links to resources, which should be ready soon.