FIRE’s Free Speech Victory at Duke Highlighted in ‘Morning Call’

April 8, 2010

The Morning Call (Allentown, PA) ran an op-ed last Saturday highlighting FIRE’s successful work defending freedom of expression against censorship by the Women’s Center at Duke University and in other cases. Charles D. Snelling writes:

I belong to an organization called FIRE — Foundation for Individual Rights in Education — that is a vitally needed defender of free speech, which is under assault in many if not most colleges and universities.

Readers may remember the infamous order at Lehigh University after 9/11 that the American flag would not be displayed on the college’s buses. [link added]

Nor is this sort of outrage a rarity. Just last week, the Duke University Women’s Center canceled with virtually no notice an event scheduled by Duke Students for Life simply because the center didn’t want this pro-life group to have freedom of expression.

FIRE raised a public stink and Duke backed up, telling the pro-life group that ”mistakes were certainly made that should not have occurred” and that the Women’s Center had ”taken steps to ensure that such an incident would not happen again.” Now let’s be clear on one thing: I am a woman’s pro-choice advocate and my wife and I were some of the founders of Planned Parenthood of Eastern Pennsylvania. It makes no difference that I disagree with the viewpoint of the pro-life students. Their right to advocate their point of view should be beyond dispute, especially at a place like Duke.

FIRE has won scores of federal lawsuits [he should have said publicity campaigns; FIRE does not litigate, though we do coordinate lawsuits] against colleges and universities that have punished and sanctioned constitutionally protected free speech by both faculty and students.

It is refreshing to see Mr. Snelling rise beyond partisanship to support the rights of those with whom he disagrees. That’s exactly the spirit of the First Amendment. Thanks to The Morning Call for once again bringing attention to FIRE’s work.

Schools:  Lehigh University Duke University

Cases:  Duke University: Women’s Center Cancels ‘Motherhood’ Event