Recent articles

Forbidden food for thought: How attempts to control media consumption backfire

FIRE Newsdesk - 08.26.2022

“Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see.” This enigmatic line reveals a paradoxical truth about human nature: We want access to that which is not readily accessible, to find “the truth behind the truth,” as a character from the hit anime show “Fullmetal Alchemist” puts it. . . . 

Cancel culture empowers the powerful - at everyone else's expense

FIRE Newsdesk - 07.27.2022

co-authored with Robert Shibley

Some view these cancellations as success stories: They see the widespread chilling of “bad” speech as a desirable outcome, ridding our public square of everything from hate to poor taste. But cancel culture never does stop exactly where our individual senses of moral judgment — all of which differ, of course — might suggest . . . 

Some lessons from the sorry history of campus speech codes

Persuasion Magazine - 05.02.2022

co-authored with Greg Lukianoff

Regulations on campus “hate speech,” sold as efforts to protect marginalized groups and prevent harassment, do neither in practice. At best, they’re ineffective, and at worst, they open the door to administrative abuses of power and contribute to a campus culture of shame and fear . . . 

Critics of New York Times ‘Free Speech’ editorial get it wrong by drawing false equivalency between criticism and crackdown

FIRE Newsdesk - 03.18.2022

Mischaracterization of the Times piece aside, there is no contradiction between upholding the legal right to free speech for everyone — even shamers and shunners — and advocating for a culture with less shaming and shunning . . . 

Speak your mind, but not like that: Are we all hypocrites when it comes to cancel culture?

FIRE Newsdesk - 02.08.2022

Recognizing that minds can be changed with time and through empathy should be a comfort to those who recognize that cancel culture is a problem, yet strongly oppose particular points of view, because it opens the door to a sort of “cancellation” that doesn’t require coercion or silencing: genuinely convincing someone they’re wrong . . .