Writing at popecenter.org, George Leef gives his take on the assault on free speech taking place on college campuses. The most recent incident, of course, occurred at Brandeis, which rescinded an honorary degree and speaking invitation to Ayann Hirsi Ali.

The real problem here, however, is not the double standards. The problem is that universities cave in to such pressure at all. Universities above all other institutions should stand up for the idea that it’s wrong to censor anyone or stifle debate, no matter who is offended and how many claim to be outraged. Educational leaders should say, “If you think you’ll disagree with someone, first hear what he or she has to say, then make the best counter-arguments you can.” That should be the universally applicable ground rule for education.

Unfortunately, that rule has suffered terrible erosion, just as the rule of law itself has. Political interest groups often succeed in getting officials to waive laws on their behalf and similarly they often succeed in getting university leaders to waive the rules of free speech to silence those with whom they disagree.

That regrettable tendency is the focal point of an excellent book by Greg Lukianoff, Unlearning Liberty, now in its second edition. Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, is precisely on target when he writes, “For decades, our universities have been teaching students that speech with a chance of offending someone should immediately be silenced….” Brandeis has just reinforced that lesson.