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Free speech campaigner: Today, students rarely assist other students whose rights are violated

Today, The Best Schools was proud to publish James Barham’s interview with campus free speech campaigner Greg Lukianoff. Much that he told us should be disturbing to anyone interested in higher education:

TBS: While reading your book, we were dogged by the terrible thought that the battle for freedom of speech (excerpt) may have already been lost—in the hearts and minds of today’s students. What do you think?

GL: Great question, and I am haunted by this all the time. I list so many examples of truly outrageous violations of students’ free speech and due process rights in Unlearning Liberty, but the fact that disturbs me the most is that even in the most egregious cases, it is very rare that either students or professors come to the aid of a friend or colleague whose rights have been violated. The Hayden Barnes case is not just outrageous because the student was kicked out of college for a collage, it’s outrageous because, as best I can tell, virtually none of his fellow students or professors raised a finger to help.

And there is scary evidence that a whole generation’s attitude about free speech is getting worse. Here is a snippet of my most recent Huffington Post article analyzing trends in free speech on campus over the past 10 years:

This summer, the First Amendment Center unveiled its annual survey of attitudes about free speech and found that a startling 47% of young people believe that the First Amendment “goes too far.” While I hope that this is an anomalous fluctuation, it seems almost inevitable that if campuses show at best impatience with, and at worst outright hostility to, free speech, it would eventually produce students who take free speech for granted and even show support for “enlightened” censors. More.

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9 Responses to Free speech campaigner: Today, students rarely assist other students whose rights are violated

  1. This summer, the First Amendment Center unveiled its annual survey of attitudes about free speech and found that a startling 47% of young people believe that the First Amendment “goes too far.”

    That didn’t smell right, so I tried to find the survey, and found this:
    “About 47% of those polled in the First Amendment Center survey said freedom of speech is the most important right”
    From: http://www.firstamendmentcente.....te-freedom

    I think he was confusing that result with this one:

    “In 2013, 34% state that the First Amendment goes too far and 64% say it does not go too far in protecting freedom. It is important to note that this survey was conducted in May, shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing. This jump in the percentage of individuals who think the First Amendment goes too far represents Americans’ increased willingness to give up their rights and freedoms in return for greater security when they feel threatened.”
    From: http://www.firstamendmentcente.....report.pdf

    34% isn’t as bad, although still surprisingly high.

  2. America used to be a country where everyone could easily say what he was thinking about without being punished for that. And the main force were students who were not afraid to show their most outrageous opinion in essays, research papers and sometimes even dissertations (please check MyEssayService for more information). Yes, this time has gone already. It is time to face the truth: it is very difficult to get heard unless there is a big crowd of people who have same opinion and yet still no one can guarantee success. Same thing with students: they are simply being afraid of consequences and I can understand them!

  3. Well, Lukianoff is usually good with stats, and the phenomenon he identifies is unfortunately widespread. The irony of the Boston Marathon bombing having any influence in the case, if it did, is that foreign officials had apparently warned the United States about the Tsarnaevs but were ignored. In short, the question Americans should ask (in one non-American’s view) is not “Should I, as an American, have these rights?” but rather “Why is my government not more vigilant about identified threats to my safety?” It was sad to see all those women, each with a leg missing, and hear that the only story is the “courage” of American women. Could someone PLEASE give more American women a helping of brains and healthy self-interest as well? – O’Leary for News

  4. Lukianoff accurately quotes the survey. On page four of the survey it says:

    “Higher percentages of young Americans tend to agree with the statement that the First Amendment goes too far in the rights that it guarantees. Forty-seven percent of 18-30-year-olds agree, while 44% of 31-45-year-olds, 24% of 46-60-year-olds and 23% of people over 60 agree that the First Amendment goes too far.”

    in his interview with The Best Schools, he is referring just to the young people surveyed, not the entire population.

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  7. It is rather disturbing for me to read this, because I haven’t ever found myself in a situation when I felt like I was alone against the system. As a student, I always cooperate with my mates, we help each other on stuff like essays (often taking ideas from ‹a href=”http://essaydb.net/”›essaydb.net/‹/a› ), and it is really unusual for me to even think about finding myself in a situation when I’d be “the lonely voice”. Everyone might find themselves in a tough spot. People should remember, when someone’s else rights are being violated: you could be the one facing this problem.

  8. Students at American colleges often need help. But, today, we see a certain trend, a scary trend that generation’s attitude about free speech is getting worse. This problem should be considered in more detail.
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  9. In the name of liberty students violates all the rules this must be look after by every concern person and department.
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