Lawrence Gilbert: Free speech is sacred

April 21, 2014 

I was a faculty member at Northwestern University for 22 years. During that time, another faculty member, an associate professor with tenure, wrote and orally espoused denial of the Holocaust and noted the virtues of the Nazi regime in Germany.

I and many other faculty wanted the university to fire him or at least prevent him from using his university affiliation in his communication efforts. Wiser heads in our administration pointed out to us, and others, that free speech was a valued and protected right of all citizens, and they did nothing. They were right!

Why did our current administration at UNC-CH require one of our most noted faculty members, Gene Nichol, to notify it if he were going to write an opinion piece? This and the requirement that he note that his words are not those of UNC are simply a result of fear that the N.C. legislature would punish UNC.

I was taken aback, hurt and shamed by the athletic scandal at UNC where I served for 30 years, but this is far worse. UNC should remove the reins on Nichol and be the university that we all loved, venerated and were so proud of.

Lawrence Gilbert


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