cover image The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America's Campuses

The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America's Campuses

Alan Kors. Free Press, $27.5 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-684-85321-5

The authors of this broadside, both civil libertarians, regard campus speech codes against racist, sexist or homophobic language, as well as multicultural ""diversity education"" programs, as coercive ""academic thought reform."" Political correctness at U.S. colleges and universities, they maintain, has led to the emergence of a ""shadow university"" as administrators, dormitory advisers and officers of student life treat students not as individuals, but as embodiments of abstract groups. Traversing a minefield of thorny issues with passionate conviction, Kors, a University of Pennsylvania history professor, and Silverglate, a criminal defense attorney, charge that the ""political and cultural left"" is today the worst abuser of the principles of open, equal free speech. They argue that a double standard prevails, whereby self-appointed progressives censor voices deemed offensive to women, feminists, gays, ethnic or racial minorities, while these same ""progressives"" condone equally offensive speech directed against conservatives, religious Christians and others. What distinguishes this outspoken contribution to a contentious national debate already clotted with combatants is the authors' scathing campus-by-campus tour, documenting what they see as repressive speech codes, sweeping notions of sexual harassment and arbitrary disciplinary hearings against students and faculty that lack due process protection. The authors' well-nigh absolutist defense of robust free speech--even when its content is viciously racist or otherwise hateful--guarantees that their brief will be controversial. (Oct.)