As soon as Mark (pseudonym) walked into his Women in Literature class, his professor handed him a note stating the following:
It has come to my attention that your comments to other students sitting near you in our Women in Literature [sic.] have been both critical of the class subject matter, derogatory of the ideas other students are contributing to class discussion, and crudely dismissive of issues I have raised.
At first, Mark could not believe he was being described as “crudely dismissive” by his professor. After all, she talked about her private life in class and published a book talking about her sex life in (literally) bloody detail. In fact, her book had probably been read by the dozens of people who bought it. The subject matter of the course had been so graphic he couldn’t always keep his reactions to himself. And so he read on:
The heart of this class is the building of a caring, supportive community where all of us can speak openly because we know our contributions will be shown respect. Your comments to other students are at odds with the purpose of the class, completely unacceptable, and must stop immediately.
Mark now realized his professor had judged as “completely unacceptable” a couple of in-class remarks she did not even hear. He wondered how his comments could be so disruptive if the professor didn’t hear them. He remembered a string of anti-male remarks the professor had made and wondered why she had been given such wide latitude under the First Amendment, while he had been given so little. He also wondered why she made a final judgment of his allegedly crude speech without giving him a chance to tell his side of the story. So he read on:
I know that should your negative attitude and unchecked remarks continue, you will damage the atmosphere I am working hard to create. I ask you to reconsider your decision to take this class. It does not appear that this is the course you thought you so desperately needed.
Mark knew the class would consist of 37 women and zero men if he decided to drop out. He suspected the teacher merely wanted him to drop so she could criticize all of her ex-husbands (and males in general) without having to hear any criticism in return. He had already heard of a case on campus where a male student was prevented from signing up for “Women in Social Work” merely because of his gender. He read on:
If you decide to remain in the class, from here on out, you must sit in the front row, be sure to have your own book with you and demonstrate that you take seriously and respectfully the issues and subject matter of the class, your fellow students, and your professor.
Rather than be subjected to humiliation at the hands of an obviously bigoted feminist, Mark dropped the class. For a time, he also lost his financial aid.
Scenes like the one just described have been occurring in higher education for years. They have been happening for two reasons: 1) the hostility of many “educators” towards the First Amendment and, 2) the lack of student awareness concerning basic First Amendment freedoms.
But now, there is a source where students can go to learn about the basic freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. It is the new FIRE Guide to Free Speech on Campus.
This new book contains a brilliant overview of the moral arguments in favor of free expression. It also gives college students a solid foundation in First Amendment law. Perhaps most importantly, it gives them a specific plan of action for fighting back when their rights are violated.
The FIRE has generously made this book available to college students for free. Students like Mark can download the book directly off the FIRE website or they can request a printed copy.
My friends at the FIRE sent me a free copy of this book last week. I enjoyed it so much that, just five minutes ago, I ordered ten more copies from www.amazon.com. I plan to give these copies to high school students who are probably unaware of the threats to free expression they will face in college.
My readers always ask what they can do to help the cause of liberty on our college campuses. My response is simple: Go to www.amazon.com and place the order I just placed. Given that the book costs a mere $3.95 per copy, I should have ordered 100. What a bargain for the best (and most important) book of 2004.
(Mike S. Adams’ next speech will be at Wabash College on January 27th at 7:30 p.m.)