Campus Free Speech

Charles Koch and Michael Bloomberg: College Administrators Need a Free Speech Intervention

To save free speech on campus, Congress or the courts must rein in an out-of-control federal agency.



If an increasingly vocal minority of college students is demanding intellectual and emotional coddling in the form of safe spaces, trigger warnings, and censorship of offensive expression, it's the university's job to challenge them. To the extent the higher education bureaucracy serves any purpose at all, it should foster a climate of open inquiry on campus—creating a safe space for unfettered free speech.

But college administrators are not merely failing at this goal—they are actively aiding illiberal activist students who wish to stifle debate.

Businessmen Charles Koch (whose charitable foundation donates to the Reason Foundation, which publishes this website) and Michael Bloomberg (pretty much the opposite) arrive at the crux of the problem in a recent joint op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. Theirs may seem like a strange partnership—they note in the piece that they frequently disagree on policy matters—but when it comes to free speech on campus, they have both noticed the rising tide of illiberalism:

During college commencement season, it is traditional for speakers to offer words of advice to the graduating class. But this year the two of us—who don't see eye to eye on every issue—believe that the most urgent advice we can offer is actually to college presidents, boards, administrators and faculty.

Our advice is this: Stop stifling free speech and coddling intolerance for controversial ideas, which are crucial to a college education—as well as to human happiness and progress.

Across America, college campuses are increasingly sanctioning so-called "safe spaces," "speech codes," "trigger warnings," "microaggressions" and the withdrawal of invitations to controversial speakers. By doing so, colleges are creating a climate of intellectual conformity that discourages open inquiry, debate and true learning. Students and professors who dare challenge this climate, or who accidentally run afoul of it, can face derision, contempt, ostracism—and sometimes even official sanctions.

Read the full thing here.

Of course, college administrators are not exactly siding with easily-offended students of their own volition. Unbeknownst to casual observers of the censorship crisis on campus, the Education Department has actually mounted a herculean effort in the last five years to make the educrats comply with censorious federal mandates. This course of action has empowered the anti-speech students—they quickly learned that subjective allegations of harassment are enough to silence all kinds of expression they don't like. In effect, the Education Department has forced university administrators to tilt the playing field in favor of the safe space crowd.

It's great to see influential people from different sides of the political spectrum coming together to call attention to the spreading sickness of censorship on college campuses. To fix it, Congress or the courts must rein in an out-of-control federal agency.

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  1. Sir Topham Hat sighting!

    1. Those trains have to be carrying something illicit. Every time they do something they fuck up, yet Sir Topham Hatt always seems to be incredibly wealthy and runs the entire town.

      1. Those trains have to be carrying something illicit.


      2. That’s because the trains in the show are steam engines propped up by government subsidies to bolster Sodor’s tourist trade. The actual work is done by the diesels, who are presented in an unflattering light by the storyteller.

    2. I’m sorry, but his name seems a little too on the nose. Hack writing.

  2. Surely these old billionaire white men will change their minds

    1. Will they change your mind? That’s the question. Are you immune to the consultations of the budding BloomsynKochaverse?

      1. I’m already in general agreement that there’s a deficit of respect for free speech on college campuses.

        Given i’m not a WSJ subscriber (sacrilege, i know) i’m not sure what else there is to their argument for me to agree/disagree with.

        To that same point = i’m not sure how the Koch/Bloomberg-mutant-hybrid really expect to reach many in Campus Administrative types by publishing in “Capitalist Plutocrat Daily”

        1. Campus Administrative types

          That’s not their audience. They’re hoping to reach the university/college presidents and members of boards of trustees who do read the WSJ, the Harvard Business Review, etc.

          1. Legally, the academies receiving the federal payola are not required to conduct kangaroo courts, deny the accused access to the evidence, deny the right of cross-examination or lower the evidentiary bar necessary to find that a sexual transgression transpired.

            The OCR’s Dear Colleague letter is guidance – the schools do not have to follow it.

            1. When Vito pays a visit to the fruit stand and observes how nice it is and how much of a shame it would be if anything were to happen to the owner, he’s just providing “guidance” in the same manner, no?

