, 14 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
I'm going to tell you the One Big Thing I know about campus free speech, something So Big that people across the spectrum, from @TheFIREorg and @BretWeinstein to @OsitaNwanevu and @jbouie, all know it to be true.

Are you ready? Here it is:
There is virtually no institution in American public life where you have greater freedom of speech than the university. And the depressing corollary: you will probably never again be as free to express yourself in public as you were when you were a student.
Think for a moment about how you spend your day. You leave the house each morning and head to work. From 9 until 12 you're in the office or shop floor. Lunch is in the employee cafeteria or a local restaurant. Then at 5:00 you head home for dinner with the family.
Maybe on weekends you go to church or hang out with friends. You also probably relax some more at home, watch tv, run some errands. It's a quiet life, but you're happy.

At no point did you see a white supremacist rally.
At work, nobody dressed up in black face. Nobody posted anti-immigrant fliers in the employee break room. Nobody organized a "Trans People: How Evil Are They?" debate in the office lobby.
At home, you have a strict "No sexual assault" policy that, crucially, you get to define, adjudicate, and enforce. In fact, you know everyone who lives in your house, and when you go to sleep at night, you do so with the peace of mind of a private bathroom and a locked door.
And when you go to church or enter a store, you know you are on private property where an acceptable standard of speech and conduct will be respected. Otherwise, you know that you can easily turn around, exit the building, and select some other private establishment instead.
This is your life. It is almost entirely devoid of free speech, and that is almost entirely by design. You want the truth? You're coddled. At each hour of the day, someone is exerting massive private sector coercion to shield you from offensive speech or conduct.
There is one exception. One place you do go to where the speech is free and unfettered. You're there right now. It's called Twitter and it's terrible.
That's the paradox of this whole thing. We want universities to have the speech RULES of Twitter but the speech CULTURE of the workplace. We expect students to thread that needle while ALSO getting an education, hanging with friends, accessing healthcare, and oh btw they're 18.
The scandal isn't that sometimes students fail to uphold free speech on campus. The scandal is that we're not impressed that they do as well as they do. Lord knows it's a hell of a lot more than we ask of ourselves.
And you know what? Maybe that's the way it's supposed to be. Maybe universities *should* be places where speech is much, much freer than it is virtually anywhere else. I can think of all kinds of reasons why that might be the case. You can too. They're obvious.
But that doesn't make what we're *asking* of students any less difficult, nor our smug superiority any less unfair. Not when we work so hard after graduation sorting ourselves into like-minded and homogenous communities.

And that's it. That's the One Big Thing. Everything else you see in this debate (a campus scandal, an alarming statistic, a disappointing survey) needs to make space for this one basic truth. Not because the rest of it doesn't matter, but because otherwise it won't make sense.
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