Suppressing Speech and the Quest for Justice

The New Speech Wars on Campus


Dr. James Piereson, a JMC fellow, will discuss the recent hostility to free speech on college campuses a Villanova’s Ryan Center, a JMC partner program.

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018 • 4:00PM—5:00PM
Mendel Hall 101, Villanova University

About the talk
For much of our history liberals, leftists, and reformers have campaigned for a broad interpretation of the First Amendment to allow for the widest possible range of expression on campus and in the arena of political debate. They had many reasons for taking this position — not least that it is futile to suppress speech and that it is important to test different points of view by competition and opposition in a marketplace of ideas. At the point this battle was largely won a new and increasingly influential argument emerged taking the opposite point of view: that it is necessary to suppress some points of view in order to protect the newly won rights of women and minority groups. The “new speech wars” raise important questions: Is this claim consistent with constitutional guarantees of free expression or with the traditions that have shaped the modern university? More importantly, is suppression of some speech necessary to facilitate the transition underway in the United States toward a tolerant multi-racial and multi-ethnic society — or might it in fact impede that transition?

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James Piereson headshotJames Piereson is a Manhattan Institute senior fellow and president and trustee of the William E. Simon Foundation. During 1985–2005, he was executive director and trustee of the John M. Olin Foundation. Previously, Piereson served on the political science faculties of Iowa State University, Indiana University, and the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught government and political thought. He serves on the boards of the Pinkerton Foundation, Thomas W. Smith Foundation, Center for Individual Rights, Philanthropy Roundtable (where he was chairman, 1995–99), Foundation for Cultural Review (as chairman), American Spectator Foundation, Hoover Institution, and DonorsTrust.

Piereson is the author of Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism (2007), The Inequality Hoax (2014), and Shattered Consensus: The Rise and Decline of America’s Postwar Political Order (2015); coauthor of Political Tolerance and American Democracy (1982); and editor of The Pursuit of Liberty: Can the Ideals That Made America Great Provide a Model for the World? (2008). His articles and reviews on higher education and political ideas have appeared in The New Criterion, Commentary, National Interest, American Political Science Review, Public Interest, Journal of Politics, Philanthropy, The American Spectator, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The Weekly Standard, and National Review. Piereson holds a B.A. and a Ph.D. in political science from Michigan State University.

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