By Ginni Thomas at The Daily Caller
“The battle over free speech is not partisan,” says a proud liberal whose organization helps a wide variety of clients facing free speech threats. He has spent fifteen years in the field as a fearless advocate who worked at the ACLU before coming to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
Greg Lukianoff, the President and CEO of FIRE, starts this 20 minute video interview for The Daily Caller by assessing global issues. “The international situation for freedom of speech is dire,” says Lukianoff, focusing on the emergence of blasphemy laws to not offend Islam.
This harks back to a previous Daily Caller interview with Steve Coughlin, author of “Catastrophic Failure,” who discussed the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Ten Year Program of Action to make Islamic speech codes the global speech standard. In America, this would entail making free speech conditional on not defaming Islam, a religion of less than 1 percent of the US population.
Lukianoff co-authored a popular article, “The Coddling of the American Mind,” in The Atlantic recently
He believes our society’s timidity is teaching college students to magnify and personalize problems, or to engage in all or nothing thinking. A campus or culture’s mistakes here, he says, could actually be damaging to mental health.
Worrying that political correctness “is back with a vengeance,” Lukianoff’s organization is constantly amazed at free speech challenges.
Citing examples, Lukianoff mentions a student who was stopped from handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution on Constitution Day. For another student who was shut down for protesting against the NSA, Lukianoff says, “I think Orwell would think that was ridiculous.”
At UCLA, “criticizing affirmative action,” “saying America is a melting pot” or “you got a job because of merit” are viewed as hostile micro-aggressions, he says.
Using the word “crazy” at Smith College was seen as problematic, an “able-ist slur.”
Worried that as a culture we are able to surround ourselves with our own echo chamber, Lukianoff offers suggestions for how to practice tolerance for views you object to, as listening can stimulate improved abilities.
College “outrage culture” has gotten so bad that comedians are deciding not to perform at colleges, as explained in the new documentary Lukianoff helped make, “Can We Take a Joke.”
The free speech advocate ends his interview mentioning how censorship can bring the left and right together.
For more on Greg Lukianoff, see their website, their Facebook page, his books or follow his columns at The Huffington Post.