Even if this rule was enforced fairly (and to be clear, it wasn’t), students of a previous generation would have organized protests, marches, and maybe even held a candlelight vigil or two to reject the muzzling of their basic political speech in an environment that should be doing everything in its power to encourage the open exchange of ideas.
The problem is that students, educated on campuses that over-regulate and apply double standards to speech, have simply gotten used to it. The process of “unlearning liberty,” which the title of my book refers to, has many stages, but the first is simply misinforming students about the rights they have and the importance of those rights. The most dangerous stages, however, come later, when some students come to believe that not only should they not have those rights, but that censorship is what good and noble people do.
While this case is just a typical example of censorship on campus, the fact that repression of speech has become the new normal in higher education is going to have negative repercussions for all of our freedoms down the road. After all, as FIRE co-founder Alan Charles Kors says, “a nation that does not educate in liberty will not long endure liberty and will not even know when it is lost.”
Greg Lukianoff is an attorney and the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.