One of the core missions of this blog is to do what I can to promote scientific and technological progress. Every once in a while, I will highlight organizations which already exist and which we should support as part of the battle for science.
This week, I would like to highlight The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Their mission is:
to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience—the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity. FIRE’s core mission is to protect the unprotected and to educate the public and communities of concerned Americans about the threats to these rights on our campuses and about the means to preserve them.
By and large, universities, particularly in the United States, remain bastions of free thought. But any encroachment on free speech and free thought is disturbing, and if the trend toward barbarism continues at its current pace, there will certainly be an impact on all of our lives. A culture which shouts down the original thinkers will eventually succeed in stamping them out.
Many of the people being shouted down and attacked recently may very well be wrong or even despicable, but then was Galileo not despicable to the Catholic Church? The most revolutionary and world-changing truths are bound to be challenging and provocative, and though I don’t know that any such truths have been shouted down yet, we must not risk embracing the sort of culture that allows for that.