Quillen Op-Ed: ‘How to Protect Free Speech in the Age of Mass Shootings’

Wall on a Foggy Day

In an op-ed for The Hill, President Carol Quillen urged readers to listen to college students rather than dismissing them as intolerant or childish.

Quillen explores how the world might look to college students—and it’s not always pretty. Instantaneous access to information has raised the stakes of expression, creating a world in which free speech can mutate into violence in the blink of an eye.

“For young people who have known no world but this one, the line between speech that invites violence and violent criminal acts seems paper thin,” she writes.

“If we want to engage our students, rather than belittle them, we might consider changing the subject from free speech per se to how words lead to action in the world.”

Quillen asks readers to focus on our collective vulnerability to tribalism and how technology has made us less likely to connect directly.

“Such a change of subject would invite all of us to pose timely political and ethical questions, as many college professors nationwide are doing…” she writes. “In fact, freedom of speech has a better chance of flourishing if we—on the left and the right—would lay down our arms and listen.”

The op-ed is available in its entirety at The Hill


  • January 13, 2020