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69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book - Unfortunately for liberty
Can't say it any better than Ken at Popehat.com (awesome free speach legal blog).

In Unlearning Liberty, Greg reviews the different occasions and excuses for censorship in modern American universities, marshaling a bewildering array of case studies. Some were familiar to me: the ludicrous reaction to posters at University of Wisconsin-Stout, the legal threats...
Published on October 23, 2012 by Peter

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65 of 83 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Follow the Money
Lukianoff has done a masterful job of presenting the pervasiveness and the seriousness of the issue of college censorship. His book is skillfully organized, extensively referenced, carefully written, and credible. So why only three stars? It's what he doesn't say that bothers me.

1) THE PROBLEM DRIVING CENSORSHIP

In "Chapter 3: The College Road...
Published on November 26, 2012 by Paul Dueweke


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69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book - Unfortunately for liberty, October 23, 2012
By 
Peter (Park City, UT, United States) - See all my reviews
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Can't say it any better than Ken at Popehat.com (awesome free speach legal blog).

In Unlearning Liberty, Greg reviews the different occasions and excuses for censorship in modern American universities, marshaling a bewildering array of case studies. Some were familiar to me: the ludicrous reaction to posters at University of Wisconsin-Stout, the legal threats to critics of the administration of Peace College, and the entirely repellent tale of Indiana University punishing a student worker for reading a book about struggles against the Klan in front of coworkers. Many others were new to me -- and I follow FIRE fairly closely. Greg has a talent for describing instances of censorship in a way to outrage me anew even if I have heard of them before. (For instance, I defy anyone to read about the University of Delaware's frankly Stalinist reeducation program for frosh without feeling disgust and contempt; Greg offers new details that led me to put the book down and go take a walk for a while.)

But this is not merely a compilation of cases. Greg traces the history of campus censorship after the "political correctness" disputes of the 1990s, and weaves the incidents of censorship together to explain how different vaguely defined ideas (like "harassment" and "disruption" and "civility") are used in an unprincipled manner as trump cards to shut people up. Moreover, Greg rather convincingly illustrates how university censorship impacts the attitudes and tolerances of students, and explains why we should fear that students taught to submit to censorship and due process violations will not be reliable supporters of free expression or due process as voting adults.
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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars something anyone going to college and their parents should read!, October 19, 2012
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This review is from: Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate (Hardcover)
The book "UNLEARNING LIBERTY" is an insightful look into academia today and although Lukianoff points to the many administrators that have run an 'underground railroad' of sorts to funnel abused students and faculty to legal remedy... there are far too many administrators and faculty who feel that it is their right to restrict the rights of others, punish the guilty without due process and destroy the careers and lives of the innocent.

The book chronicles many of the cases of FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) over a ten year period. Some will make you mad, some will make you cry. This book should be given to every freshman entering a college or university today... so they know what their rights are... where they can appeal if they find themselves unfairly under the administrative boot... and, most importantly, that they are not alone.

So, whether you are on the left or the right of the political spectrum, you will find this book quietly disturbing.... and a must read.

Roger Freberg
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frightening, But Important, October 23, 2012
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This review is from: Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate (Hardcover)
Greg's book is important because it establishes convincingly that American institutions of higher education are teaching intolerance of dissent and acceptance of various forms of censorship. The cases Greg describes show that this is not a partisan issue -- the words and ideas being suppressed are being attacked from all sides of the political spectrum, and sometimes out of non-partisan hostility towards criticism. Young adults educated in modern American universities can't be expected to support freedom of expression as adult citizens if they are taught to disdain it as students.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Happens on Many College Campuses and Why It Matters for All of Us!, November 19, 2012
Greg Lukianoff is one of the key figures in a 'watchdog' group called FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education). Similar to a group like the ACLU, fire is devoted to protecting students' speech and due process rights on college campuses. The fact is that most people don't seem to know - or are not concerned about - the extent to which many schools do censor student speech: from relegating student speech to small "free speech zones," to painfully ambiguous speech codes that ban everything from insensitive jokes to "inappropriately directed laughter," to out-and-out residence life programs designed around imbuing students with the "correct" political messages. This book not only profiles dozens of such cases, but makes a strong argument as to why all of us - whether in college or not - suffer as a result.

