A Silver Lining for Free Speech

December 21, 2015

By Jenna A. Robinson at National Review

This year has brought some dismal news for supporters of free speech.

The William F. Buckley Free Speech Survey revealed that today’s college students have little appreciation for freedom of action and conscience. Sixty-three percent of students are in favor of “trigger warnings.” By a 52-42% margin, students say their college or university should forbid people from speaking on campus who have a history of engaging in hate speech. And a shocking 72% of students surveyed said they support disciplinary action for “any student or faculty member on campus who uses language that is considered racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise offensive.”

This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has followed the news recently. Student protestors at Dartmouth, Yale, and the University of Missouri made it clear that free speech should take a back seat to politically correct thoughts and attitudes.

But FIRE’s Robert Shibley shares a few pieces of good news in today’s article for the Pope Center. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, where Shibley is Senior Vice President, is devoted to free speech, individual liberty, religious freedom, the rights of conscience, legal equality, due process, and sanctity of conscience. FIRE rates universities on their First Amendment protections.

Shibley’s most encouraging revelation for defenders of the First Amendment was that,

In this year’s survey, and for the first time in FIRE’s history, the number of rated schools nationwide that received a red light      rating dropped under 50 percent, with about 49 percent receiving that designation.

Good news indeed.

Schools: Dartmouth College University of Missouri – Columbia Yale University Cases: University of Missouri: Policing of “Hurtful” Speech Yale University: Protesters at Yale Threaten Free Speech, Demand Apologies and Resignations from Faculty Members Over Halloween Email