Interview: Greg Lukianoff of FIRE on Unlearning Liberty

March 26, 2013

It’s relatively easy for college students to avoid getting into trouble via political correctness, campus speech codes and the stifling of free speech. “Talk to the students you already agree with, join the groups that are ideologically similar to you. Don’t disagree with professors who have strong opinions because they might punish you either in grading or just punish you…if you follow these simple rules, you can really avoid a lot of the trouble that we see at FIRE,” Greg Lukianoff, the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, tells me in my interview today.

“But there’s a problem with that,” he’s quick to add. “Talking to the people we already agree with is exactly what’s wrong with our entire society.  And the one institution that could be helping make this problem better is higher education.  But it can’t even come close to working towards that goal if you can get in trouble for having the wrong point of view.”

And these days, as Lukianoff explains during our interview focusing on his new book Unlearning Liberty:  Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate, “having the wrong point of view” is determined almost entirely by students and faculty with a hair-trigger sense of aggrievement. Lukianoff explains that each of the following incidents have led students to FIRE:

● Wearing a t-shirt with an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote.

● Being judged by the cover of the books you read. (In this case, the history book, Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan.)

● Having a bible studies meeting in your dorm.

● Campus officials asking “When did you discover your sexual identity?”

And much more. click here to listen:

(18:35 minutes long; 17MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this segment to your hard drive. Or right click here to download the 5.30MB lo-fi edition.)

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Transcript of our interview begins on the following page; for our many previous podcasts, start here and keep scrolling.