These chapters are organized in a sort of 'chronological order' based on a student's academic career. So, the first chapter focuses on student rights in high schools (which FIRE doesn't per se deal with, but are important for setting up the rest of the book). The next several chapters focus on things like the 'residence life programs' mentioned earlier - like the one at my current university, the U of Delaware. (I won't explain it here; you can easily find out more online.) Later chapters focus on how free speech and expression is often stifled in the classroom and how, in some cases, students have been made to engage in political acts with which they may not disagree as a condition for passing a class or graduating a program! Lastly, we focus on issues where professors have been removed from departments for speech that someone somewhere judged to be offensive (like the history professor who was asked to resign for using the word 'wetback' in class....with the point of explaining the historical origins of the term).

Throughout, Lukianoff argues as to why all of us - whether student, parent, or neither - should care about this. If we want students who become critical thinkers, innovators, and have a strong sense of individuality, then allowing free speech in those institutions that are supposed to aid students in all of these - colleges and universities - is a must. If we want to raise students who are capable of reasoned debate - as opposed either to students who learn to censor themselves automatically, or only 'discuss' amongst those with whom they already agree in an attempt to 'play it safe,' we need to model those things in the college and university environment. (Lukianoff also talks about a possible link between the quiet classroom syndrome' many professors know all too well and the punishing of student speech on campuses.) As it stands, Lukianoff cites several surveys which indicate that a very low number of students, and a lower number of faculty (!) believe it is 'safe' to hold unconventional opinions on campus. And if colleges and universities are preparing the leaders of the future, this uncomfortability with holding 'different' opinions will affect the overall social climate....for the worse, in my opinion.

[It is also worth noting that Lukianoff discusses cases of censorship on the "left" and "right." Why is this worth bringing up? Because just as the ACLU often gets berated as a "leftist" institution, FIRE oten gets branded a "right wing" institution. This is because a good many of the cases involve "conservative" folk getting in trouble in "liberal" institutions. But, as Lukianoff explains, this is not because FIRE seeks out cases by political motive, but because as it stands, the majority of campuses seem to be those where "conservative" opinions are more likely to offend than "liberal" ones. But, yes, Lukianoff profiles a good number of cases where "liberal" groups or individuals were defended, also.Lukianoff himself identifies as a moderate democrat.]

Anyhow, this is a really engaging and somewhat maddening book to read. While some of the stories Lukianoff recounts are quite maddening, what is worse is that Lukianoff is obviously frustrated that few seem to be alarmed. Students, in his experience, have often internalized and accepted a world of "free speech zones," applying for permits in order to pass out flyers and keeping one's mouth shut when one has an idea that may clash with the professor's or university's. I hope Lukianoff can convince more people about the seriousness of this issue.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am afraid to tell you what I really think., October 26, 2012
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This review is from: Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate (Hardcover)
Shhh.

This is a great book, but it criticizes college administrators. If they find out I liked it or considered it to include important ideas, I might get into trouble. And my children might not even get into college.

Oh, heck, I don't care. I'll shout it from the rooftops: WE ARE THROTTLING STUDENT VOICES AND THEREBY THROTTLING NEW IDEAS AND TEACHING OUR BRIGHTEST NEW THINKERS TO STOP THINKING.

I feel much better now. See you in detention.

