Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), pointed out in a recent essay that the threat to free speech on college campuses is nothing new. Proponents of political correctness have long sought to impose speech codes to censor the masses.
In 2004, a University of New Hampshire student was evicted from his dorm room for joking about the “Freshman 15.” In 2009, Yale University students were targeted for quoting F. Scott Fitzgerald. Every semester brings new examples of campus censorship—which prevents students from voicing their opinions and learning from those of others. College is the time to encounter the full scope of ideas in academia. But when some ideas are considered “off-limits,” students lose out on the opportunity to expand their general understanding of the world around them—the whole world, not just what’s deemed “politically correct.”
In the video below, Chapman University Professor Tom Bell explains that unpopular and controversial—even offensive—speech is integral to a free society because it “promotes the progress of human understanding.” All debates require two (or more) opposing sides. It’s through this marketplace of ideas that our social institutions emerge.