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“Feigned outrage was first weaponized and perfected on college campuses”

“Feigned outrage was first weaponized and perfected on college campuses”

There is a reason we have been focusing on the cancellation of Ann Coulter’s speech at Fordham, in which the President of the University, Father Joseph McShane, publicly shamed the College Republican’s for inviting her, then reveled in their apology and request for forgiveness.

President McShane’s statements were, according to Greg Lukianoff, President of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Eduaction (The FIRE), ” the longest, strongest condemnation of a speaker that I’ve ever seen in which a university president also tried to claim that he was defending freedom of speech.”

That quote was from a lengthy article in The Wall Street Journal profiling Lukianoff, How Free Speech Died on Campus:

In his new book, “Unlearning Liberty,” Mr. Lukianoff notes that baby-boom Americans who remember the student protests of the 1960s tend to assume that U.S. colleges are still some of the freest places on earth. But that idealized university no longer exists. It was wiped out in the 1990s by administrators, diversity hustlers and liability-management professionals, who were often abetted by professors committed to political agendas.

The proliferation of speech codes, both explicit and implicit, is beyond belief.  It goes far beyond the usual political correctness in which support for treating people without regard to race will get you called a racist. 

Today, university bureaucrats suppress debate with anti-harassment policies that function as de facto speech codes. FIRE maintains a database of such policies on its website, and Mr. Lukianoff’s book offers an eye-opening sampling. What they share is a view of “harassment” so broad and so removed from its legal definition that, Mr. Lukianoff says, “literally every student on campus is already guilty.”

The problem is not just the proliferation, but selective enforcement, which creates an in terrorem effect whereby students who think about speaking out against liberal orthodoxy choose do not do so.  The risk/reward analysis tells non-liberal students to keep quiet, go with the flow, and hopefully escape unscathed.

It really is that bad.  Even on campuses you would expect not to be that way, like Catholic universities.

It’s one of the reasons I started College Insurrection, to shed light on the intellectual terror.

Lukianoff and Robert Shibley of The FIRE kindly have contributed articles to College Insurrection.  Support The FIRE, and buy Lukianoff’s book.

The title of the post is from 2:10 of this interview.


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When did student groups start the practice of shouting down speakers they don’t agree with?

“Free speech for me, but not for thee!”

    Iowa Jim in reply to myiq2xu. | November 19, 2012 at 8:35 am

    I witnessed groups of students (not sure whether that’s the same as “student groups”; it’s possible that you mean a student organization) doing it in the early 1970s, so it goes at least as far back as that.

    Finrod in reply to myiq2xu. | November 27, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    The Communists were doing that back when Ronald Reagan was the President of the Screen Actors Guild, trying to get commie influence out of Hollywood. In his 1964 autobiography, he describes a scene where eleven communists were filibustering an open debate, and they didn’t know if the anti-communist resolution they were trying to pass would pass or not, and when they finally held the vote it was 100+ for, 11 against.

casualobserver | November 19, 2012 at 8:29 am

What seems most ominous to me is that most every response or justification for the overzealous rules on speech suggests that the goal is ‘order’ of the campus population. If you simply ponder that for a moment, you realize how it implicates the administrators to be what you might call ‘totalitarian’. It goes beyond the invitation of a speaker, if you read about the work of The FIRE. It includes ‘controlling’ the speech of the students and their rights of assembly. To a casual observer, the motives are obvious.

The real canary in the coal mine is the rate of success of The FIRE in the courts. The schools seem undeterred, however. I’m still amazed that donors are unfazed by it all, just as the general public shows little outrage. When will there be momentum if not in correcting such ‘unAmerican’ rules, at least in instilling more outrage from the public at large, and especially donors?

Unfortunately, lefties only believe in free speech for other lefties. In their view, conservative or traditional ideas are undeserving of protection. Anybody who opposes abortion, gay marriage, race-based admissions policies, etc. is a menace to the society they envision and it’s more important to marginalize people who hold those views than it is to have freedom of speech (which, after all, is just the outdated legacy of some dead white guys).

Rant over, but I do have a constructive idea: U.S. News has a ranking of colleges and universities, right? So why not RANK the schools on their respect for freedom of speech? Ideally, USN&WR itself would include this as part of their ranking formula, but as a first step, why doesn’t some free-speech protection group start a ranking system that would help prospective students and their parents figure out which colleges believe in free speech and which ones are totalitarian?

    Ragspierre in reply to Conrad. | November 19, 2012 at 8:50 am

    That there is a goooood idea…

    george in reply to Conrad. | November 19, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Conrad, you are incorrect. I know that a (the?) major Jesuit Catholic University in the US that bans certain liberal talk. Notably, the pro-life club at this University has an offical spot on campus. The Pro-chocie club is not allowed on campus. (However, the LGBT club is allowed on campus.) This school also allowed Ann Coulter to speak on Campus.

    So, Catholic Universities do ban some free speech that directly conflicts with Church teaching. I think McShane is abberational (and stupid)

      Ragspierre in reply to george. | November 19, 2012 at 11:30 am

      I think you miss the point.

      I suspect that many schools sponsored by religious organizations DO limit the expression of views inimical to their teachings.

      Which is fine. It is totally in keeping with the First Amendment.

      But many secular…and particularly taxpayer supported…schools engage in a very different kind of GroupThink. Which is not fine.

“The road to Hell is paved with skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their signposts”
St. John Chrysostom

Institutionalized Conservophobia… the not-so-secret weapon socialists use on our children.

ShakesheadOften | November 19, 2012 at 9:54 am

This is the truth, at all levels of academia (undergraduate and particularly graduate…need to control the influx of new academics).

Remember when being a nonconformist was cool among the left?

Seems like a dim memory or ancient myth now.

Bottom line: liberals become “offended” or “harrassed” when they are losing an argument or just don’t have one. The become incensed and riot when the conservative fails to “compromise” by acquiescing.

In other words, they have the relative maturity of three year olds, and the colleges are pumping them out as fast as they can get the tuition money. Nevermind any of that critical thinking nonsense! And I know: I am in the middle of academis (with my head down of course!).

And “harrass” is pronounced “her-ass” for the record! 😉

RKae, the implied definition of “non-conformist” is the basis of that paradox.

70’s University Non-Conformity: Rebellion against Conservatism i.e. Big Government, “The Man.”

Thus, socialists enforce “non-conformity” today as a strategic method to enforce socialist conformity.

We need more liberals like Greg Lukianoff. What an admirable, civic-minded person.

Why all the scenes of UCLA in the background? When I was there in the late 1970s, the free-speech atmosphere didn’t seem bad at all. Fast forward to the early 1990s when I went back to school … the atmosphere was chilling to say the least. Huge change in a short time.

LukeHandCool (who can’t wait to read his book)

BannedbytheGuardian | November 19, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Does this place have a football team ?

If not , their 15 minutes of fame are over.

You guys spend way too much energy on lost battles.

You will never win with Catholics.

    Please do not go so simple as to Catholic bash . The RC church is diverse and to be so crude in attributing motives to all of them demeans your argument. there are priests that even God does not know about..likewise their flocks.

Fordham hilarity, from their own website:

“The Mission of the University

Fordham University, the Jesuit University of New York, is committed to the discovery of Wisdom and the transmission of Learning, through research and through undergraduate, graduate and professional education of the highest quality. Guided by its Catholic and Jesuit traditions, Fordham fosters the intellectual, moral and religious development of its students and prepares them for leadership in a global society.

Characteristics of the University
As a University . . .

Fordham strives for excellence in research and teaching, and guarantees the freedom of inquiry required by rigorous thinking and the quest for truth.