As students across the country head back to school in the upcoming weeks, FIRE is pleased to unveil our new advertising campaign for this year, beginning with an ad on page 91 of this week’s U.S. News & World Report’s ‘America’s Best Colleges’ edition, which debuted on newsstands today.
The ad asks readers to think about the implications of censorship in an academic setting and how restricting speech on campus can result in dire consequences.
Everyone knows Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, perhaps best represented by the famous equation E = mc2. Our ad edits that equation a tad to show readers that censorship changes everything. Remove one component of the equation and you have a completely different situation … E = c2 just doesn’t quite check out. The ad’s fanciful scenario underlines an important point: restrictions on the marketplace of ideas can do serious long term harm to intellectual innovation, social progress, and education.
When a school maintains restrictive speech codes or has established an environment where people are scared to speak their minds, dialogue on campus—academic, personal, or otherwise—is more likely to come to a screeching halt. Individuals, student groups, and publications may be more likely to impose self-censorship or simply remain silent on controversial topics if they fear administrative reprisal for speaking out. We hope that our ad will help remind faculty, administrators, students, and parents that censorship has no place on the American campus.