FCC Commissioner: College Campuses Prime Example of Where Free Speech Most Threatened

February 16, 2016

In an interview published Monday by the Washington Examiner, Ajit Pai, a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), warned that the “cultural values that undergird” the First Amendment are imperiled, citing college campuses as an example of a concerning trend.

Pai told the Examiner:

I think it’s dangerous, frankly, that we don’t see more often people espousing the First Amendment view that we should have a robust marketplace of ideas where everybody should be willing and able to participate.

Largely what we’re seeing, especially on college campuses, is that if my view is in the majority and I don’t agree with your view, then I have the right to shout you down, disrupt your events, or otherwise suppress your ability to get your voice heard[.]

Pai’s comments echo those of President Obama, who in September criticized recent trends on campus, including disinvitations of controversial speakers and demands for “trigger warnings” on course materials.

FIRE agrees with Commissioner Pai’s concerns. It is particularly concerning that college campuses, rather than serving as a shining example of freedom of expression and inquiry, immediately come to mind as places where inquiry and expression are increasingly imperiled.