The horror! FIRE cases and censorship trends reimagined for Halloween

By October 25, 2018

Halloween season is upon us, and with it comes one of my personal favorite hallmarks of the season — horror movies. And this Halloween season is chock full of reboots. (I’m looking at you, “Halloween” and “Suspiria.” Don’t let me down.) In that spirit, we reimagined some of the most terrifying censorship cases and trends we see here at FIRE as horror movie reboots. Now, we didn’t get past a few posters (which will also be featured on FIRE’s Instagram next week) and elevator pitches, but we hope they bring some spooky Halloween cheer … or fear:

“72 Days Later”

In a tonal shift from the “rage” virus zombies of “28 Days Later,” FIRE presents the story of Laura Kipnis and the 72-day Title IX investigation she had to endure for examining campus sexual politics in her articleSexual Paranoia Strikes Academe” for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Sex may be one of the leading causes of death in classic slasher movies, but in this case, just talking about sex got Kipnis in a world of trouble. Throughout the months-long investigation, Kipnis was denied a detailed notice of charges, was told she could not speak publicly about her ordeal, and faced a litany of other due process violations.

“Cube: Escape the Free Speech Zone”

Thought escaping an ever-changing landscape of boobytrapped cubical rooms was horrifying? Try having your speech quarantined into tiny, out-of-the-way areas of campus. No one (probably) will hear you scream. Since FIRE has fought many battles against the use of so-called “free speech zones,” we image this reboot as an anthology recounting the tales of students across the nation. Will administrators ever learn that these zones are patently unconstitutional on public campuses? Will FIRE exorcise the use of free speech zones? Only time will tell…

“Silent Hill University: Season of the Gag Orders”

The sirens in “Silent Hill” haunted audiences (and players of the original video game) when it was first released in 2006. In this reimagining, it will be the silence that haunts audiences. Gag orders, or directives university administrators impose on individuals requiring them to stay silent about a particular issue or event, have historically been used to silence students and faculty. In this reboot, we imagine a group of wide-eyed podcasters (maybe featuring our own So to Speak Podcast host Nico Perrino?) documenting the stories of students and faculty members nationwide who have fallen victim to gag orders while trying to vanquish the malevolent spirit that possesses                                                                                  administrators to impose them.

The Devil’s Reject(ed) Reboot Ideas:

  • “Drag Me to Campus”: The tale of off-campus speech being punished on campus.
  • “Slander Man”: You thought “Slender Man” was scary? Well now try public figures threatening to frivolously sue students and professors for slander or defamation.
  • “Rosemary’s Free Speech Ball”: Rosemary’s baby may have been … a handful to say the least, but in this reboot, Rosemary has to go up against administrators who want to censor what others write on her free speech ball.
  • “Censors from the Black Lagoon”: They’re coming to get you, Barbara … if you publish anything administrators don’t like.
  • “Buffy the Vagueness Slayer”: Can’t tell what your university policy banning “inappropriate” speech means? Buffy (and FIRE’s Policy Reform team) has got your back.
  • “I Know What You Did Last Semester”: Vengeance is sought against student newspaper thieves.
  • “The Sixth Sense: ‘I know it when I see it.’” The story of Justice Potter Stewart trying to identify obscenity.