Greg Lukianoff's Talk On "Unlearning Liberty"

Last night I attended Greg Lukianoff's talk at the LA Press Club about his book "Unlearning Liberty," which I reviewed here. I got to meet Virginia Postrel, which pleased me, and Adam Steinbaugh, who located me by tweeting words to the effect of "are you that schlubby guy over there staring at his iPad?" I was, in fact.

Greg's a good raconteur in addition to a good writer, and his talk was enjoyable. He emphasized a number of important points made at length in the book: that apathy about free expression amongst students and faculty is terrifying; that modern university censorship is often less about ideology and more often about a self-interested hostility amongst administrators against being criticized or made to look bad; that the rapid growth of university administration (as opposed to faculty) is inevitably leading to this attitude towards speech; and in general that this is no way to run a railroad — or, as Greg puts it, "this is not a formula for a free people."

The book's terrifying and entertaining and great. I highly recommend it. And, as Greg says last night, The FIRE is a two-million-dollar organization standing up to a half-trillion-dollar increasingly administrator-driven higher education industry; it needs and deserves your help. Please consider giving it.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. says

    > this is no way to run a railroad

    Be careful what you wish for.

    I don't know if this current crowd CAN make a railroad run on time, but I'm certain that they're willing to crack a few eggs to see if they can.

  2. AE Viescas says

    "apathy about free expression amongst students and faculty is terrifying"

    aka "I'm the only one who thinks this is a serious business problem who is actually associated with a university as opposed to criticizing it from the outside."

    What a ringing endorsement. When nobody cares, blame the "sheeple."

  3. C. S. P. Schofield says


    You inspired me to posit the following rule "It may be impossible to make an omelette without breaking eggs, but it is sadly all too possible to break eggs without making an omelette."

  4. Jo says

    @C.S.P. Schofield:
    c.f. Randall Jarrell:

    A War
    There set out slowly, for a Different World,
    At four, on winter mornings, different legs …
    You can't break eggs without making an omelet.
    –That's what they tell the eggs.

  5. C. S. P. Schofield says

    The Right has a tendency to assume that censorship on campus is ideological and comes from the Leftwing instructors. And given some of the extraordinarily idiotic theories pushed by academics, their suspicion is not without merit. But it does seem to me that on campus censorship is much likelier to be the policy of Administrators who want what Administration weenies always want; absolute authority without accountability. It isn't ideological because to be so the administrators would have to be capable of conceiving of ideas.

    Now, the effect of campus censorship will tend to match the ideological spectrum of the instructors, since those will not be likely to create controversy on campus.