For free speech to be valuable to the pursuit of truth, we all need to be both humble and open. We need humility to recognize that we might not be right about everything all of the time, and that we have something to learn from others. We also need to be open to the possibility of altering our views, opinions, and even values based on our engagement with the world.
In other words, our identity as a person must be kept separable from the ideas we happen to endorse at a given time. Otherwise, when those ideas are criticized, we are likely to experience a conversation, book, or lecture as an attack upon our self, rather than as an opportunity to think about something more deeply.
Humility, openness, engagement, a strong and maturing self that is always a work in progress; these are the necessary ingredients for a free society, and for shared progress, according to John Stuart Mill.
Today’s campus conformists are in danger of squandering this legacy. How can students learn, think, and grow without exposure to unexpected, challenging ideas? How can any campus fulfill its mission of preparing tough-minded and capable students if it instills in them a desire to squelch opposing views rather than a willingness to consider and confront them?
A 2016 Gallup survey found that more than one in four college students felt colleges should be able to restrict students from “expressing political views that are upsetting or offensive to certain groups,” while nearly half were open to restricting press access to public events.
In its 2015 Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression, the Chicago Statement reaffirmed that: “Because the University is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn.
Colleges and universities—and their presidents, boards of trustees, faculties, and alumni—must maximize support for free expression, intellectual pluralism, and most of all viewpoint diversity. In the end, students—and society—can only benefit from embracing the free marketplace of ideas.
Are you interested in ensuring freedom of speech and expression, enhancing viewpoint diversity, and developing intellectual humility? If yes, please read on and if you also believe in the message of this book and willing to fight for it—please considering joining one of these two programs below sponsored by the SAPIENT Being.