Introducing FIRE Summer Intern David Deerson
June 14, 2011
by Jaclyn Hall
David Deerson comes to FIRE from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH), where he is a rising junior pursuing a double major in history (U.S.) and philosophy, with a minor in philosophy, politics, and economics. David is also Vice President of the UNC-CH College Libertarians, and he previously interned with the North Carolina GOP. On why he came to FIRE, David writes:
I believe in individual liberty and personal autonomy, and I am convinced that freedom of expression is absolutely vital to the pursuit and sustenance of both. Free speech is among the most commonly celebrated rights we have both as human beings and as Americans. Yet throughout the country, and most dishearteningly on our college campuses, commitment to this freedom is all too often nominal and shallow. Private citizens and lawmakers alike widely argue that some forms of expression that may be considered offensive are not protected by the right to freedom of speech. Barring such speech is not only an affront to our natural and legal rights; it is unhealthy and unproductive. The search for truth, intended to be the central goal of academic life, is crippled when open expression is not allowed. One cannot propose to seek real truth if certain forms of expression are hidden or distorted.
I first heard about FIRE in the documentary film Indoctrinate U, and was immediately interested in the work it does. When a campus chapter of a national club brought a controversial speaker to my campus, many students lobbied the administration to prevent the speech from occurring. I respected the UNC-CH administration for allowing the event, but what about the student protesters? I had an epiphany listening to the protesters—they said that they did not want the speaker to be allowed to speak his mind, but what they meant was that they did not want the students to be allowed to hear his message. The suppression of his speech was meant to be an impediment to my learning. When the event took place, I attended. I did not agree with the content of the lecture—in fact I found it misguided and uninformed—but I was proud to exercise my freedom to hear it. FIRE's work in helping students and faculty fight against draconian administrative policy is important, but their educational programs are also needed to help spread the message that we should be free to spread messages. This is a good fight, and I am excited to help fight it.