Fighting campus speech-codes with FIRE
By: Greg Halvorson
Speech-code.Â Sounds like something from George Orwellâ€™s pen or a Stephen King tale, but itâ€™s not.Â According to Adam Kissel, from the Foundation of Individual Rights in Education, two-thirds of college campuses enforce speech-codes, violating the 1st amendment rights of their students.Â Thanks to FIRE, however, codes are being challenged, speech is alive, and awareness is being raised.Â While two-thirds isnâ€™t good, this is down from a shameful nine-tenths, and each day, with FIREâ€™s help, administrators are relenting.
Kissel, at CPAC, explained how codes work.Â Theyâ€™re all about â€œdiversity,â€ demanding it at the expense of expression.Â If a student opposes Islam, say, or the homosexual lobby (prominent campus clubs), he can be hauled before a panel with expulsion authority.Â The affect is to chill speech, of course, but on a larger scale, to destroy educationâ€™s true purpose.
If no one can be criticized because it may offend â€“ if all it takes is â€œYou annoy me!â€ to bring censure â€“ this doesnâ€™t produce analytic thinkers but instead conformists desperate to â€œbe liked.â€Â In place of a wholesome learning forum, colleges become homogenized vacuums in which censorship trumps debate.
That said, that this festers so quietly, without media scrutiny, is as alarming as the codes.Â Where are the journalists?Â The students themselves?Â Apparently, itâ€™s more important to be â€œpolitically correctâ€ than to be liberated to speak oneâ€™s mind.
Fortunately, FIRE knows that rights must be fought for.Â And that the best defense against the oppression of speech is to use oneâ€™s voice in liberal full-throat.