Greg Lukianoff on LSU Student’s Hostility Toward Free Expression

September 10, 2013

FIRE President Greg Lukianoff writes for Forbes today to discuss a video and companion piece recently posted by Louisiana State University student Jana King, who laments LSU’s recent revision of a policy that restricted student speech to a 1,000 square foot area on campus called “Free Speech Alley.” As Lukianoff explains, King’s support for abridging students’ constitutionally protected speech is all too common, but it is rare that advocacy for censorship takes such a straightforward and undisguised form. [King] state[s] clearly that [she] think[s] basic political speech could be harassment and possibly deny her a “safe learning environment.” When I tell people the language “safe learning environment” is often used as a code for the supposed right “not to be offended,” they are, ironically enough, sometimes offended by that suggestion. But Jana King has no problem connecting the dots for us. The watering down of what “safety” means on campus is dangerous for all the same reasons that the proverbial boy should not have cried “wolf!” On today’s modern campus, safety equates to comfort, which too often means a right not to hear opinions that you dislike. This is precisely the opposite of what campuses should encourage. King, Lukianoff says, is part of a generation of students that have been systematically taught “how to think like censors and how to apply all the wrong lessons about what it means to live in a free society.” In other words, King and her peers are unlearning liberty. A campus where everyone can express his or her opinion, which would be cited as a shining aspiration to a previous generation, now is presented as a frightening dystopia. Read the rest of Greg’s article in Forbes.

Schools:  Louisiana State University – Baton Rouge