I am currently reading “Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate” by Greg Lukianoff.
I have read numerous books and articles about the quelling of politically “incorrect” , i.e., conservative and libertarian, views at universities for many years now and the reports seem to be getting worse over time. But this book has a difference – while the other books and articles I’ve read on this topic were written by people on the “right”, this one is written by a fellow on the “left”, with plenty of lefty credentials, who is just as concerned about the destruction of intellectual debate and rational rigor as the writers on the right have been (for two or three decades now). He recognizes that universities are *supposed* to foster such debate in an atmosphere that does not punish challenges to the “PC” views, but rather encourages such challenges. He recognizes that freedom of speech is in dire danger and that both high school and university students have been and are being trained to accept a certain point of view without critical examination, and without an appreciation for the necessity of free discourse among thinkers of all points of view.
I am only on the second chapter and I already consider this book to be must reading for everyone. I mean EVERYONE – no matter what country you’re in, no matter what political alliegiance or religious views. High school kids, college kids, parents, grandparents, childless people and orphans – EVERYONE.
Even if people only read as far as I’ve read so far, it would be worthwhile. Even if the rest of the book turns out to be crap.
Here are a few excerpts (I had to type these out because you can’t copy and paste from a Kindle. So any type-os or spelling errors are mine.):
EXCERPT: “You can’t fully understand what lessons colleges are teaching students about living in a free society without knowing what students have learned before they even step foot on campus. The news isn’t good. By the time they graduate from high school, American students already harbor negative attitudes about free speech….”
EXCERPT: “…Lessons taught by example are most powerful, and high school administrators have offered students some of the worst examples of censorship…”
EXCERPT: “Take, for example, this quote from a high school principal explaining his decision to confiscate an edition of the student newspaper because of an editorial supporting marijuana legalization: ‘I feel like censorship is very important.’ He elaborated, ‘Court cases support school censorship of articles. And we feel like that’s necessary for us to censor editorials in the best interest of our program and community.’ I believe this statement reflects the opinion of many other high school administrators: not only may a high school censor opinions, but it *should* do so for reasons ranging from harmony, to patriotism, to convenience.”
EXCERPT: “With high school administrative censors claiming the high ground, it should be no surprise that the Knight study also found that high school students were far more likely than adults to think that citizens should not be allowed to express unpopular opinions and that government should have a role in approving newspaper stories. After all, if protecting everyone from hurt and difficulty of free speech is a laudable goal, shouldn’t the government be empowered to do that?”
“Meanwhile, there is precious little education in the philosophical principles that undergird our basic liberties, which might otherwise counteract these bad examples. Civics has not been stressed in high schools in recent years, and ignorance of the basics of American governance is widespread.”
EXCERPT: “So what’s the big deal? What’s really at stake? Everything.”