Oklahoma, Texas, and Other Schools Join UChicago Alliance on Free Speech

I have previously written of my pride as an alumnus of The University of Chicago in how the school has led the fight for free speech in higher education.  It is also ranked as the number one free speech school in the country. The “Chicago statement” has become the rallying point for schools resisting the anti-free speech movement sweeping over our university and college campuses.  Now both the University of Oklahoma and entire University of Texas system have joined almost 100 schools in signing on to the statement. It remains a minority of schools but the ranks are growing (though often due more to boards than votes of the faculty). Unfortunately, George Washington University (which has been ranked low on free speech rights) has not agreed to this basic statement of free speech protection.

UChicago shocked many in 2016 when it sent a letter to incoming students that promised an unfettered and uncensored education without the protection from disturbing or offensive ideas. While most schools are actively curtailing free speech, its letter warned the students that they will not be protected against ideas or given “safe spaces.”

The origins of the letter is found in a policy produced at the University of Chicago in 2014-2015. The Chicago Statement’s key provision declares that a university’s

“fundamental commitment is to the principle that debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed. It is for the individual members of the University community, not for the University as an institution, to make those judgments for themselves, and to act on those judgments not by seeking to suppress speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas that they oppose. Indeed, fostering the ability of members of the University community to engage in such debate and deliberation in an effective and responsible manner is an essential part of the University’s educational mission.”

The Chicago Statement also states unequivocally that students cannot “obstruct or otherwise interfere with the freedom of others to express views.” That latter statement stands in contrast with many academics who believe that stopping others from speaking is free speech.

Both students and some faculty have maintained the position that they have a right to silence those with whom they disagree and even student newspapers have declared opposing speech to be outside of the protections of free speech.  At another University of California campus, professors actually rallied around a professor who physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display.

In the meantime, academics and deans have said that there is no free speech protection for offensive or “disingenuous” speech.  CUNY Law Dean Mary Lu Bilek showed how far this trend has gone. When conservative law professor Josh Blackman was stopped from speaking about “the importance of free speech,”  Bilek insisted that disrupting the speech on free speech was free speech.

I do not understand why many academics have supported or stayed silent as our faculties have become intellectual echo chambers. However, it is depriving our students of the type of diverse and vibrant intellectual environment that many of us enjoyed as undergraduates.

When I attended the University of Chicago in the 1980s, I found myself in the midst of an intellectually vibrant community with a cacophony of voices, from Trotskyites to black nationalists to radical feminists to creationists. Then-President Hanna Gray told us that “education should not be intended to make people comfortable; it is meant to make them think.” And it did. Students thought a lot about where they fit in this world of ideas.

The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents voted to adopt the “Chicago Statement” last week.

That followed the adoption by the entire University of Texas system. The board announced that the board “guarantees all members of the UT System the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn.” It also declared that “debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most individual members of the UT System community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed.”

UChicago has forced schools and faculty to take sides in this existential fight over free speech. While faculty members rationalize reasons not to support the statement, there is increasingly a sharp and clear divide among schools. The Chicago statement has become the battle line for not just free speech but the future of higher education. While many choose to ignore the rising orthodoxy on our campuses and lack of intellectual diversity on our faculties, this trend will ultimately destroy the essential element of free inquiry and expression needed for higher education.


56 thoughts on “Oklahoma, Texas, and Other Schools Join UChicago Alliance on Free Speech”

  1. I avoided post secondary ‘programming’ and saved a fortune. I passed those savings along to my customers for many years …. And a great spin-off, I can think for myself.

    1. politicization of education is bastardization of education and ultimately taxpayer abuse because uncle sam ends up holding the bag for the whole thing hence the need for student loan forgiveness these days because what is going on in the classroom wont help a graduate get a job

    1. @Bob,

      Ivy League schools?

      Maybe in a decade, but not sooner.

      They live in their elitist echo chamber.

      It will take more than the Justices boycotting a law school to get them to wake up.

  2. Professor…….I understand your joy and pride re: Univ. of Chicago!
    I feel the same about my Sooners, and the Univ. of Texas system…..
    So proud!
    Thank you for posting.

  3. I believe that ultimately, the free market will ‘speak out’ to decide the free speech issue. Institutions of higher learning will deliberately develop their reputations on speech and become known for their policy. If schools like U Chicago market their free speech agenda as one of the benefits of being a student there, then prospective college students can make that part of their decision-making process when choosing a school. The free market will speak.


      Free enterprise in free market competition is always the answer.

      Compulsory central planning (end gas cars, force purchases of electric cars), control of the means of production (i.e. unconstitutional regulation), redistribution of wealth and social engineering will always fail and are always unconstitutional.

      Dictatorship will never beat “Mr. Market.”


    The U.S. Supreme Court, vigorously exercising it powers of Judicial Review, must have made free speech the inviolable law of the land.

