FIRE Video Interview

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), ,  of which I am a co-founder and current Board of Directors chair, has produced a short (12 minutes long) video on my work in civil liberties in higher education. You may agree, or disagree, with my pessimistic assessment of the current state of the culture on our campuses, and with my optimistic assessment of our chances of restoring fairness, academic freedom, and rationality to these campuses. But in any event I think you’ll find this of interest...


You can find the video here: .


I hope you enjoy this piece and I encourage you to follow the important work FIRE is doing.
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A Ruling on Terrorism That Throttles Civil Liberties

On November 13th the United States Court of Appeals in Boston affirmed the conviction of young Sudbury pharmacology student Tarek Mehanna. Mehanna was convicted on charges of rendering “material support” to terrorism – a dangerously broad and vague provision of the Patriot Act – though nothing Mehanna did came close to posing actual danger. In our op-ed for the Boston Globe, my paralegal Juliana DeVries and I argue that the tragic Mehanna verdict was made possible by the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Humanitarian Law Project v. Holder. The Humanitarian Law Project decision opened the door for federal prosecutors to criminalize a wide range of previously protected expressive activities, such as those in which Mehanna engaged.


You can read our op-ed at:
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David Koch And The WGBH Controversy: Pledging Allegiance To The Flag Of The Day

A contretemps currently taking place at Boston’s public broadcasting network WGBH is one of the more recent examples of pressure applied by interest groups to enforce ideological conformity. This latest such controversy involves billionaire industrialist and philanthropist David Koch, who sits on the WGBH board. Climate change activists are calling for his dismissal from that post. Without any evidence that Koch – who donates generously to the station – has attempted to influence, much less actually influenced and corrupted the network’s programming, these voices believe that he has no place serving as a board member on account of his minority-held views on the nature of climate shift. A loud and very public campaign, including picket lines outside of the network’s headquarters in Boston, is taking place.


In my recent piece for, I explain the stunted logic of this kind of campaign. Citing Justice Robert Jackson’s famous and moving 1943 Supreme Court opinion in the West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette case, I remind those intolerant of Koch’s role in the public arena that unpopular opinions must be protected against the majority-held or “official” view of the day, particularly with regards to issues as important to all of us as the health of our planet. I invite you to read the full column here:
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No Sex Talk Allowed

Those who enjoyed my most recent column for Minding the Campus about the Department of Justice / Department of Education letter on sexual harassment should read lifelong civil liberties advocate, writer and attorney Wendy Kaminer's brilliant May 16th piece for theAtlantic: "No Sex Talk Allowed." 

Kaminer writes:
"Who will benefit from this system? Not educators who hope to foster critical thinking, not students seeking intellectual instead of bureaucratic experiences, not parents whose tuition dollars support unwieldy student life bureaucracies, and not those administrators who value academic freedom and the university's traditional educational mission. The Obama administration's bureaucratic dream is an educational nightmare. Who will benefit from this system? Equity consultants, for sure."
Read on at:

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FIRE President Greg Lukianoff for the WSJ: Feds to Students: You Can't Say That

FIRE president and Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate author Greg Lukianoff writes for the Friday, May 17 opinion page of the Wall Street Journal about the May 9 letter declaring sexual harassment "unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature." What the Departments of Justice and Education have done, as explained by Lukianoff, constitutes a major assault on both free speech and Due Process on virtually every American college campus, public and private. I think it is unlikely that many, if any, colleges and universities will fight back rather than roll-over, hire more administrators, and do the federal government’s bidding. This means more work for those of us out here in civil society to protect what is left of academic freedom and fair disciplinary procedures on our beleaguered campuses.

You can access the piece at the following link:

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