Wendy McElroy Lauds FIRE

December 21, 2005

Friend of FIRE Wendy McElroy has an excellent article on foxnews.com about FIRE’s new Guide to First-Year Orientation and Thought Reform on Campus. McElroy writes:

The Guide is yet another indication that political correctness is faltering on campuses across North America. To those who value the right of individuals to a conscience—that is, to judge right and wrong for themselves—this is welcome news.

McElroy makes the case that political correctness, which she describes as the “belief that certain ideas and attitudes are improper and, so, should be discouraged or prohibited by punishing those who advance them,” has overtaken college campuses, so that scholarly inquiry and intellectual debate have been forsaken in the name of allegiance to political ideology. She explains that when this happens,

[t]he cost to society is high; creativity and intellectual progress wither. The cost to individuals is higher; without competing ideas, people cannot adequately judge for themselves what is true and false, right or wrong, moral and immoral. For me, that private judgment is what constitutes a conscience, to which every human being has an indispensable and inalienable right.

Colleges and universities, however, trample that indispensable and inalienable right when they institute unconstitutional and intrusive regulations on matters of conscience. McElroy continues:

The ability of students to judge for themselves is restricted by limiting the ideas upon which those judgments would be passed. In turn, this impoverishes the quality of conscience.

FIRE’s new Guide—the fifth in a series of ideological survival manuals for college students—describes both the manner in which the right of conscience is being attacked on campus and how the tide is turning toward individual rights.

Three common ways in which universities limit a student’s access to ideas are speech codes, mandatory ‘diversity’ tests or training, and ‘non-discrimination’ policies.

McElroy also gives a shout-out to FIRE’s work to defeat unconstitutional speech codes at universities across the country, our condemnation of “dispositions” criteria to enforce a campus orthodoxy (as in the Ed Swan case at Washington State), and our defense of religious organizations’ right to govern themselves according to their own principles. She then concludes:

The right to judge for yourself what is true and false, what is right and wrong is a prerequisite for both freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The right of conscience is the bottom line of personal liberty itself. And it is being reasserted.

You can get your own copy of the new Guide on FIRE’s website.

Schools:  Washington State University Harvard University Princeton University