Strange Bedfellows: Koch and Bloomberg Defend Free Speech in the WSJ

Sometimes, politics makes strange bedfellows.

For example, Charles Koch and Michael Bloomberg ordered a rare political ceasefire to write a joint op-ed in The Wall Street Journal defending free speech on campus.

Here is a quick preview:

During college commencement season, it is traditional for speakers to offer words of advice to the graduating class. But this year the two of us—who don’t see eye to eye on every issue—believe that the most urgent advice we can offer is actually to college presidents, boards, administrators and faculty. Our advice is this: Stop stifling free speech and coddling intolerance for controversial ideas, which are crucial to a college education—as well as to human happiness and progress.

Across America, college campuses are increasingly sanctioning so-called “safe spaces,” “speech codes,” “trigger warnings,” “microaggressions” and the withdrawal of invitations to controversial speakers. By doing so, colleges are creating a climate of intellectual conformity that discourages open inquiry, debate and true learning. Students and professors who dare challenge this climate, or who accidentally run afoul of it, can face derision, contempt, ostracism—and sometimes even official sanctions.

… Administrators and faculty must do more to encourage a marketplace of ideas where individuals need not fear reprisal, harassment or intimidation for airing controversial opinions. These members of campus leadership would be wise to look at the University of Chicago’s Statement on Principles of Free Expression, which paraphrases the wise words of the university’s former president, Robert M. Hutchins: “without a vibrant commitment to free and open inquiry, a university ceases to be a university.”

Read the rest of the op-ed at The Wall Street Journal here.