Phi Beta Cons

The Academic-Freedom Movement Evolves

Yesterday FIRE released its latest excellent short feature, called “Portraits of Terror,” describing Joshua Stulman’s case against Penn State University. Joshua created an art exhibit attacking the anti-Semitic and pro-terror culture of much of the Palestinian territories. Unfortunately, Penn State officials were offended (an aside: how pathetic is it to be offended by anti-terrorism art?), and they censored his exhibit.  

Last week, the Alliance Defense Fund, at which I’m the director of the Center for Academic Freedom, released part four of “Hanna’s Story,” our based-on-true-events dramatic series (yes, dramatic series — and I think it’s pretty darn good) about a new student’s struggle to start a pro-life club. Every single one of the absurd demands and restrictions outlined in the series happened in real life — including a college official placing a student’s pro-life speech on a “pyramid of hate.” 

The conservative academic-freedom movement has come a long way in just a few years.  I can remember the good ole days of hardcover books, primitive websites, and using actual Wite-Out on complaints. Now there’s YouTube channels, Facebook pages, and documentary films.

But when historians look back at the turning point in the battle for the marketplace of ideas, will they think of books, websites, dramatic series, or documentaries? Or will they see the turning point as a single three minute animation — a brilliant directorial debut from a little-known, slighty nerdy lawyer?  

The answer is obvious.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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