    Wait. Didn’t the American Founders and Framers do that once already?

    What the —- have the communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs, AINOs) done to America and Americans?

    No, no. What the —- have actual Americans failed to do to defend and “keep” their republic, and to perpetuate their freedom?

    It’s even more basic than freedom of speech, it all starts with restrictions in immigration law, and establishing and defending America’s borders.

    Oh, look, they’re wide open, in fact, there are no borders!

  5. You are an alumnus, not “an alumni.”

    Keep up your great work. You are a valued ongoing source of important information and. cogent insights.

    1. Father John said: “You are an alumnus, not ‘an alumni.’ ”

      Condescend much? I’m surprised you didn’t add: “Go, and sin no more, my son.”

  6. This is what my father meant when he told me, “Those who can work. Those who can’t teach.”

    What he really meant, and what I failed to grasp at the time, is that there are some people who can’t handle the truth. They hide in tenure, haranguing future second-rate intellectuals about realities academics, themselves, refuse to confront.

    The good news is that there are some faculty who refuse to buy the big lie. Our Professor Turley is such a man who stands against the current of received wisdom. He is tall timber.

    If you want to know what liars the rest are, here is just one example cited by another heroic mind, Tony Heller:

    1. Indeed. Many have bought the smear, without evidence, that Heller is in the pockets of Big Oil. That makes no sense since he’s a self-described environmentalist and nature preservationist who would like to see the demise of most internal combustion engines.

  7. Good to see!

    “education should not be intended to make people comfortable; it is meant to make them think.”
    Leftists dont want people to think. They want mindless sheep all bleating the same leftist narrative.
    That is why they are so very pro-censorship.

  8. Elon Musk today: “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci”

    Rep. Ritchie Torres in response: “Elon Musk wants to criminalize Anthony Fauci because he disagrees with him. Elon is no champion of free speech.”

    Will Turley criticize Musk on this?

          1. You don’t quote any lie, and lies in general aren’t illegal, even before Congress. To be illegal, they have to be knowingly and willfully material false statements, so unless you quote what you’re saying was a lie and show that it was knowingly and materially false, your claim fails as a crime.

    1. “Elon Musk wants to criminalize Anthony Fauci because” . . .

      . . . Fauci financially and morally supported “science” in a dictatorship (China) — which dictatorship then unleashed a virus that killed some 6.6 million people.

      The Nuremberg defendants were pikers, by comparison.

      (You are now free to apologize for a communist dictatorship and Fauci, with: But, but . . . origins. Or with whatever other apologist deceit you can conjure.)

        1. Geez! In which obscure Nebula do you abide?

          Multiple, egregious crimes against fundamental law, against the American essence.

          Unconstitutional denials of the rights, freedoms, privileges and immunities of Americans. Freedom of movement is the first; that is understood. Freedom of Assembly and Religion establish the freedom of movement. Freedom, privacy and security of the persons of Americans, aka the body, which includes freedom from unconstitutional mask mandates – masks which absurdly attempt the equivalent of stopping a mosquito with a chain-link fence. Forcing a bodily injection denying the 4th Amendment right to privacy, under which an American is secure in his person. And so on.

    2. If they don’t order the Covid Melenge to the ultimate sentence after a fair trial, they should resurrect the corpse of the original Mengele and apolgize.

    3. Musk has clearly spelled out the crimes that Fauci committed. Exactly what would Turley criticize him for? This is a REALLY lame attempt to conflate the two.

  9. “[M]any academic (sic) have supported or stayed silent as our faculties have become intellectual echo chambers.” (JT)

    Guess who schooled those opinion-suppressing Twitter execs.

  10. The schools who adopt this statement will produce a higher quality student and will absolutely crush the opposition. The only thing that may hold them back in future employment is if companies foolishly adopt the DEI nonsense when hiring. Then nothing but skin color and gender will be looked at. But, hopefully, that trend, too, will pass when companies see the bottom fall out of their bottom line.

  11. I’m going to point out again that Turley has Darren Smith delete some comments that are protected under the First Amendment (which is totally legal for Turley to do, per Turley’s own First Amendment rights) and thus Turley moderates comments here in ways that are inconsistent with the U of Chicago commitment.

    Turley admits that he does this: “most sites (including my own blog) delete racist and offensive terms” (https://jonathanturley.org/2022/04/28/the-first-amendment-option-an-easy-way-for-musk-to-restore-free-speech-on-twitter/). Racist and offensive comments are protected under the First Amendment.

