, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 41–47 | Cite as

Ray Bradbury and the Assault on Free Thought

  • Daphne PataiEmail author
50th Anniversary Issue: Past, Present, Future

“[F]reedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.”

Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette(1943)

“There isn’t any need for a civilized man to bear anything that’s seriously unpleasant.”

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World(1932)

Had Ray Bradbury not died in June 2012, at the age of 92, he would surely have been happy when, a few months later, a small victory for free speech took place at an unlikely site, an American university. Why unlikely? Because for the past few decades, attacks on free speech have become routine in American universities, as speech codes and harassment policies have been imposed without much challenge from either students or professors.

At Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, in early September, 2012, a student named Jillyann Burns had the temerity to place on...


Free Speech Film Clip Speech Code Free Expression Entire Society 
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Further Reading

Note: Some parts of this essay were previously published in Minding the Campus, at:

  1. Bradbury, R. 1979. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Ballantine Books [orig. pub. 1953].Google Scholar
  2. FIRE: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
  3. de Grazia, E. 1992. Girls Lean Back Everywhere: The Law of Obscenity and the Assault on Genius. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  4. Kors, A. C., & Silverglate, H. A. 1998. The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  5. Lukianoff, G. 2012. Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate. New York: Encounter Books.Google Scholar
  6. Patai, D. 2008. What Price Utopia? Essays on Ideological Policing, Feminism, and Academic Affairs. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, Herter Hall 416University of Massachusetts AmherstAmherstUSA

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