In Commencement Address, Author Ian McEwan Defends Free Speech on Campus, Even if You Disagree With It May 19, 2015

In Commencement Address, Author Ian McEwan Defends Free Speech on Campus, Even if You Disagree With It

In his commencement address on Sunday at Dickinson College, English novelist Ian McEwan spoke about the importance of free speech and not censoring or running away from ideas we don’t agree with.

It’s a pressing issue on many campuses these days, with “safe spaces” and trigger warnings and protests against critics of religion (like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Bill Maher), and McEwan words couldn’t have come at a better time. His comments referenced Christopher Hitchens, the recent PEN Awards, and Charlie Hebdo.

Please take some time to listen to it:

Freedom of expression sustains all the other freedoms we enjoy. Without free speech, democracy is a sham.

It can be a little too easy sometimes to dismiss arguments you don’t like as hate speech or to complain that this or that speaker makes you feel disrespected. Being offended is not to be confused with a state of grace; it’s the occasional price we all pay for living in an open society.

Now that’s a memorable commencement speech. So much better than the former politician I had to listen to when I graduated.


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