Marketplace of Fear
February 21, 2005
by David French
Last week, we received a long and thoughtful e-mail regarding political uniformity at major universities as well as its consequences for students. The author, a professor, closed his message with the following statement:
[P]lease don’t print this—I have too much fear of what would happen to me if my name became too prominent.
As a result, I will not print any excerpt of his substantive remarks lest anyone recognize the argument and attribute it to him, nor (of course) will I print his name. I wanted to note the closing comment because it is representative of dozens of similar messages I’ve received since I joined FIRE. There is a real climate of fear amongst those who challenge the perceived campus orthodoxy—a fear that is grounded in countless speech codes and countless examples of censorship.
As one person told me this weekend, “If the president of Harvard University cannot even engage the marketplace of ideas without placing his job in jeopardy, how are students supposed to feel if they ask provocative questions?”