- Dave

P.S. This is a great book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading for Anyone Concerned About the First Amendment, October 24, 2012
This review is from: Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate (Hardcover)
Greg Lukianoff has achieved quite a feat: Unlearning Liberty is a page-turner that will leave a profound impression once you've put the book down. He is a talented storyteller so that you will share the bewilderment of those caught up in the academic disciplinary machine as well as fume over the obtuse attitudes of the academic bureaucrats running the system. If you have kids applying to college, read this book and buy them a copy. Follow Greg's advice and read websites carefully to make sure that the College of Your Choice truly does respect free speech and applies basic principles of due process to resolve conflicts when they arise. As Greg makes clear in his book, this is not just abstract constitutional legal-speak; people's careers can, and are, destroyed by the authorities in higher education who (with apologies to Henry Ford) believe that members of the academic community can have any opinions they want as long as they are the same as the school's administration.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening, November 9, 2012
This review is from: Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate (Hardcover)
This is a book I wish I could have read before my time in college. It educates about the purpose of free speech on campus, the negative effects that limiting discussion has had on campus and society, and gives so many examples that you can't help but be convinced of the pervasiveness of this concern. As someone still very involved with college students in daily life, I was able to make some mental connections about conversation style and thought processes that have bothered me. I'm now ready to start asking questions and challenging lazy thought.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Well-Written and Important Book, November 9, 2012
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This review is from: Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate (Hardcover)
As other reviewers here have so ably noted, this is indeed an important book which exposes shocking abuses of free speech on our college campuses. What makes this book most impressive to me is Lukianoff's skill in marshaling his arguments: that limits on speech in colleges and universities actually make students dumber, and that the problem is widespread and (seemingly) will never end.

First off, Lukianoff uses a variety of tools to support his arguments, coupled with a fluid writing style that moves the book right along. The book is strengthened by the righteous indignation he expresses at the injustices done to students and professors (yet this is not overdone). One can clearly tell he cares about the students and professors he and his organization (FIRE) represent, but his easy writing style and his mixture of personal opinions, life experience, and strong scholarship keeps the book lively and interesting throughout.

Lukianoff has clearly done his research, citing everyone from philosophers of free speech to leading First Amendment experts. So we don't just read Lukianoff's opinions and summaries of FIRE's cases, but we got a sense of how the world's leading thinkers on law and free speech view the grim situation on campuses.

Most importantly I believe is Lukianoff's description of the long-term effects that campus free speech limitations have on our students and on society in general. The concern is that while the tuitions at colleges and universities keep skyrocketing, many campus speech codes may actually be making students dumber, which clearly defeats the purpose of having them attend an institution of higher learning. The argument is essentially that by discouraging students from freely and openly debating hot-button issues, (for fear of offending people or hurting their feelings), speech codes are only locking people into their long-held beliefs, never giving them a chance to see other viewpoints or how their own viewpoints may be flawed. So instead of hearing dissenting opinions that may strengthen students' arguments and help them broaden their knowledge base, the speech codes are shutting down students' ability to critically examine today's most important issues - which is surely antithetical to the mission of colleges and universities.

Sadly, while I'd like to think this kind of thing is happening only on college campuses, even in my mid-30s I see the effects of this on a daily basis. I personally am finding it more and more difficult to debate my acquaintances about the things I care about - either because they may take things too personally and get offended at what I have to say, or because they aren't educated enough about the issues and therefore aren't comfortable having a full and healthy debate. Knowing how much the college experience shapes people I can't help but wonder if this is in part a result of their college experiences. If so, one can only hope that Lukianoff and his organization's work continues so that students leaving colleges are better equipped to tackle our country's most pressing challenges.
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65 of 83 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Follow the Money, November 26, 2012
This review is from: Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate (Hardcover)
Lukianoff has done a masterful job of presenting the pervasiveness and the seriousness of the issue of college censorship. His book is skillfully organized, extensively referenced, carefully written, and credible. So why only three stars? It's what he doesn't say that bothers me.

1) THE PROBLEM DRIVING CENSORSHIP

In "Chapter 3: The College Road Trip," Lukianoff deftly leads the reader through the staggering numbers defining the growth of college costs over the last thirty years. Then he clearly ties the unconscionable sticker-price run-up to the censorship thesis of his book by saying:

--"The rise in cost is related to the decline in rights on campuses in important ways. Most importantly, the increase in tuition and overall cost is disproportionately funding an increase in both the cost and the size of campus bureaucracy, and this expanding bureaucracy has primary responsibility for writing and enforcing speech codes, creating speech zones, and policing students' lives in ways that students from the 1960s would never have accepted."

