Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate

Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate

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by Greg Lukianoff
     
 

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For over a generation, shocking cases of censorship at America’s colleges and universities have taught students the wrong lessons about living in a free society. Drawing on a decade of experience battling for freedom of speech on campus, First Amendment lawyer Greg Lukianoff reveals how higher education fails to teach students to become critical thinkers:

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Overview

For over a generation, shocking cases of censorship at America’s colleges and universities have taught students the wrong lessons about living in a free society. Drawing on a decade of experience battling for freedom of speech on campus, First Amendment lawyer Greg Lukianoff reveals how higher education fails to teach students to become critical thinkers: by stifling open debate, our campuses are supercharging ideological divisions, promoting groupthink, and encouraging an unscholarly certainty about complex issues.

Lukianoff walks readers through the life of a modern-day college student, from orientation to the end of freshman year. Through this lens, he describes startling violations of free speech rights: a student in Indiana punished for publicly reading a book, a student in Georgia expelled for a pro-environment collage he posted on Facebook, students at Yale banned from putting an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote on a T shirt, and students across the country corralled into tiny “free speech zones” when they wanted to express their views.

But Lukianoff goes further, demonstrating how this culture of censorship is bleeding into the larger society. As he explores public controversies involving Juan Williams, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, Larry Summers—even Dave Barry and Jon Stewart—Lukianoff paints a stark picture of our ability as a nation to discuss important issues rationally. Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate illuminates how intolerance for dissent and debate on today’s campus threatens the freedom of every citizen and makes us all just a little bit dumber.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
While more than once using the phrase “PC run amok,” and spending a great deal of time on left-liberal bias among academics, first-time author Lukianoff is at pains to separate his book from the garden-variety conservative salvo against higher education. As president of the nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, he casts a purposefully wide net over American academe. From a Georgia arts professor censored for parodying the Confederate Stars and Bars, to a Pennsylvania student barred from advocating for gun rights, the cases taken on by FIRE variously appeal to left, right, or hardly anyone at all, as with Colorado professor Ward Churchill, known for supposedly declaring 9/11’s victims “little Eichmanns.” Churchill’s appearance sets the seal on Lukianoff’s First Amendment absolutism, but this legalistic principle, however crucial to his argument, is less central to it than the cause of maintaining free inquiry as higher education’s pre-eminent value. This position drives unabashed criticism—which may split political opinion far more violently than his principled stand on controversial speech—of freshman orientation programs focused on specific issues like social justice and privilege. Lukianoff’s stirring take on higher education as an unrestricted intellectual journey remains free of the bile common to culture war screeds, though some readers may wish he had made his point less repetitiously. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

"Lukianoff is an engaging exposer of the shocking repression of free speech on campus, combining good storytelling with clear principles and a serious purpose with a light touch." — Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, author of The Blank Slate and The Better Angels of Our Nature

"Unlearning Liberty is a must read book for anyone concerned about the constitutional future of our nation." — Nat Hentoff, journalist, author of Free Speech for Me—But Not for Thee

"Here's a book full of sunlight—the best disinfectant for campus censorship." — Jonathan Rauch, guest scholar, Brookings Institution, author of Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought

“Destined to be a classic work on freedom in America.” — Donald Alexander Downs, Alexander Meiklejohn Professor of Political Science, Law, and Journalism, University of Wisconsin-Madison, author of Restoring Free Speech and Liberty on Campus

“American universities have been described as islands of intolerance in a sea of freedom. Unlearning Liberty is a meticulous and inspiring guide on how to liberate the islands!” — Christina Hoff Sommers, resident scholar, American Enterprise Institute, author of The War Against Boys

“Lukianoff argues brilliantly and with wit for the importance of free expression in a society that hopes to produce free human beings rather than craven conformists.” — Daphne Patai, professor, Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, University of Massachusetts Amherst, author of What Price Utopia?

“Unlearning Liberty shows why free speech rights on campus are more important than ever, and how controversy is still a great teacher.” — Mary Beth Tinker, plaintiff in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District

“Beautifully written and powerfully argued … an essential wake-up call!" — Nadine Strossen, Professor of Law, New York Law School, former President, American Civil Liberties Union (1991-2008), author of Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women’s Rights

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594037306
Publisher:
Encounter Books
Publication date:
03/11/2014
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
178,008
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 5.90(h) x 0.70(d)

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