FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(WASHINGTON) — Today, PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel (pictured here) testified before the House Committee on Education & the Workforce’s hearing, “Diversity of Thought: Protecting Free Speech on College Campuses.”
Nossel testified that protecting free speech on college campuses is essential to preserving the academic freedom and institutional autonomy necessary for universities to continue to serve as incubators of democratic citizenship.
“Students often lack awareness of the First Amendment or the precepts of academic freedom, sometimes believing that the best answer to noxious ideas is to drown them out, or to call on university authorities to shut them down,” Nossel said in her opening statement. “At PEN America we argue that the essential drive to render American campuses more diverse, equitable, and inclusive need not – and must not – come at the expense of robust, uncompromising protections for free speech and academic freedom.”
In response to Ranking Member Robert Scott’s (VA-03) question regarding enacted laws restricting what can be taught in schools, Nossel stated:
“A principle is not a principle if it is not applied to all equally. To cherry pick certain ideas, certain course materials, certain theories and say, ‘these are out of bounds,’ that’s the core of what the First Amendment protects against – viewpoint-based discrimination, the notion that the government would be listing out particular topics, subjects of discussion, aspects of curriculum, and saying they are out of bounds.
Read Nossel’s full remarks here and watch the full hearing video here.
My father and mother were both journalists and journalism teachers. This means I grew up respecting the first amendment and supporting it at all costs, most often against our own government, and–when schools are involved–parents who believe their own personal comfort levels should supersede a teacher’s lesson plans and assigned books.
Some of my best experiences were co-teaching journalism courses at Florida junior colleges with my father. I still learn from his textbooks even though technology has made the methods out of date.
2 thoughts on “PEN AMERICA CEO: PROTECTING FREE SPEECH ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES ESSENTIAL TO PRESERVING ACADEMIC FREEDOM”
Wise words from Ms Nossel. We have the same problems over here, in tertiary education: no-platforming and cancel culture are rife. Fortunately we have very few people who have difficulty believing we’re descended from monkeys.
I must confess I was delighted to see the Edward Colston statue in Bristol consigned to the harbour. Perhaps that was, ultimately, also freedom of speech. For a long time nobody had spoken about the misery he brought to the slaves he traded, only the good works he did with his ill-gotten gains around Bristol.
Freedom of speech is a slippery fish, innit?
Slippery, yes. Necessary, absolutely–on both sides of the pond.
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