The Department of Education has officially launched a “free speech hotline” in order to defend the First Amendment rights of college students.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, the department announced the hotline at an event earlier this week. The department vowed that the hotline will give college students the ability to report free-speech violations on campus directly to the department, which can then investigate.
Several private organizations, including the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and the Young America’s Foundation, already offer similar hotlines, the Beacon notes, but this will be the first time a government agency has made such a move.
In a report published back in September FIRE revealed a staggering amount of First Amendment violations amid the ongoing climate of racial tension and unrest in the nation. A separate FIRE study shows that 88 percent of American universities hold restrictive policies that stifle students’ free speech, including many public universities which are run by state government bodies and legally bound to the First Amendment.
Bob King, DOE assistant secretary for post-secondary education, said in the announcement that these threats to free speech are simply incompatible with life “in free society.”
“[Cancel culture is] dangerous not only because it shuts out conservative voices, but also cancels all dissenting voices,” King declared. “It chills free speech and prohibits pursuit of the truth, and has no place in free society.”
The Beacon adds:
The rollout of the hotline follows the launch of several high-profile investigations into taxpayer-funded schools. The Education Department is currently investigating whether Princeton University violated the Civil Rights Act when its president said that racism remains “embedded” in the university. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is also under investigation after a series of anti-Semitic incidents caught the department’s attention.
The free-speech hotline was created with students in mind, though it may prove beneficial for professors as well. Bret Weinstein, formerly a biology professor at Evergreen State College, detailed his experience of campus censorship during the Education Department’s online announcement. After activists demanded that white students stay off campus for a day to highlight racial injustice, Weinstein sent a university-wide email criticizing the demand. His email sparked a violent campaign of harassment, which the university did little to quell, and Weinstein ended up resigning from the college at which he had taught for 15 years, citing its descent into “anarchy and madness.”
“This isn’t just a free-speech crisis, it is in no way limited to college campuses, and it is far more dangerous than the term ‘cancel culture’ suggests,” Weinstein proclaimed. “The movement wields incredible power, it often silences critics, and the control of free speech is a means to the end.”
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