FIRE Co-Founder on Censorship at Tufts and Brandeis in ‘The Phoenix’

By May 17, 2007

FIRE co-founder Harvey Silverglate has a story in this week’s edition of The Phoenix, discussing FIRE’s recent cases at Tufts and Brandeis, where students’ attempts at parody brought grim consequences. The article discusses Tufts’ finding editors of the conservative Primary Source guilty of “harassment” and “creating a hostile learning environment” for publishing satirical articles that offended some black and Muslim students. It also explores how student editors of Gravity, a humor magazine at Brandeis, resigned after printing a satirical advertisement that offended some black students. As the article points out, parody is “an inherently risky art form,” but one that nonetheless deserves protection under the First Amendment. Because the attacks against the student editors in both cases were “almost entirely student-engineered,” Silverglate and Wolfe wonder if college students are “thinner-skinned” than previous generations, in that they are “willing to sacrifice freedom of speech and academic freedom to protect themselves from mere offense, never mind intellectual challenges.”