      1. So Turley is a hypocrite when it comes to free speech in his comments.

        He has a right to moderate them as he sees fit. But he shouldn’t claim that he is an “internet originalist” — which he describes as allowing all speech protected under the First Amendment — when he deletes comments that are protected under the First Amendment. He says things like “To take from the First Amendment, Twitter should return to its position of originalism and make no policies which curtail free speech on the internet,” when he curtails free speech here. Again: it’s totally legal for him to remove comments that are protected under the First Amendment, as he has his own First Amendment right not to host speech he doesn’t want to host. But Twitter has the same right. He calls for Twitter to do things that he will not do himself. It is a hypocritical stance.

        1. I suspect you are not one who actually thinks Turley should allow for racist and offensive terms to be used on his blog. Yet, if he only would, you then would have means to attack him on the only basis there can be for post-modern far left liberals ( illiberals) to discredit him. Unfortunately, for you and yours Turley clearly is not a racist, and since neither would he excuse Twitter for it is he a hypocrite. Illiberals need another angle if they want Turley to be regarded as dishonest.

          1. I didn’t suggest here that he’s dishonest. I said that he’s a hypocrite. Do you understand the difference?

            One way for him to stop being a hypocrite is by allowing all legal speech to be posted here, but it’s not the only way.

                1. Hypocrisy is pretense and deceitfulness. Dishonesty is unwillingness to tell the truth and lying. They are much more the same than they are different. So much so that you are quite mistaken to think otherwise.

                  1. Hypocrisy is saying one thing and acting inconsistently with it, pretending to have values that one’s actions demonstrate one does not actually have. It’s a small subset of dishonesty. One can be dishonest without being a hypocrite. They are not the same thing, just as apples and fruit aren’t the same thing even though apples are a kind of fruit.

                    1. Apples are more than just a kind of fruit, they are a fruit. Just as hypocrisy is more than just a kind of dishonesty, it is dishonesty.

                    2. Hoffman is right. Your problem is that you like to fight and you use deceit and lies in an attempt to win. Unfortunately, you are not smart enough. I don’t know how many people you have been fighting with over definitions.

                      You are a waste of time.

                  2. Ron,

                    Yes, apples are fruit. But “apples” and “fruit” still don’t mean the same thing. One can easily make a claim about apples that is not true for fruit in general and vice versa (e.g., “all apples grow on trees” is true, but “all fruit grow on trees” is false, “some fruit are blue-purple” is true, but “some apples are blue-purple” is false).

                    I’ve given you examples of Turley being a hypocrite about his free speech stance, but you haven’t given an example of him lying about it. I’m open to changing my mind, just quote something he said about it that you consider a lie.

                    Also, do you understand how the Internet Archive (that I linked to earlier) works? It takes a snapshot of a page at a specific time, and it notes the time and notes that the page may change subsequent to the snapshot, which is what occurred: comments were added, and the comments I specified were also deleted. How else would I give you evidence that some comments have been removed? Compare the snapshot with the current version of the page and you’ll see that the comments I referred to have been removed. even though they’re speech that’s protected by the 1st Amendment. It’s totally legal for Turley to remove *any* comments he doesn’t like, but it’s hypocritical for him to argue that Twitter should not remove protected speech when he sometimes removes it here. I don’t consider him dishonest about it because he admits to removing comments here. YMMV.

            1. There is no difference. The one is a synonym for the other.

              What “legal speech” does he not allow that you think he should?

              1. Here’s an example of legal speech that was removed: the April 30, 2021 at 10:18 AM comment —

                The January 17, 2022 at 11:03 AM comment here is another —

                Whether I believe they “should” be allowed is irrelevant to the fact that Turley removes speech that is legal and that he argues Twitter should therefore host.

  12. Progressives are willfully ignorant. Suppressing speech is just one method of maintaining their ignorance. They should mocked and ridiculed for their feeble minded willful ignorance.

    1. Cornell has refused to adopt the Chicago Statement. Recently Ann Coulter (a Cornell alumna) was shouted off the stage after being invited to speak on campus. The perps are still students in good standing. Cornell has a Free Speech Alliance too. See above.

  13. George Washington made the connection of free speech to all other freedoms very clear, he said:

    “If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

  14. Speaking with a good university student about free speech, she was concerned about misinformation, the common excuse for limitations. I said censorship isn’t about the speaker, it’s about preventing the listener, reader from hearing or reading. She stopped. It was I good moment.

    I LOVE and support the Chicago statement and will advocate that the University where I work adopt the same or similar policy.

  15. MIT is currently deciding whether to adopt a version of the Chicago Principles. The faculty vote has been slowed by dilatory amendments, and it isn’t clear whether the faculty will adopt anything this fall, since supporters are not as savvy in parliamentary tactics as are the opponents of free speech.

  16. Bravo to these universities, and to their prospective graduates who will enter the non-academic world with a better understanding of why and how people view things differently. The absence of such a policy, -as the good professor notes, “depriv[es] our students of the type of diverse and vibrant intellectual environment that many of us enjoyed as undergraduates.

  17. There is good reason free speech is the First Amendment. It is critical to all no matter what our views are!

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