Reason Features FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff, ‘Can We Take a Joke?’ (VIDEO)

By April 8, 2016

Reason is highlighting FIRE issues with their latest video.

Nick Gillespie, Editor in Chief of Reason.com and ReasonTV, recently sat down to ask FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff about trends in campus speech, the latest headline-making controversies (the recent disinvitation at Williams College, and protests over “Trump 2016” chalkings at Emory University, to name a few), as well as the upcoming release of the FIRE-supported documentary Can We Take a Joke?

Reason writes:

Lukianoff, who co-wrote a well-received article for The Atlantic titled The Coddling of the American Mind, believes the problem may stem from a lack of understanding and appreciation of the First Amendment.  

“Freedom of speech is really a sophisticated concept,” says Lukianoff. “We are so used to it in America that we sometimes forget just how sophisticated it is. Meanwhile if you have a K-12 environment or a parental environment when people are explaining that free speech is just the argument the bully, the bigot, and the robber baron make—that is morally persuasive. And if no one has ever explained to you otherwise, of course you are going to think that free speech is the mean person’s argument.”

While Greg says that “this is one of the worst years for campus free speech that I’ve seen in my entire career,” there are some positive updates to provide—at least with regard to Emory—since the interview took place March 30th.

Torch readers will remember that we broke the news later that same day that Emory University President James Wagner wrote a pro-free speech message in chalk in response to the controversy over Trump 2016 chalkings. Student and alumni groups have also come together asking the university to more formally commit to protecting speech on campus.

Something positive every free-speech loving person can do to effect change: force yourself to confront uncomfortable ideas.

“If you’re intellectual,” Greg said, “you should consider it a duty to seek out smart people with whom you disagree. We could do a lot to combat this trend.”

You can check out the full video of the interview over at ReasonTV.