Today, FIRE presents a timely new video featuring Brookings Institution senior fellow Jonathan Rauch. In the wake of last week’s horrifying attack on Charlie Hebdo in France, Americans and Europeans are rediscovering the importance of unfettered expression. In the interview, which was taped last year but not released until now, Rauch explains how the Salman Rushdie affair of the 1980s and the West’s “watery, weak” response to it inspired him to write his landmark book, Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought. Rauch also sheds light on the damage hate speech laws (which are common in Europe, including in France) can do to minorities, and he argues that free speech is their best weapon against oppression.» Read More
Today, FIRE released a new video that chronicles Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project plaintiff Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle’s fight for free speech at Citrus College in California. As Torch readers may recall, Sinapi-Riddle’s troubles with Citrus College began September 17, 2013—Constitution Day—when he asked another student to sign a petition protesting the National Security Agency’s surveillance program outside of the school’s designated free speech zone. A campus administrator at Citrus threatened Sinapi-Riddle with removal from campus for engaging in this conversation outside of the “free speech area,” which comprises just 1.37 percent of the Citrus campus.» Read More
Today, FIRE is proud to announce the release of our newest video, an interview with legendary critic and civil libertarian Nat Hentoff. In the interview, recorded this past April at his New York City residence, Hentoff explains the unique power of the First Amendment, discusses his lifelong love of jazz, and emphasizes the importance of FIRE’s work on our nation’s campuses.» Read More
Last December, I wrote here on The Torch about a University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) professor’s repeated sexual harassment complaints against independent student newspaper The Sun Star. Two articles prompted the complaints: one satirical April Fool’s Day article about a “a new building in the shape of a vagina” and one investigative piece on the “UAF Confessions” Facebook page. After FIRE wrote to the university in January explaining the danger to a free press created by UAF’s months-long investigation into the newspaper’s protected expression, the investigation finally concluded with the correct outcome.» Read More
Citrus College in California, like many other colleges and universities around the country, enacted policies to quarantine student speech to a tiny—and unconstitutional—“free speech area.” Last year, student Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle was even threatened with removal from campus by an administrator for asking a fellow student to sign a petition protesting NSA surveillance of American citizens outside the college’s “free speech area.” That’s why FIRE announced a lawsuit against Citrus College this July, challenging this policy and others that limited free speech on campus. The college has put enforcement of its unconstitutional speech codes on hold while litigation is in process. In this new video shot yesterday, Constitution Day 2014, you can see the result: not a chaotic campus, but one where students are free to express themselves and engage in real debate and discussion.» Read More
A week ago today, FIRE launched its Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, coordinating lawsuits against Chicago State University, Ohio University, Citrus College (Calif.), and Iowa State University. At a press conference in our nation’s capital, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff, attorney Robert Corn-Revere, and several student-plaintiffs explained why litigation is necessary to fight back against censorship on campus. If you haven’t watched the press conference yet, I urge you [...] » Read More
Today, FIRE has released a new video chronicling the struggle for free speech at Modesto Junior College (MJC) in California, where student Robert Van Tuinen was famously prevented from distributing copies of the U.S. Constitution, on Constitution Day, no less.
Much of the case’s narrative is probably familiar to FIRE supporters by now. Van Tuinen sued MJC, eventually receiving a $50,000 settlement, and MJC agreed to revise its policies to eliminate the requirement that students obtain permission for their expressive activities from MJC and the [...] » Read More
As the problem of sexual assault on college campuses gains increasing attention nationwide, members of Congress are exploring ways to prod universities into better handling sexual assault accusations. Unfortunately, some lawmakers are glossing over the question of due process for accused students, seeking to compel universities to use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard in sexual assault cases—a weak evidentiary standard that can brand a student a rapist based on a mere 50.01% likelihood of their guilt, as determined [...] » Read More
FIRE’s newest video features Dartmouth College student Robert Smith, who talks about the afternoon a fellow Dartmouth student ran over his organization’s pro-life display with his car. The ironic twist? The car was sporting a “Coexist” bumper sticker on the back.» Read More
On most college campuses, the student newspaper is entrusted with reporting on issues important to the campus community and with holding powerful campus authorities accountable. But after the student newspaper at the University of Memphis found its budget slashed by $25,000 because the student government and university administration didn’t like the paper’s critical, investigative reporting on their activities, The Daily Helmsman’s role as a campus watchdog was threatened.
Chelsea Boozer was editor-in-chief of the Helmsman when the paper’s budget was cut in May 2012. In FIRE’s latest video, Boozer talks about the events leading up to the paper’s funding cut and how the actions taken by [...] » Read More