The Cure for Bad Speech
February 10, 2005
by David French
For those who are new to FIRE and our mission, one thing that you will repeatedly hear us say in response to cries for censorship is: “The cure for bad speech is more speech, or better speech.” This admonition can seem singularly unsatisfying to those who seek the instant gratification of a decisive punitive response. When one, however, takes the time to actually engage and evaluate ideas, the result can be devastating. In yesterday’s National Review Online, Mark Goldblatt absolutely eviscerates Ward Churchill’s ideas and the university culture that spawned him. In so doing, he rejects censoring Churchill (unfortunately for tactical reasons rather than legal or moral) and instead recommends the following “remedy”:
What should be done with Churchill, therefore, is...nothing. His notoriety should stand as an ongoing monument to the decay of intellectual standards in higher education, and his professorship as an ongoing monument to the intellectual cowardice of the school which hired and tenured him.
Thus, inadvertently, Ward Churchill might teach us all a lesson.