Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Freedom of Speech in American Universities

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a non-profit group founded in 1999 that focuses on civil liberties in academia in the United States. Its goal is "to defend and sustain individual rights at America's colleges and universities," including the rights to "freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience--the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity".

One of FIRE's main activities has been criticism of university administrators whose activities have, in FIRE's view, violated the free speech or due process rights of college and university students and professors under the First Amendment and/or Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. FIRE lists over 170 such instances on its website.

FIRE has no stated political affiliation, and has represented the causes of parties with varied political viewpoints, ranging from conservative, liberal, and religious student groups to other activists such as members of PETA[9] and Professor Ward Churchill.

You can find FIRE on the web here. FIRE rates universities as green (free), yellow and red (restrictive). Among the major universities rated as green are Carnegie-Mellon University, Dartmouth College, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Virginia.

Wendy Doniger's home, the University of Chicago, is rated as yellow, actually pretty good compared to the sea of red in its state of Illinois.

We short, dark, rice-eaters should be truly honored that such people as Doniger and her colleague Nussbaum are concerned about the freedom of speech in far away places like our native India, while neglecting the problem at home. It is very much in the illustrious tradition of Lord Edward Cromer, who was very concerned about the rights of Egyptian women, but opposed female suffrage at home.