New FIRE Video on Vigilante Censorship Promotes Release of ‘New Threats to Freedom’

By on May 17, 2010

Tomorrow, Templeton Press’ new book New Threats to Freedom hits bookstores. To mark the release of this volume, which features original essays from a wide variety of noted authors including playwright David Mamet (of Glengarry Glen Ross fame), journalist Christopher Hitchens, author Christina Hoff Sommers, and many others, FIRE is releasing a brand new video featuring one of the main cases covered in FIRE President Greg Lukianoff’s own chapter of the book, “Students Against Liberty?”

We need your help getting the word out about the video!

The video highlights the case of Washington State University student Chris Lee, an African-American student playwright whose parody musical, The Passion of the Musical, poked fun at just about every conceivable racial, religious, ethnic, and sexual identity group. A very loose parody of the Mel Gibson movie The Passion of the Christ, Lee’s musical revealed an intense passion for censorship among Washington State administrators, who actually paid for 40 student hecklers to attend and even showed them how to disrupt the musical. This shameful episode predictably devolved into death threats being shouted from the audience, repeated interruptions, and a warning from the police that they would not prevent the audience from rushing the stage and attacking the cast if the musical continued.

To top off the university’s incredible disregard for the rights and safety of its students, the then-president of Washington State, V. Lane Rawlins, praised the hecklers’ behavior by saying that they “exercised their rights of free speech in a very responsible manner by letting the writer and players know exactly how they felt.” That’s how far too many of the people who are in charge of our campuses today believe dissenters should be treated—and we need to make sure as many people know it as possible.

FIRE is therefore asking our supporters to help us get the word out about our new video as well as the new book, which editor Adam Bellow points out is a much-needed “attempt to reinvigorate an old discourse about freedom that went out of style with the Cold War.”

How can you do this? First and foremost, if you have a blog or are a member of Twitter, Facebook, or other social networks, consider posting a link to our video—this video needs to be seen by as many people as possible!

Second, you can “like” the Facebook page for New Threats to Freedom (and don’t forget to “like” FIRE’s Facebook page as well).

Finally, please consider buying the book and recommending it to your friends—you and they are certain to find plenty that will be of interest, or that might even get your blood boiling! With your help, FIRE’s video and the book can bring this much-needed warning about new threats to freedom—on campus and off—to as many people as possible.

Schools: Washington State University Cases: Washington State University: Administrative Support for Heckler’s Veto of Student Play