Recently I had the privilege of attending the premier of the “Indoctrinate U,” a documentary that exposes the widespread suppression of conservative and libertarian opinions on America’s college campuses. Turns out, the same 60s and 70s radicals who marched for free speech back then aren’t so interested in the concept now that they’re running academia.
This is a great film and a very necessary one as well. I was so impressed by it that I wanted to interview its creator, Evan Coyne Maloney. We had an in-depth and candid discussion about a variety of things including how he got interested in film, getting funding for it, the background behind campus speech codes, how the media covers academic censorship and much more.
The most interesting aspect of the interview was his discussion of why there are so few conservatives and libertarians in the entertainment media. Read past the fold for excerpts and the full transcript.
I think that part of the problem is that because people are not used to, on the right side of the aisle, are not used to engaging in the battle of ideas in the realm of film, they simply never think about it. And if they don’t think about it, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. They’re not going to go out and try to give money to people who can do it, they’re not going going to go out and solicit projects for describing this or that idea.
It’s not happening because it’s not happening. It’s kind of a “Catch 22” way of saying it but it’s exactly true. Until somebody breaks through and demonstrates at a hugely successful film that this is a medium that is not the domain of just one point on the ideological spectrum, until that happens, people aren’t going to get it. And after that happens, all sorts of money will come flooding into the industry and people will begin to understand why it’s important to get your ideas out there in the medium of film.
I think that finding financing is probably hard to find for people on both sides of the aisle but for different reasons. I think it’s harder for people on the left side of the aisle because there’s so many people trying to do film on that side so there are a lot of people chasing the same pile of money.
However, I also think that the pile of money on that side is also a lot bigger. I mean there’s no right-wing George Soros handing out millions upon millions of dollars to groups like a conservative MoveOn.org so I think that part of the thing is that people on the right-of-center side I don’t think a lot of the guys who have the money don’t really understand film. I don’t think—I think they probably don’t watch a lot of movies, they are probably generally repulsed by pop culture and even when they’re not, I don’t think they see pop culture or film or any visual medium like television as a realm in which they can compete. And I understand why they feel that way.
They feel that way because every time someone from Hollywood opens their mouth we know that they’re not necessarily sympathetic to our views. And we see the kinds of films that Hollywood puts out about the war and about terrorism and things about that and it’s always coming from one perspective. But I think because of all that, people who are on the right side of the aisle they don’t even understand that they can compete in film.
[T]here is a quote from a guy in the film from a guy who describes himself as a liberal Democrat he is now the president of the organization called FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and they actually defend people whose rights have been trampled on campus. And they are very successful and primarily their task is just to get the stories out. So they’re an example of how shedding light on the problem can be effective.
Now they, the gentleman who is the president of it now his name is Greg Luganov [ph], I interviewed him for the film when he was their head litigant and I asked him that very question. And he said, I didn’t really believe it was happening myself until I became the guy who got the FIRE cases.
So here’s the guy who was a First Amendment specialist, who joined this organization believing there is a problem—I mean obviously he wouldn’t have joined the organization if he didn’t—but he really had no idea how vast the situation was until he became, as he put it, became the guy who got the FIRE cases. You basically phrased it exactly as he did in the film and I think it’s an interesting coincidence because a lot of people don’t believe it until they see the cases. And the cases that we hear about, that’s the tip of the iceberg. We never hear about the cases where people don’t fight back. We never hear about the cases where people go away quietly. I don’t know what percentage of overall cases this represents, the cases that we do hear about, but either way, it means there’s a lot more happening that never hit the media.