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The Gravest Threats to Campus Speech Come From States, Not Students

By Brown University President Christina Paxson:

America is facing a fundamental threat‌, and it echoes a dark past.

In 1633, Galileo was forced to renounce the “false opinion” that the Earth circled the sun since it collided with the prevailing beliefs of the Catholic Church.

Shortly after publication in 1859, Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” was banned from the library of Trinity College, Cambridge.

And in the early 1950s, during the McCarthy era, many university professors were subject to “loyalty hearings,” and some lost their positions because of defamation campaigns and indiscriminate allegations of Communist leanings.

Each of these episodes of censorship and repression of knowledge reflected the unique social and political tensions of its time. But the proponents of censorship and repression all had one thing in common: they were on the wrong side of history.

The mistakes of the past are being repeated in this country, right now. The State Senate in Texas last week advanced one of three bills aimed at public colleges that would ban diversity, equity and inclusion activities, end tenure, and fire professors accused of indoctrinating their students. Several states, including GeorgiaIdaho and most notably Florida, have passed varying laws making it easier to ban books and limit what American educators can teach.

Read the rest of the article in The New York Times.