‘Twas a few nights after Christmas, and at FIRE HQ…

December 29, 2020

‘Twas a few nights after Christmas, and at FIRE HQ,
Philly’s office was silent, the D.C. one too.
The workers were nestled all snug in their rooms,
With visions of co-workers still muted on Zoom.

When what to our wondering eyes should appear,
But this magical poem to review FIRE’s year.

In January we named the worst colleges for free speech,
Where the students are censored and the teachers can’t teach.
Scranton and LIU Post had censorial presidents.
A Babson adjunct was fired for joking about the Kardashian residence.
Saying an offensive word at UConn became an actual crime,
And Harvard made our list — for a stunning fifth time!
And then, up to New York, our staff made the commute,
To give the Lifetime Censorship Award to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

In February we defended a student at Truman State,
Who sought help from FIRE when she couldn’t create,
An animal rights group to defend chimp and cheetah,
Because the admin denied it for associating with PETA!
Then FIRE stepped in with a letter from IRDP,
She got her club and we got on TV.

In March we shuddered as COVID arrived,
But while university doctors worked beyond 9 to 5,
NYU placed its faculty under a gag order,
“You’ll be fired,” they said, “if you talk to a reporter!”
That was our 26th letter this year, however,
We’ve now sent over 200, a record — most ever!

In April a professor named Jeff was kicked off his courses,
Fired for political posts! But we said: Hold your horses.
The school paid a settlement for being so thick,
Then Jeff literally held his horses, just look at this pic.

Jeff Klinzman and horse


Our next report found that colleges keep blacklists galore,
Banning words on social media like “Nazis” and “poor.”
No “Clinton”! No “Trump”! No “chicken” or “delay”!
No “resign”! No “dickweed”! No “fire” or “Harambe”!
They blocked hundreds of words, they made a bad call.
Words dashed away, dashed away, dashed away all.

May’s Title IX reforms were a victory for our due process mission,
We secured student protections and SCOTUS’ sexual harassment definition.
Due process—how it twinkles! Without it — how scary!
Higher Ed can’t adjudicate crimes like the judiciary!

Then on campuses in June; there arose such a clatter!
With almost 300 case submissions, we knew something was the matter.
More rapid than eagles the cases they came,
But FIRE followed up with each submitter by name.

Then FIRE fought for the right to protest — hooray for free speech!
While defending professors teaching the way they wanted to teach.
When colleges were wrong on the Constitution, FIRE set them straight,
And we notched a big victory for a student club at Worcester State.
We defended Title IX regulations from due process pretenders,
And cheered Harvard’s loss in banning clubs of single-genders.

As the summer went on, more violations non-stop,
A student who made Trump his Zoom background faced a “decision making workshop.”
And we chastised Fordham, perennially unaware,
After they punished a student for commemorating Tiananmen Square.

Our Student Network made toolkits to encourage free speech and debating,
While our Policy Reform team gave six more colleges “green lights” — our highest rating.

September, October our caseload increased,
And we released the largest survey on college students’ free speech,
Lewis & Clark faced FIRE’s objections to mandated racial segregation,
As St. John’s punished a professor for discussing slavery in conversation,
Wuhan Flu” jokes, music theory journals, — censorship knew no bounds,
And just when we thought we’d defended it all — here comes gay Charlie Brown!

And we can’t forget FIRE’s documentary, too.
“Mighty Ira” — about the former head of the ACLU.

Ira Glasser of Mighty IRA

November was marked by two litigation hurrays,
One at Jones College, one at UCLA.
Our Spotlight report showed how your alma mater rates,
Then a big legislative win in the Buckeye State.
Ohio got rid of an evil FIRE never condones,
As the 18th state to ban so-called free speech zones.
Greg’s blog, The Eternally Radical Idea, was created,
While our work with faculty continued unabated.
We defended free expression at home and abroad,
Tracking how China’s restrictive speech laws are horrendously flawed.

We produced dozens more episodes of our podcast, “So to Speak,”
And FIRE’s high school essay contest is coming — the deadline’s this week!

And just like that, this whirlwind year finished,
But we must thank the helpers without whom our work is diminished.
To our donors: Thank you. You’re the reason we won.
Goodbye 2020, and Hello 2021.

And as we continue on campus defending fundamental rights,
Happy New Year to all! Thanks for fighting these fights!