In Defense of FIRE
By David Henderson
Scott Alexander writes:
This is a bizarre claim, given the existence of groups like Accuracy In Media, Media Research Center, Newsbusters, Foundation For Individual Rights In Education, Heterodox Academy, et cetera which are all about the right seeking greater fairness in mainstream institutions, some of which are almost fifty years old. (italics his)
Actually the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is not “all about” the right seeking greater fairness in mainstream institutions. It’s all about defending freedom of speech on campuses.
When I first heard about FIRE, it was in the early 2000s and my daughter had just started, or was about to start (I can’t remember which) attending college. So when I found out about an organization that was defending freedom of speech on campus, I decided to follow it. I started out skeptical. Specifically, since this was shortly after 9/11, would FIRE defend freedom of speech of people who, say, were hostile to Muslims and, at the same time, defend freedom of speech of Muslims who were hostile to America? I found one case of each, and in both cases, FIRE defended freedom of speech gloriously. So I sent off $100 and, when I started receiving expensive glossies in the mail (mailing costs alone, if I recall correctly, were about $1.71 apiece) every 8 weeks, I contacted them and told them that if they stopped sending mail, I would promise $200 a year at a minimum. Both of us have kept our promises.
Here’s the first paragraph of their mission statement:
The mission of FIRE is to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience–the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity. FIRE’s core mission is to protect the unprotected and to educate the public and communities of concerned Americans about the threats to these rights on our campuses and about the means to preserve them.