Our AWOL Security State

Many on the left have cynically (or at least opportunistically) used James Holmes’s Aurora, Colorado rampage as an occasion to demand gun control. A more sensible and less constitutionally dubious response to this tragedy would be to enact universal reporting requirements that would allow for the aggregating of red flag-raising data, such as records of lawful but suspicious weapons sales in gun stores and unusually large online ammunition purchases. In my most recent “This Just In” piece for the Boston Phoenix, I point out that the Feds are good at inventing "terrorist" plots starring a cast of innocuous misfits, egged on by agents who don’t have enough real work to do and by informants working off some beef with the feds. Yet the feds appear less skilled at gathering accessible information that would help them uncover real crimes. We live, alas, in a national security state that is better at invading liberty than in actually providing protection.

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After Awful Tragedies, The Campus Bureaucracy Expands

Recent coverage of the Sandusky scandal has hastily reached the conclusion that what Penn State and other campuses require are more rules and regulations—and more administrators to enforce them—in the name of “risk management.” In my most recent piece for Minding the Campus, I point out that an army of lawyers and administrators who handle "risk" should not be necessary to assure that action be taken when the football coach is told that one of his assistants is raping young boys in the locker room shower. The Penn State scandal is a symptom of a larger cultural problem that infects our universities nationwide. It should be a wake-up call to our nation's universities—not to hire more administrators, lawyers, and risk consultants, but to undo the tyranny of the toxic campus cultures that administrators have created with the quiet acquiescence of trustees and outside the knowledge of alumni, students and parents, as well as the news media that have been fooled for so long by the new academic culture.

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BC and the Belfast Project: A Scholar's Privilege to Disobey

The ongoing imbroglio over Boston College’s Belfast Oral History Project has been disappointing at almost every turn. The case involves a subpoena by the Northern Irish police force of confidential materials collected by Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, two scholars who worked with BC to create an oral history of the Irish “Troubles” as told by former IRA and Loyalist members closest to the fighting. In my latest piece for my Forbes.com blog, “Injustice Department,” I discuss the grave implications for First Amendment rights resulting from the blithe willingness of Boston’s federal courts to jeopardize scholarly research in the name of dubious law enforcement claims. Furthermore, the article raises the important question of what could have been done differently to allow the scholars, like reporters whose confidential notes are being subpoenaed, to resist the disclosure of their sources through civil disobedience.

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The 15th Annual Boston Phoenix Muzzle Awards, student edition

Sticks and stones might break your bones, but on college campuses in the Northeast, words can get you expelled. The Boston Phoenix gives its annual “Muzzle Awards” to the year’s worst free speech violators, with a sidebar highlighting the most egregious violators among academic institutions. The academic Muzzle Award winners this year—Boston College, Bridgewater State, and Harvard University—faced stiff competition. But, in the end, they stood out for their significant contributions to the culture of censorship now running rampant on our nation’s campuses. Click here to access Dan Kennedy’s “15th Annual Muzzle Awards” and here to access my “Muzzles on campus” sidebar. An excerpt after the jump...

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Announcing a New FIRE Book: Unlearning Liberty, Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate

FIRE President Greg Lukianoff's book, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate, is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com. The book will be formally released on October 23, but from now until then, we are spreading the word about the book and the important stories it tells regarding censorship on campus. Getting the message out about how bad things have become on college campuses for once-cherished principles like free speech and due process helps FIRE fight back against campus abuses, and all proceeds from the book go to FIRE to help support our work. Unlearning Liberty is the first book since The Shadow University, written by Alan Kors and me, Harvey Silverglate, to attempt a far-reaching and large-scale exposition of the insane cases of censorship and abuse of basic rights that occur at our nation's colleges and universities. 

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