This single paragraph is important enough to merit expansion into a whole chapter, but that's still not what bothers me. By the end of this excellent chapter, Lukianoff has explained that higher education has evolved into a 500-billion-dollar-per-year industry and finally states:

--"If we care about both the quality and the accessibility of higher education, we must cut costs, and a great place to start is slashing the administrative bureaucracy. This would not only help bring university prices back toward sanity, but also leave fewer administrators who might attempt to justify their salaries by policing student speech. Lowering the cost of college and restoring rights may be different sides of the same coin."

What a great introduction to the problem driving censorship. What bothers me is that he drops the whole money issue there and never returns to examine the source of the money. So what is this problem behind the problem of censorship? It is simply--THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION. The DE student loan program is truly mammoth. In FY2012, DE pumped 190 billion dollars into the higher education system in direct loans ($176 B) and loan guarantees ($14 B). That is an astonishing 38 percent of the total revenue of the higher education industry. Divide the 190 billion dollars by the 6000 colleges and career schools and you get 32 million dollars each. So it is likely that many big schools are taking in over 100 million dollars per year in Federal Government money. And this number has been growing yearly for the last thirty years. It took me only a few minutes with the ED financial statements at their website to sort this out.

It's no wonder college tuitions can be raised with so little resistance with that kind of financial pressure driving the students. First Academia/Government convinces all these young people that they need Academia's product above all else. Then Government provides the students with easy money, compliments of Taxpayer Joe. Then Academia and Government grow and grow and grow and comfortably support a huge cadre of administrators. And the only downside is that Taxpayer Joe and millions of students work the rest of their lives to pay for this bloated system.

But there is, in fact, one other nettlesome downside. Lukianoff said it well, even though he forgot to connect the dots to the Federal Government:

--"If a generation of students is consistently shown and taught that censorship is not only acceptable but may even be a noble or romantic pursuit, one would expect to see the robust protections that we currently enjoy under the First Amendment erode, not only in the court of public opinion but eventually in the courts of law."

Lukianoff further nails it saying:

--"Abraham Lincoln once observed, `The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next,' and I believe some of the bad habits of campus are increasingly bleeding their way into the larger society."

2) CAMPUS CENSORSHIP GOES INTERNATIONAL

Another connect-the-dots issue that Lukianoff failed to make is between campus censorship and the international movements to prohibit "hate speech" and "defamation of religion." The UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18, adopted without a vote on March 24, 2011, prohibits "derogatory stereotyping, negative profiling and stigmatization of persons based on their religion or belief." Such an international treaty has always been very difficult to sell in the U.S. because of our First Amendment rights. Imagine how much easier it will sell as the generations of censorship-hardened students assume power.

These are important issues that college censorship sets in motion, or at least, facilitates. They call into question the unintended consequences and hidden dangers of such organizations as the Department of Education. These are the issues behind the censorship issue that should be a part of Lukianoff's otherwise excellent book. It would help us discuss how academia relates to our culture beyond its expanding bureaucracy and the annoying propagation of liberty-corroding rules.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding and Very Important Book, October 31, 2012
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This review is from: Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate (Hardcover)
Greg Lukianoff and his colleagues at FIRE have spent the last decade defending the first amendment rights of students and faculty across the United States. I have been in academia for 20 years and I had no idea things were so bad. If you care about where post-secondary education is heading in the U.S. you owe it to yourself to read this extremely well written and shocking book. I have been following FIRE for a few years. Nevertheless, the cases described in this book really surprised me. The incredible arrogance and shameful behavior on college campuses should concern everyone. Some of the cases are subtle such that you might find yourself wondering if it matters. Others are almost impossible to believe. If I hadn't been reading about some of these cases the last few years I'm not sure I would believe it. Highly recommended. But, you may lose some sleep.
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Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate
Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate by Greg Lukianoff (Hardcover - October 23, 2012)
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