              1. Legality and practicality do not necessarily fuse. Well, Vito has already told you that.

              2. HM, OT: I posed a few questions for you and Sugar Free’s sparring buddy, the nattering nabob of nativism on Nick’s immigration thread.

  3. Bloomberg and one of the Kochs did a joint op-ed for NYT? Proggies heads gonna asplode like the aliens in Mars Attacks!

      1. Let’s not nitpick – it was one of the local papers in New York City.

      2. Oops, yeah, whatevs.

    1. I’m reminded of a Lewis Black bit from the Clinton era where the punchline was essentially that Clinton deserved to be impeached for having forced him into the position of having to agree with Orrin Hatch.

      That’s how I feel about this op-ed. How has it gotten so bad that I’m now on Bloomberg’s side of the issue?

      1. Don’t worry, he’s still wrong about most other things. Though I do remember agreeing with him on something else recently (or maybe it was this same thing, I can’t remember what it was).

      2. How has it gotten so bad that I’m now on Bloomberg’s side of the issue?

        Something about broken clocks… twice a day…

  4. There goes any shred of credibility Bloomie ever had. Everybody knows the only reason the Kochs support “free speech” is so that they can continue to spread their lies about how they’re not totally evil and how they don’t love raping Mother Earth and trying to dispute the fact that 99.97% of all people with IQs above 100 agree that the weather changes. Just so they can continue making money off boiling us all alive in the coming apokochlypse. Those bastards!

    If Koch and Obama had a lick of sense, they’d do a joint op-ed announcing their conversion to Islam, their support for ISIS and Palestine, their campaign to get everyone to stop exercising and take up smoking, their endorsement of Donald Trump, child molestation and country music, and how much they love Michael Bay.

    1. Michael Bay? You’ve gone too far!

      Have some decency, you shitlord.

  5. To fix it, Congress or the courts must rein in an out-of-control federal agency.

    More control of the controllers is not the answer to this problem.

  6. I fear what they are trying to do is not only falling on deaf ears, but way too late. I believe the cat is already out the bag on this. SJW and the PC crusaders have infested just about every aspect of life. Businesses everywhere are caving to pressure to make “diversity” and “inclusion” more important than ability and competency. Adding more and more words and phrases you can no longer say. I’m not sure if we can recover.

  7. “Congress or the courts must rein in an out-of-control federal agency”

    The always naively amusing young Mr. Soave.

    1. List of out-of-control federal agencies “reigned in,” 1776 to 2016:
      [begin list]

      [end list]

      1. Might as well try and catch the wind.

  8. A big lesson to be learned is that no amount of money can undo bad government. That lesson will fail to be learned by pretty much everyone.

    1. Thats the trick isn’t it. If we could only figure out how the give the government “no amount of money”, then bad government would be undone. 😉

  9. If anyone is that concerned about the Department of Education corrupting a university, just persuade your kid to go to a school that’s a better ideological fit.

    It’s nothing but entitlement to think that all schools should be open to your little darling.

  10. That ship has sailed, gentlemen. You should be writing op-ed pieces on how to prepare the coming wave of carebear tears.

    1. Woodchippers in soft pastel colors, with cutesy decals at me mouth?

      1. THE mouth, dammit

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  12. Of course they can’t be allowed to buy a large soda….

  13. “Rein in”?

    You misspelled “eliminate”.

  14. Well, no idea what libertarians should do, but Bloomberg should propose regulating schools that get federal money like insurance companies under Obamacare — you have to spend at least X% of tuition on teaching and research, and within that, at least X% on teaching. Fewer administrators = less administrative bullshit.

    But the only real solution is treating every prog-infected institution like the corpse of a plague victim, and burning it to ash. Department of Justice, Department of Education, the whole fucking federal government. Burn it all.

    1. Yeah under O’care my insurance rates have plummeted to twice what I was paying before. But your plan B. has some merit.

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  16. I applaud you for using the word “illiberal” to describe these cretins. It rolls off the tongue much better than “SJW”, and it fits them to a T.

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