Believe it or not, college students across America are already beginning to make their way back to campus. Some are returning to get a jump on their fall semesters. Others are attending orientation programs that are focused on telling them what free speech and due process rights they don’t have rather than informing them of the essentiality of both of those concepts to a liberal education. We here at FIRE are consistently amazed by what we see on a daily basis: colleges cost more than ever and employ an ever-growing army of administrators who too often display precious little respect for students’ expressive, associational, or procedural rights. But in 2012 FIRE plans to push back like never before, especially with the release of my new book Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate.
Unlearning Liberty is the product of 11 years of working at FIRE, watching the systematic abuses of basic rights on campus, and seeing how the illiberal lessons of a university system where you have to carefully watch what you say have bled out into our larger society. It is outrageous that students can be punished for things as harmless as speaking their minds about a campus credit card company, protesting what they see as social injustice, or even just complaining on Facebook about a comment they believed was racist. It is even more troublesome that students are getting used to speech codes and outrageous and unconstitutional restrictions on free speech (for instance, absurd free speech zones that limit student expression and protest to fractions of a percent of campus). Part of the reason I wrote Unlearning Liberty was to warn that this strange new world of higher education, often truly deserving the label "Orwellian," is harming our entire society.
Unlearning Liberty is key to our fall strategy of drawing greater national attention to the gross violations of free speech and due process that are now taken for granted on campus and that affect all of us even if we have not set foot on a college campus in decades. If Unlearning Liberty opens strong in October, it will send a powerful message to campus bureaucracies that speech codes and speech zones have no place on any campus that is serious about the exploration of ideas and the search for truth.
Please help us make Unlearning Liberty a success by pre-ordering at Amazon now (for 39% off!), telling friends to pre-order, and asking your local bookstores and libraries to pre-order the book (and if you use the link http://fir.ee/M7g3Hi, it helps FIRE even more). It’s one of the simplest things you can do to help the cause of free speech on campus and, because all royalties go to FIRE, to help the leading defender of free speech on campus as well. I hope you’ll take some time out of your day to help us send a message to higher education.