Commentary: Attacked from Both Sides

David Wippman and Glenn C. Altschuler
Inside Higher Ed

Excerpt: Free speech and academic freedom in American education are once again under attack, from both the right and the left. The tactics differ, with the right relying more on state power -- legislation and executive orders -- and the left on social norms and peer pressure. At the moment, the principal threats come from the right, often and ironically under the banner of protecting free speech and viewpoint diversity. Whatever their source and motivation, these efforts to curtail free speech and academic freedom present a great and growing danger to the freedom of inquiry that is central to liberal education and essential to cultivating the informed citizenry on which American democracy depends.

Attempts to insist on a particular version of history or preclude discussion of controversial topics will hinder educators' ability to teach students to think critically and to present a fair and accurate account of subjects essential to students' understanding of society and their place in it.