Writing in The Huffington Post today, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff takes a look back at the year that was in college censorship. As we bid farewell to 2012, Greg recalls the disappointing hostility to free speech displayed by some in the academy:
One of the more distressing developments of this year was the speed and verve with which some academics decried America’s strong commitment to the First Amendment and our substantial free-speech protections in the wake of the Benghazi attack. In the days immediately following the tragedy, many believed the attack was a direct response to a controversial YouTube video. Some academics, including Eric Posner and Anthea Butler, wasted no time seizing this opportunity to proclaim that Americans value free speech too highly.
I spent some time taking these arguments apart in my columns "We Are All Blasphemers" and "Free Speech: Just a Recent Fad?" And certain academics joined me in defending the First Amendment with gusto, including Georgetown law professor David Cole in his piece "More Speech is Better" in The New York Review of Books. But I ended my campaign when it became increasingly clear that the video was not the cause of the Benghazi attacks. Given that even the CIA admits that the attacks on the compound were not a response to that video, I hope professors like Posner and Butler will reconsider their stance. Sadly, I doubt they will; as I have discovered in my work, the idea that we must curtail that nasty First Amendment in the name of other (often shifting) values has a surprising amount of currency in academia — the very institution that, perhaps, most relies on free speech in our society.
Check out the rest of Greg’s 2012 review over at The Huffington Post.