The Augusta Chronicle ran an editorial praising FIRE’s work and mission on Saturday. In "Held to the FIRE: Foundation crusades to stamp out absurd assaults on free speech," the paper’s editors argue that the campus revolutionaries of the 1960s, now often in power at U.S. universities, seek "free speech for themselves, but not for anybody else." Thus, "this is what has given rise to political correctness and speech codes." All too many schools, the editors argue, "are overtly opposed to free speech, open inquiry and controversial discussions. This…is inimical to the mission of higher education."
One correction is in order, though: FIRE does not take universities to court. We are not a litigation organization. FIRE succeeds remarkably well simply by pointing out—sometimes privately, sometimes to the general public—a school’s moral, contractual, or legal obligations not to violate individual or group rights. We seldom need to contact the attorneys in FIRE’s Legal Network, but once we put someone in contact with an attorney, all the legal work is outside FIRE’s purview. In case after case, it is public indignation or the prospect of public outrage, not legal action, that enforces the rights every citizen should be able to enjoy. Colleges and universities often know when they are in the wrong, and as we frequently say, they cannot defend in public what they attempt in private.