Jon Sanders

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (www.thefire.org) provides numerous examples of Americans being "whacked" for speaking out in government schools. Just a perusal of the top items, one finds:

— San Francisco State University investigating the College Republicans for stepping on Hamas and Hezbollah flags during an anti-terrorism protest.

— A challenge to Michigan State University's "Student Accountability in Community" program that forces "mandatory ideological re-education" on students, at their own expense, if they are found to have "behaviors or attitudes [that] are considered unacceptable."

— The discovery that the University of Central Florida bars free-speech on campus except for a few "free speech zones."

— College administrators policing and punishing students for their entries on social-networking Internet sites such as Facebook.com and MySpace.com.

And then there are Americans under threat of government "whacking" for speaking out about global warming. Just ask ExxonMobile CEO Rex Tillerson, who recently received an ominous missive from Senators Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe. The letter tells Exxon to "end its dangerous support of the [global warming] 'deniers'" and "repudiate its climate change denial campaign and make public its funding history." Then Exxon, "one of the world's largest carbon emitters," should put those dollars toward "global remediation efforts" instead.

Or ask climatologist George Taylor in Oregon, where the governor, Theodore R. Kulongoski, wishes to strip him of the position of state climatologist because Taylor is skeptical of the origins of global warming. Other apostate climatologists, such as David Legates in Delaware and Patrick Michaels in Virginia, could also recount experiences from their principled refusal to toe the climate-change line that would leave the Dixie Chicks in a sniveling heap.

Now, it would be wonderful if popular recording artists put their faddish fear of being whacked by the government to good use — taking up the cause of free-speech victims on college campuses, for example, or supporting climate-change dissent. But of course that shouldn't be forced on them like some crazy Michigan ideological re-education plan. After all, it's a free country.


Jon Sanders

Jon Sanders is associate director of research at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C.