FIRE defines a “speech code” as any university regulation or policy that prohibits expression that would be protected by the First Amendment in society at large. Any policy—such as a harassment policy, a student conduct code, or a posting policy—can be a speech code if it prohibits protected speech or expression.
A presidency that began with such high hopes of “hope” and “change” has conducted itself just like so many administrations before it. A president who, just ten days ago, mocked “voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity,” has been caught presiding over an Internal Revenue Service that, yet again, applied inquisitorial scrutiny to critics of the government, a Justice Department that, once more, snooped on journalists, and a Federal Bureau of Investigation that can’t help spying on the public’s communications. These abuses remind us not that the Obama administration has invented new ways to abuse power, but rather that even this supposedly fresh start commits the same old excesses that inevitably result from a surfeit of coercive power and plenty of targets of opportunity on which to wield it.
So, as we prepare to hand authority over our health care system to a tax agency that has, time and again, wielded its power for political purposes on behalf of whoever is currently in power, we owe thanks. Thank you, Mr. President, for demonstrating that you’re just as untrustworthy a bastard as all of your predecessors. Thank you for reminding us that, no matter the public assurances we receive, every iota of power given to the government will be misused. We repeatedly forget these lessons, and we need our reminders.
[T]he biggest single test of whether a college is worth attending is not its ranking, its placement record, or the average salary of its graduates.
It’s whether it treats you like an adult. Don’t expect a college to help you become an intelligent adult and a responsible citizen if it does not treat you like one.
Many colleges and universities will not treat you like an adult—someone who can think and act independently—but instead they will treat you like a child in need of sermonizing and supervision while they severely restrict what you are allowed to say and think.
To begin with, if a college is not unambiguously committed to freedom of thought, and its counterpart, freedom of speech, how can you possibly expect to learn how to think critically—to examine opposing positions and analyze the merits and deficiencies of each?
It is the nature of thought itself that it cannot be subordinated in advance to any ideological position. The human faculty of reason is unfettered by allegiance to anything but the truth itself.
Accordingly, the mark of a true university is intellectual diversity—and yet most universities are remarkable for mind-numbing conformity, for a student body that looks diverse but all believes the same things, where dissenting voices are marginalized or ridiculed.
How are you going to learn to think if your university is opposed to thinking?
Think about that.
One good way to get a sense of a college’s commitment to freedom of speech is to check its rating on this website, which will give you detailed reasons for each “speech code rating” it assigns.