I just read the book — labeled a “Broadside,” since it’s only about about 9,000 words long — and liked it very much. Here’s an excerpt:
The increased calls for sensitivity-based censorship represent the dark side of what are otherwise several positive developments for human civilization. As I will explain in the next section, I believe that we are not passing through some temporary phase in which an out-of-touch and hypersensitive elite attempts — and often fails — to impose its speech-restrictive norms on society. It’s worse than that: people all over the globe are coming to expect emotional and intellectual comfort as though it were a right. This is precisely what you would expect when you train a generation to believe that they have a right not to be offended. Eventually, they stop demanding freedom of speech and start demanding freedom from speech.
To be crystal clear, I am in no way absolving higher education of its culpability in exacerbating the movement against free speech. Higher education deserves profound criticism for maintaining and promoting illiberal and unconstitutional speech codes and punishing students and faculty for what they say. However, I believe the even greater failure of higher education is neglecting to teach the intellectual habits that promote debate and discussion, tolerance for views we hate, epistemic humility, and genuine pluralism. I will spend most of the following pages discussing how the rise of “disinvitation season” on campus and the mounting calls for “trigger warnings” represent an increasingly suffocating environment for speech on campus. If, as I suspect, this push for freedom from speech is something like a predictable and natural (if pernicious) force, the single institution that could be doing the most to combat it is higher education, both within and outside the United States. Unfortunately, far from teaching the intellectual discipline that welcomes a free and robust exchange of ideas, campuses are actively accelerating the push for freedom from speech.
Here’s another passage that particular interests me, given my interest in slippery slopes (paragraph break added):
Critics might dismiss my and others’ concerns about what trigger warnings represent as a slippery-slope fallacy. But if there is one thing that I have discovered in fighting for free speech on campus, it is that when it comes to limitations on speech and the uniquely sensitive environment of college campuses, the slope is genuinely perilously slick. In my career, I have seen harassment rationales — meant to prevent misogynists from forcing women out of jobs through constant abuse — being invoked to justify censoring everything from quoting popular television shows to faintly implying criticism of a university’s hockey coach to publicly reading a book.
The slippery slope of censorship is demonstrably not a fallacy on campus. When students take advantage of a psychological term developed to help those traumatized in the ghastly trenches of World War I justify being protected from The Great Gatsby, sleepwalker statues, and, as the Oberlin policy specified, Chinua Achebe, it becomes clear that there is virtually no limit to the demands that will be made if we universalize an expectation of intellectual comfort. Other critics see where this is headed, as well. As Professor Roff wrote in the article mentioned above, “since triggers are a contagious phenomenon, there will never be enough trigger warnings to keep up with them.”