John Stuart Mill wrote that in any argument there are only three possibilities: being wrong, being partially wrong, or being wholly correct. And every possibility is improved or strengthened by freedom of speech and inquiry.
Freedom of conscience means the right to arrive at one’s private beliefs without being coerced into an artificial unity by those who wield power over us. After all, the freedom to speak is a dead letter if one lacks the freedom to think, to believe, or to disbelieve. At the heart of American liberty lies a recognition of individual rights, individual responsibility, and individual dignity. Over one’s inner mind, conscience, and self, no one should have coercive power.
If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.
FIRE’s Guide to First-Year Orientation and Thought Reform on Campus contrasts the legitimate purposes and intentions of campus orientation sessions with current practices and effects, revealing how these sessions have evolved in frightening fashion in the hands of college administrators. This text is only available digitally.
Vague or ideologically motivated DEI statement policies can too easily function as litmus tests for adherence to prevailing ideological views on DEI, penalize faculty for holding dissenting opinions on matters of public concern, and “cast a pall of orthodoxy” over the campus. Universities have a variety of ways to advance their visions of DEI without infringing their constituents’ individual rights.
FIRE’s core defense program provides free assistance to individual students, professors, student media, and campus groups whose fundamental civil liberties are violated.
FIRE’s college Policy Reform team works to proactively and systematically challenge campus policies that violate students’ and faculty members’ free speech and due process rights.
Facing a university investigation? Have officials refused to share evidence or follow fair procedures? FIRE’s lawyers may be able to help.
FIRE advocates for individual rights at both the state and federal level by advocating on behalf of rights-protective legislation and against proposed laws that threaten student and faculty due process rights.
Learn more about how FIRE advocates for your rights.
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