Free Speech

Free speech is guaranteed by our Bill of Rights.  It’s core to America. Free speech is under assault by progressives all across the US-especially in our nation’s universities and public school systems.  Hopefully, we started to turn a corner yesterday.

I am really proud of what one of my alma maters did.  The University of Chicago sent a letter to the incoming class of 2020.  Safe spaces and trigger warnings are bullshit.  Here is the text of the letter.

Welcome and congratulations on your acceptance to the College at the University of Chicago. Earning a place in our community of scholars is no small achievement and we are delighted that you selected Chicago to continue your intellectual journey.

Once here will you discover that one of the University of Chicago’s defining characteristic is our commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression. This is captured in the University’s faculty report on freedom of expression. Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn, without fear of censorship. Civility and mutual respect are vital to all of us, and freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to harass or threaten others. You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.

Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called “trigger warnings,” we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual “safe spaces” where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.

Fostering the free exchange of ideas reinforces a related University priority–building a campus that welcome people of all backgrounds. Diversity of opinion and background is a fundamental strength of our community. The members of our community must have the freedom to espouse and explore a wide range of ideas.

I am enclosing a short monograph by Dean John W. Boyer, the Martin A. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor in History and Dean of the College, which provides a helpful primer. This monograph, entitled Academic Freedom and the Modern University: The Experience of the University of Chicago, recounts the history of debate, and even scandal, resulting from our commitment to academic freedom.

If you are interested in some of the source material mentioned in Dean Boyer’s book, you can find links to the important reports (e.g. the Kalven report, the Stone report, etc.) at the website maintained by our University provost at

Again, welcome to the University of Chicago. See you in September!

A while ago, the University of Chicago lead the charge against the movement to suppress debate at college campuses by forming the Committee on Free Expression.  That committee published a manifesto that has been adopted by some other colleges around the US.  One of them being Purdue.  I highly encourage you to read it and think about the concepts it illustrates.

This has nothing to do with being liberal or conservative.  It does have a lot to do with being an American.  It does have a lot to do with individual liberty-and having individual liberty ensures that we have free markets.  When a society values the collective over the individual, it is exceedingly hard for free markets to find a home.  It’s also hard for capitalism to reach it’s full potential.

Free speech also comes with responsibility.  Where there is responsibility, there are consequences.  Free to choose means that if you fail, or don’t do as well as someone else there should be no alternative force to “make it equal”.  In America, we all are born with inalienable rights-and we are free to pursue happiness.  But, we aren’t guaranteed happiness or outcomes.

There is only one way to guarantee equal outcomes, and it’s at the tip of a spear.

America always was a capitalistic society.  But, that’s changing rapidly as we devolve into a more European like government managed crony capitalist system.  It’s too bad more people don’t recognize it.  I am seeing more and more cases of outright discrimination-and it’s the hard left actively discriminating and silencing anyone that doesn’t tow their line.  I am glad the University of Chicago is creating a campus wide safe space for ideas to collide, for people to debate and for individual freedom to blossom.

tip of the hat to my friend Glenn Reynolds, Professor of Law at Tennessee and author of Instapundit.

  • Eric Rasmusen.

    Afraid it does have to do with being liberal or conservative. All conservatives support free speech; some liberals do.

    • a6z

      Still true about liberals–fewer of them support it than ever–but, alas, no longer true about conservatives: a small but significant fraction have turned.

    • not all.

      • VictorErimita

        No? Which conservative politicians, writers, professors (if you can find any), pundits, or “activists” are advicating limits on free speech? Name one case where a conservative individual or group has sought to silence the free expression of others, has organized demonstrations against or shout downs of leftist speakers, has forced resignations, engaged in witch hunts and purges of those who do not tow the party lne. The anti-free-speech movement is entirely on the left. Not liberal, but statist, fascist hard leftism.

    • richard40

      I used to think that in the last 10 yrs, once the moral majority types got cut down to size. But what I see of Trump and his trumpies is not encouraging. They have many of the same attitudes toward any conservative dissent against them as many SJW’s do.

      • rudytbone

        Trump is not conservative. He’s a cronyist demorat running in the republican party. He’ll say anything to get elected, just like hilLIARy will say anything to stay out of jail.

        • Jeff Carter

          I agree. Trump is not a conservative. I don’t know if he is a cronyist or not, but could easily see why someone would think that.

        • Definitely not a conservative. Not sure he is a cronyist, but certainly could see how anyone might feel that way. As far as saying things to get elected, what politician doesn’t?

  • Bob Parkman

    To liberals there is no free speech, just speech they allow.

    • I disagree. Even someone as liberal as David Axelrod applauded Chicago’s effort (he is an alum). For conservative and liberal speakers alike, they should be prepared to face tough questioning and back up their answers with data.

  • ursa5000

    “There is only one way to guarantee equal outcomes, and it’s at the tip of a spear.”
    —– Jeffrey Carter

    “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”
    —— Mao Zedong

  • Michael J. Lotus

    This is good. But it is the first move in what will be a protracted and vicious campaign. UChicago is going to face retaliation. Let’s support them and encourage them to stay strong.

  • MarkM

    “Civility and mutual respect are vital to all of us, and freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to harass or threaten others.” — This leaves the door open to all sorts of PC policing, so don’t give U. Chicago credit that they are not due. The University of Chicago still has a “Bias Response Team” which includes “Hate Speech” as “bias incidents” that will be addressed by the “Bias Response Team”.

    That being said, I do give them full credit for fighting against “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces”. UC has even reformed their speech code – which is a major step forward. As a result, Fire has given them a score of “Green” – which is their highest possible score.

    Overall, congrats to the University of Chicago!

  • Don Reams

    “A while ago, the University of Chicago lead the charge against the movement to suppress debate at college campuses by forming the Committee on Free Expression.”

    The word led is the past tense and the past participle of the verb to lead (which rhymes with bead).

    He led the cavalry over the hill.
    (This is the verb to lead in the past tense.)
    He has led the cavalry over the hill.
    (The word led is a past participle in this example.)”

  • Robert Burke

    At the tip of the spear, 99% of all public-funded education in America is forcibly Progressive, a way of thinking that is barbaric, because it is based upon Hegel’s lie, in essence, “Nothing matters, except: Slaves must submit!” Therefore, being happy .05% of colleges in America might not be so Progressive… accomplishes… what? Do the math: 99% are rube-educated… 1% not. Therefore… Prog Ed must be defunded in all public-tax sectors: city, county, state & Fed. ASAP.
    Declaration of Independence, Version 2.0

    • Pointsandfigures

      You are correct. Public education in America sucks. Only private competition and vouchers will cause it to change.

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