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Liberating America’s Intellectual Gulags

April 15, 2005

David French knows what intimidation is. French, the new President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, graduated from Harvard Law School in the early 1990s. One might say that anyone with similar credentials ought to know the definition of intimidation – but French’s experience is a bit more personal than that.“As a pro-life, Christian conservative, I received death threats in my campus mailbox, was shouted down by students and (once) was even shouted down in class by my own professor,” he says about his years in Cambridge. French now spends much of his time explaining to university general counsels that being “offended” by another’s views is not intimidation – a distinction that might seem obvious but is apparently not so on today’s campuses.Although unintentionally, French’s work with FIRE most often causes him to defend conservatives and Christians like himself. As any reasonable observer of the modern academy knows, conservatism and Christianity are far from majority opinions on campus – which is a polite way of saying that adherents of those schools of thought are often perceived the same way as circus animals in the larger culture.But that is not a problem worthy of FIRE’s attention – the organization has no political or religious orientation. French’s second-in-command, attorney Greg Lukianoff, is an outspoken liberal. French’s assistant, program officer Ebony Burris, characterizes herself as an “atheist Christian” and displays an anti-Bush button in her office; her fellow program officer Minnie Quach is a devout Muslim with reliably left-of-center political views. Indeed, FIRE’s office display infinitely more diversity than any university faculty lounge... Download file "Liberating America"

Schools: Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania State University of New York – Brockport Louisiana State University – Baton Rouge Citrus College Rhode Island College Le Moyne College Texas Tech University University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill Tufts University University of Alabama Cases: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Denial of Freedom of Association for Christian Fraternity State University of New York at Brockport: Speech Code Litigation Citrus College: Speech Code Litigation Shippensburg University: Speech Code Litigation Texas Tech University: Speech Code Litigation