Reasonably and a bit skeptically, O'Neil reviews the recent high-wire act that higher education has performed over free speech for students and professors, from Stanford's student speech code to classroom ``content warnings'' in Iowa. Picking up from his Classrooms in the Crossfire (1981), O'Neil examines free-speech skirmishes between the camps of political correctness and neoconservativism that began in the '80s. Comparatively recent scandals include the anti-Semitic and racist opinions of, respectively, professors Leonard Jeffries and Michael Levin at New York's City College; incidents involving a perceived racial insult and student thefts of an unpopular undergraduate publication at the University of Pennsylvania; and the rape-torture fantasy a University of Michigan undergraduate posted on the Internet. With experience as president of the University of Virginia and the University of Wisconsin, O'Neil has considerable sympathy with institutions, administrators, and faculty having to deal with such problems. But he has an uncompromising regard for intellectual freedom in education and a clear understanding of the various legal rulings on the First Amendment, which he spells out in case discussions and administrative guidelines. Ironically, in all of the above cases, the courts found against the colleges and universities that attempted to penalize students, often basing decisions on rulings from the McCarthy and Vietnam War eras. O'Neil also addresses issues of religious speech, academic independence, freedom as it relates to student organizations, and the nature of artistic expression, cataloging object lessons in well-intentioned institutions' hasty and ill-conceived actions when they feel the freedom of ideas risks the stability of the ivory tower. A pragmatic, libertarian-minded, and well-informed legal handbook for the First Amendment on campus, albeit less likely to find a place in the student union or the faculty lounge than the administration offices.

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-253-33267-2

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Indiana Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1997

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The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.


Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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