A recent editorial in The Daily Barometer, the student newspaper at Oregon State University, picked up on the absurdity of FIRE’s recent case at Marquette University where the chair of the philosophy department, Dr. James South, removed a quote from humorist Dave Barry from a graduate student’s office door because South found the quote “patently offensive.” The quote read:
As Americans, we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.
If the quote doesn’t seem adequately nocuous to create any sort of fuss, that’s because it isn’t. The editorial described FIRE’s efforts to demonstrate this incident as part of a wider trend of censorship on college campuses and the increasing tendency of universities to act as partisan institutions where “battles over academic freedom, censorship and free speech are common…where political correctness is sometimes made more important than Constitutional rights.” This statement is easily verified by FIRE’s enormous case archives on not only free speech, but other constitutional rights including religious liberty, freedom of conscience, and due process and legal equality. It is a trend that has to stop. Quoth the Barometer editorialists:
Universities, of all places, should be mandatory free speech zones. Meanwhile, Prof. South at Marquette should learn from his mistake and apologize for disregarding free speech. Plus, he should probably start reading Dave Barry.