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FIRE targets censorship with mobile billboards at Georgetown University
WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 21, 2023 — Today the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression kicks off a two-day mobile billboard campaign in Washington, D.C., in which a truck emblazoned with a targeted message will circle the Georgetown University campus. The side of the billboard reads, “Georgetown Majors in Censorship. Help Hoyas Reclaim Their Voices.” The back reads, “Lifetime Censorship Award 2023 Georgetown University.”
The mobile billboard highlights that Georgetown University is the recipient of FIRE’s “Lifetime Censorship Award” after the school took 122 days to determine that a 45-word tweet is protected political speech. The tweet in question was posted by incoming faculty member Ilya Shapiro, who criticized President Biden’s choice of candidate to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. After an unreasonably lengthy investigation, Georgetown decided to reinstate Shapiro, but he declined the offer: The school’s reinstatement letter made clear it would not protect the expressive rights of faculty and students with dissenting viewpoints.
“Georgetown University’s preference for stifling free speech instead of celebrating it made it the obvious choice for our Lifetime Censorship Award,” said FIRE Director of Engagement and Mobilization Connor Murnane. “We hope this campaign shows Georgetown that it should embrace a culture of free speech on its campus.”
This isn’t the first time Georgetown University has shown its zeal for censorship. In 2016 the administration stopped students from organizing for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. They prevented the students from handing out campaign materials and offering information about the primaries on campus. And, for years, the university refused to recognize the pro-choice student group, H*yas for Choice. It argued that doing so would conflict with its Catholic and Jesuit mission, while ignoring its speech and expression policy that explicitly states that only “time, place and manner” considerations can govern “the expression of ideas and sharing of information that is the very life of the university.”
FIRE calls on Georgetown University to cease its censorship of students and faculty.
The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and sustaining the individual rights of all Americans to free speech and free thought — the most essential qualities of liberty. FIRE recognizes that colleges and universities play a vital role in preserving free thought within a free society. To this end, we place a special emphasis on defending the individual rights of students and faculty members on our nation’s campuses, including freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, legal equality, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience.
Katie Kortepeter, Communications Campaign Manager, FIRE: 215-717-3473; email@example.com
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