Free Speech, Cancel Culture, and Viewpoint Diversity on Campus
Annual Princeton University Reunions Event
Flora Champy, Assistant Professor of French and Italian, Princeton University; Randall Kennedy '77, Michael R. Klein Professor, Harvard Law School; Stuart Taylor, Jr. '70, Journalist and President of Princetonians for Free Speech
Universities are supposed to be institutions devoted to truth-seeking scholarly research and non-indoctrinating teaching. For them to fulfill their missions, basic freedoms—above all liberty of thought and expression—must be respected, protected, nurtured, and encouraged. Yet on many campuses today a climate of groupthink, intolerance, and fear undermines these freedoms. Thought and language are subjected to policing by informal, and sometimes formal, mechanisms. Fearing everything from unfair grading to full-blown “cancellation,” many students fear to speak their minds or raise questions about prevailing campus orthodoxies. Even tenured faculty members sometimes engage in self-censorship. Why is this happening? What can and should be done about it? Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program, will lead a discussion of these questions featuring Princeton alumni Randall Kennedy ’77, Michael R. Klein Professor at Harvard Law School, and Stuart Taylor ’70, Journalist and President of Princetonians for Free Speech, and Flora Champy, Assistant Professor of French and Italian at Princeton University.
Flora Champy is Assistant Professor of French and Italian at Princeton University. Her research focuses on eighteenth-century French political literature and philosophy, with additional special interests in classical reception, theater and film studies. Prior to joining the faculty in 2018, she taught at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon and Johns Hopkins University. Her current book project, tentatively entitled L’Antiquité de Jean-Jacques Rousseau: exemples et modèles politiques, which can be translated as Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Antiquity: Political Examples and Models, (under contract, Classiques Garnier), aims to renew the understanding of Rousseau’s often misinterpreted interest for ancient political structures. She holds a dual PhD in French Literature from the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon and Rutgers University. An alumna of the ENS de Paris, she received a master’s degree in Classics from Paris IV Sorbonne University.
Randall Kennedy ’77 is Michael R. Klein Professor at Harvard Law School where he teaches courses on contracts, criminal law, and the regulation of race relations. Awarded the 1998 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for Race, Crime, and the Law, he writes for a wide range of scholarly and general interest publications. His other books are For Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law (2013), The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency (2011), Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal (2008), Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption (2003), and Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word (2002). He is a member of the American Law Institute, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Association, and is a Trustee Emeritus of Princeton University. A graduate of Princeton University, Oxford University, and Yale Law School, he served as a law clerk for Judge J. Skelly Wright of the United States Court of Appeals and for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court. He is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia and the Supreme Court of the United States.
Stuart Taylor, Jr.,‘70 is President of Princetonians for Free Speech. He has coauthored three critically acclaimed books, and has written for leading publications since 1980, including The New York Times, American Lawyer Media, National Journal, Newsweek, and many other newspapers and magazines. He has been interviewed on all major broadcast networks and has won numerous journalism honors. In 2012, Richard Sander and Taylor wrote Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It. In 2007, Taylor and KC Johnson wrote Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Fraud. Their most recent book, The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America’s Universities (2017), is about the campus sexual assault panic. Taylor graduated from Princeton in 1970 and Harvard Law School in 1977. He practiced at a Washington, D.C law firm from 1978-1980.
Robert P. George holds Princeton University's McCormick Chair in Jurisprudence and is the Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. He has served as chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and before that on the President’s Council on Bioethics and as a presidential appointee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He has also served as the U.S. member of UNESCO’s World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST). He is a former Judicial Fellow at the Supreme Court of the United States, where he received the Justice Tom C. Clark Award. He is on the academic committee of the Academic Freedom Alliance, a non-profit organization founded in March 2021 and “dedicated to upholding the principle of free speech in academia.” A graduate of Swarthmore College, he holds M.T.S. and J.D. degrees from Harvard University and the degrees of D.Phil., B.C.L., D.C.L., and D.Litt. from Oxford University.