National Free Speech News & Commentary

Commentary: Claudine Gay and Why Academic Honesty Matters

December 27, 2023 1 min read

James Hankins
Wall Street Journal

Excerpt: Claudine Gay, the president of my university, is under attack for academic dishonesty. She is charged with several instances of plagiarism, in her dissertation and other published work, in addition to data falsification. As of this writing it seems not unlikely that she may be fired or asked to resign.

What concerns me is that the public discussion so far hasn’t shown a sufficient appreciation of how serious academic honesty is in research institutions. Some of Ms. Gay’s supporters treat the allegations as trivial, dismissing them as the product of right-wing scandal-mongering. That is a historically uninformed view. Research universities, and the wider modern project of improving human life through research and scholarship, depend on academic honesty.
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George Mason, UNC Under U.S. Investigation for Alleged Bias

December 26, 2023 1 min read

Doug Lederman
Inside Higher Ed

Excerpt: The U.S. Education Department has added George Mason University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to the list of colleges and universities it is investigating for alleged discrimination based on shared ancestry.

In updating the list, the department does not say what possible violations it is investigating under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which requires federally funded institutions to protect students from discrimination based on race, color or national origin.
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The Future of Speech on Campus

December 21, 2023 1 min read

Ethan Bueno de Mesquita
Boston Review

Excerpt: While intolerance is a matter of culture, policy and administrative actions play a role in creating the culture. When university leaders who enthusiastically made statements about Black Lives Matter, knowing that such statements would likely discourage free expression of dissenting views on related issues, later assert a deep commitment to free expression concerning genocide of the Jews, they appear to be cynically picking and choosing their principles to suit short-run exigencies.

In this sense, university leaders are lying in a bed of their own making. I suspect at this point many wish they could give something like my First Amendment answer but cannot without facing charges of hypocrisy. One important question, then, is how they might get from here to there.
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Congresswoman, Have You No Shame?

December 20, 2023 1 min read

John Tomasi
Inside Higher Ed

Excerpt: “Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules of bullying and harassment, yes or no?” Instead of rising to the moment at a high-profile congressional hearing, Harvard president Claudine Gay ducked into a nearby legal hedge and crouched. The Economist put it kindly: “Sometimes you get the technicalities right but still flunk the test.” What test was flunked? The test of presidential leadership.
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Is saying ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ protected speech under the First Amendment?

December 19, 2023 1 min read

Jordan Howell
Foundation for Individual Rights in Expression

Excerpt: Since the October 7 Hamas terror attacks in Israel and the subsequent invasion of Gaza, college campuses across the United States have experienced almost daily protests and demonstrations by students and faculty of all political stripes. Some are raising their voices in support of Israelis; others, in support of Palestinians.

That being said, FIRE has been troubled to see some college leaders react to protected speech and peaceful protests with calls to prohibit speech they view as inflammatory or even to ban student groups because of their viewpoints. The use of one phrase in particular — “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — is so hotly contested that some have called for banning its utterance entirely.
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“Keeping Your Mouth Shut: Spiraling Self-Censorship in the United States”

December 18, 2023 1 min read

Eugene Volokh
The Volokh Conspiracy, Reason Magazine

Excerpt: A very interesting new article, by Profs. James L. Gibson (Wash. U.) and Joseph L. Sutherland (Emory). What struck me is the magnitude of the felt lack of freedom among the three most moderate segments, even setting aside the different reactions on the extremes:

And here's an excerpt from the introduction to the article: “While some might understand these data to indicate that those with ‘bad’ views are no longer free to express themselves, which may be a good thing, we have no means of discerning whether the speech lost is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ speech. Owing to the benefits of deliberations among citizens for democratic politics, most democratic theorists would regard these results as too important to ignore…”
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