“A commitment to free expression includes hearing and hosting speakers, including those whose views or opinions may not be shared by many members of the MIT community and may be harmful to some. This commitment includes the freedom to criticize and peacefully protest speakers to whom one may object, but it does not extend to suppressing or restricting such speakers from expressing their views. Debate and deliberation of controversial ideas are hallmarks of the Institute’s educational and research missions and are essential to the pursuit of truth, knowledge, equity, and justice.”
What is unnerving is that a third of the faculty disagreed with the resolution despite the following reservation:
“MIT does not protect direct threats, harassment, plagiarism, or other speech that falls outside the boundaries of the First Amendment. Moreover, the time, place, and manner of protected expression, including organized protests, may be restrained so as not to disrupt the essential activities of the Institute.”
However, the statement makes the key acknowledgment that “we cannot prohibit speech that some experience as offensive or injurious.” That is clearly unacceptable for many in academia. Silencing opposing views or voices has become a core principle for many professors who now refer to free speech as an ever present danger on campuses.
MIT has not always stood by free speech. As we previously discussed, the university yielded to cancel culture by barring a guest lecture to be given by University of Chicago geophysicist Dorian Abbot in 2021.
MIT also attracted criticism over abandoning standardized testing to achieve greater diversity. It later reversed that decision.
The new resolution is a victory for t
University of Chicago emeritus biology Professor Jerry Coyne raised some good-faith objections on his Why Evolution Is True blog, including the resolution “
However, the references are part of a graph that refers to the personal responsibility of faculty to maintain civility and mutual respect. It follows an express protection for offensive speech: