Washington, D.C. — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following statement during the Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee’s hearing on “The State of Intellectual Freedom in America.”
Chairman Goodlatte: At one time, there was likely no other place in the United States that had, at one time or another, received more praise than Silicon Valley or an American college campus for being bastions of free and open expression. Sometime in our recent past, however, this praise has faded and, today, there are few settings in America that can identify as being more homogenous in political thought and belief.
According to data cited by the Heterodox Academy, college professors “went from leaning left to being almost entirely on the left” sometime in the years between 1995 and 2010. Likewise, according to a working paper based on a survey by political scientists at Stanford University, Silicon Valley, in terms of voting, “is one of the most strongly Democratic-leaning areas of the nation.”
However, I would be less concerned about which party is most represented in these settings if there wasn’t also a glaring absence of competing viewpoints. Indeed, in their present state, these settings appear to be examples of what happens when homogeneous groups of people begin to purposely root out people who challenge their beliefs. Silicon Valley, for example, has been called a self-made “echo chamber.” Greg Lukianoff, who has testified before this Committee, and Professor Jonathan Haidt have both identified a movement on college campuses to “scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense.”
The trend towards uniformity in thought and belief, and the means to enforce it should be alarming to all of us as individuals and collectively to us as a nation. College is a time for students to learn to appreciate viewpoints that may be different from their own and we as a society will suffer if colleges are allowed to filter the views their professor proffer and relegate student expression to obscure designated areas on campus. Likewise, if social media platforms are allowed to filter content that does not comply with the companies’ beliefs, society will suffer from a less tolerant and misinformed populace.
Today’s hearing will offer insight into this problem, and will certainly bear on how Congress addresses these issues. With that, I want to thank all of our witnesses in attendance today. I look forward to your testimony.