By Eugene Volokh at The Washington Post
Greg Lukianoff, head of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, has posted the transcript of his response to Commissioner Michael Yaki’s questions (which seem to suggest that college students should have fewer free speech rights because their brains aren’t well-developed enough) at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hearing:
I’ve rarely heard that argument made so directly. Essentially, just to summarize it, the way I’ve heard it made in the past is essentially that what we’re really saying is that 18- to 22-year-olds are children. And they must be therefore treated the same way as K through 12 are. They can’t handle the real world. They can’t handle the duties of citizenship. It’s an argument that I’ve definitely heard.
And if you’re saying that basically we should—that maybe below-graduate-level study should be ruled the same way high school students should be — I would disagree with you.
But that’s definitely an argument that people should make that straight out, but you run into a couple moral and philosophical problems with that.
One of them is the moral and philosophical underpinnings of the 26th Amendment. Essentially, we have decided in this country that 18-year-olds … that is considered the age for majority.
We also send our 18-year-olds to war. Unless you’re actually also willing to make the argument that nobody below the age of, I don’t know, 22 should go to war, and we repealed the 26th Amendment, we’ve got a serious problem.
I just want to make one last point, and do not forget that some of the greatest contributions of colleges and universities come out of their graduate and Ph.D. programs. And so what I’ve watched is people try to argue that because of the presence of some 15- to 16-year-old super-geniuses at some of these campuses, that we should be therefore limiting speech on college campuses, forgetting that [that] would also limit the speech of 45-year-old Ph.D.’s.
Sounds generally quite right to me.