Free speech is the right to articulate one’s opinion without fear of retaliation or censorship or societal sanction. The First Amendment of the US Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law… abridging freedom of speech.”
Universities have traditionally been a place where burgeoning, radical, heated ideas are first expressed and take hold. Student activism has given rise to important political, economic, and social change. Think civil rights and the Vietnam era protests, for example.
It’s not news for self-righteous students to express such vehement certainty that they are not interested in hearing other perspectives. But how do we feel when college administrators cave to their demands to shut down dialogue and the open exchange of ideas… you know, free speech? It’s a trend that has USA Today and others asking, What happened to American universities?
There’s a provocative new documentary that’s probing a profoundly unsettling question: Is the University Killing Free Speech and Open Debate? Flmmaker Rob Montz wants to understand how and why his alma mater, Brown University, and other prestigious universities have been run down by this kind of “nasty censoring species of student activism.” Why can’t we just have a conversation? What does this say about our country today and where we’re headed?
Rob Montz is a fellow at the Moving Picture Institute and a director at We the Internet TV. His work has been featured in the New York Times, BBC World News, the Economist, USA Today, and the Washington Post. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife, daughter, and genius corgi, Bronson. Find more of his work at RobMontz.com.
Pratik Chougule, JD is an executive editor at The American Conservative magazine. He served as the policy coordinator on the presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Gov. Mike Huckabee. From 2008-2009, Chougule was a Bush administration appointee at the State Department in the Office of the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security. Chougule graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University and holds a JD from Yale Law School.