Freedom to Express Diverse Viewpoints is Essential for Democracy

Throughout our career, college students reliably supported free speech on campus. In fact, they demanded it.

In 2013, we began to notice a dramatic shift: students arguing that certain expression or speakers were injurious to their mental health and their ability to function — utilizing the rhetoric of “violence” and “trauma” to characterize speech.

They began to demand administrators protect them from — i.e. censor — expression that made them “feel unsafe.” Too often, these administrators acceded to the demands.

By 2017, the idea that speech can be traumatizing or even “violent” led not only to considerable property damage, but to horrifying violent assaults and acute injuries at both the University of California Berkeley and Middlebury College.

Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and Heterodox Academy continue the work of persuading the public that speech is not violence and that the freedom to express diverse viewpoints is essential for universities and for democracy.

-Greg Lukianoff, President and CEO, FIRE, and Jonathan Haidt, Social Psychologist, NYU’s Stern School of Business

Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt are being honored by the Hugh Hefner Foundation in the book publishing category for their book, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure.