Last week, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff was on the West Coast meeting with friends and donors, delivering speeches, and spreading FIRE’s message to new allies. As part of Greg’s trip, FIRE supporter and CEO of Water Entertainment Technologies (WET) Design Mark Fuller hosted Greg at WET headquarters in Sun Valley, California, offering Greg a fun and impressive platform to talk about FIRE’s work and his book Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate. Over 100 people gathered in WET’s Idea Playground to hear Greg speak, pick up signed copies of Unlearning Liberty, and mingle with fellow liberty-lovers. It was an all-around great time.
The man organizing the event, Mark, is an incredibly talented and intriguing businessman, and his company is one of the coolest out there. We are so thankful to have Mark among our supporters. We wanted to share part of his thoughtful introduction of Greg with Torch readers. Enjoy!
On college campuses today students are punished for everything from writing politically incorrect stories to mildly criticizing their college administrations.
Colleges have been able to convince well-meaning students to accept outright censorship by creating the impression that freedom of speech is somehow the enemy of social progress.
That’s horrible—but we are here, not in college. What does this have to do with us? When students leave college with the idea that censorship is OK, even good, it infects the dialogue of our entire country. The tactics that shut down speech on campus bleed into society and inhibit the way we talk among ourselves. To put it bluntly, the blanket of campus censorship silences all of us.
When you surround yourself only with people you agree with and you avoid debate, or even joking with people you fear you might offend, you miss the opportunity to engage in the kind of “back-and-forth” that sharpens your critical thinking skills—something that is essential to being creative and really improving the world.
Greg’s organization, FIRE, is a unique group in which liberals, conservatives, libertarians, atheists, Christians, Jews, and Muslims work together for the common cause of defending rights on campus.
Greg is a Democrat, I am a Republican, Greg is an atheist, I am a Mormon. But we are both passionate about free speech. It is my pleasure to have Greg with us, and to invite you all to support his work—for from it we will all gain richer lives and increased freedoms.
Mark also mentioned how the success of an innovative company like WET Design depends on the free flow of ideas, open dialogue, and the ability to try new things. He highlighted not only the philosophical underpinnings of free speech but also how WET Design illustrated the practical benefits of free expression: improving our lives and enriching our society. Check out WET’s work at wetdesign.com and follow Mark on Twitter at @WETMark!