Podcast: The escalating debate over speech on campus

Revisiting our February 2017 conversation with UW-Madison’s Don Moynihan.

The Women’s March on Madison in January 2017.

The Women’s March on Madison in January 2017.

This week we’re revisiting a conversation that we had back in February about the nuances of free speech on college campuses. The subject has only become more tangled and more urgent over the past few months. Across the country, people across the political spectrum have used incidents like Ann Coulter’s decision to cancel a speech at the University of California Berkeleyto fuel a narrative that casts left-leaning college students as enemies of free expression — though naturally there’s a lot more to it than that.

Here in Wisconsin, legislators have proposed requiring the UW System to punish students who disrupt on-campus talks, and to require public university institutions to remain neutral on public policy issues. The legislation includes broad language that has drawn criticism from across the political spectrum, including from the conservative leaning Foundation For Individual Rights In Education. It’s also drawn continuing and thoughtful criticism from Don Moynihan, director of the La Follette School of Public Affairs at UW-Madison.

Moynihan sat down with us in February to talk about challenging the prevailing narratives about free speech on campus. This week, we’re bringing you that conversation again, in light of the escalation surrounding the issue. Moynihan also has had a lot to say about the issue on Twitter.

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