Skip to content

The Palm Beach Freedom Institute

Press Releases

Stay Informed!

Sign up to receive the latest from The Palm Beach Freedom Institute.

Sign Up

Palm Beach, December 16, 2022

Paul du Quenoy, President of the Palm Beach Freedom Institute, is delighted to announce PBFI’s first music commission! In partnership with the Washington, DC-based Common Sense Society, PBFI has engaged the composer Bright Sheng to produce a symphonic overture. Sheng’s new composition will receive its premiere at the Palm Beach Symphony in November 2023, at the opening concert of the Symphony’s 50th anniversary season.

Bright Sheng is the Leonard Bernstein Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of Michigan and a celebrated composer of contemporary classical music. His compositions have been performed by almost every major orchestra, and his work has been commissioned by the White House and the Olympic Games, among other prestigious venues and institutions. Alongside his many other honors, Sheng has been awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellowship, fellowships from the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations, and was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music.

In September 2021, Sheng showed his class a film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Othello starring the late Laurence Olivier, who appeared in blackface. As a result, Sheng was removed from teaching and subjected to a disciplinary investigation by the university’s Title IX office for alleged “discriminatory harassment.” Dozens of his University of Michigan colleagues and students publicly called for his dismissal. Leading mainstream media outlets raised concerns about academic freedom, but still condemned Sheng for screening the classic film. After a public outcry, including an op-ed by Prof. du Quenoy in his Newsmax column, the investigation was dropped, and Sheng subsequently returned to teaching.

“What happened to Bright Sheng at the University of Michigan was an outrageous case of the cancel culture that is poisoning our society, destroying our academic institutions, and threatening all of our freedoms,” Prof. du Quenoy said. “We are thrilled that we could bring Bright’s case to national attention and force his vile persecutors to back down from the same despicable tactics he experienced in his early life in Communist China. Along with our friends at the Common Sense Society, we look forward to celebrating the premiere of his overture here in our free state, where “woke” goes to die.

Sheng, who was born in China, completed his studies at Shanghai Conservatory after suffering relentless persecution during that country’s Cultural Revolution, when millions of people were subjected to extreme punishments without evidence or due process. Sheng’s family’s piano was confiscated by the Maoist Red Guards, and he was exiled for seven years to a distant part of the country, where he was forbidden to study Western music.

“I am very grateful to the Palm Beach Freedom Institute for commissioning Bright Sheng to compose an orchestral work to open the Palm Beach Symphony’s 50th anniversary season,” said Gerard Schwarz, the Symphony’s music director, who was formerly director of the Seattle Symphony and the Mostly Mozart Festival at New York’s Lincoln Center. “Bright Sheng is one of the greatest living American composers and our relationship goes back many years. He has always stood for the highest level of music making and has a unique and remarkable voice. All of us at the Palm Beach Symphony are so excited to premiere his new work.”

Questions and comments may be directed to president@palmbeachfreedom.org.

Palm Beach, November 15, 2022

Paul du Quenoy, President of the Palm Beach Freedom Institute and President and Publisher of Academica Press, is delighted to announce that Ilya Shapiro of the Manhattan Institute has been awarded the 2022 Paul du Quenoy Prize! The Paul du Quenoy Prize was created in 2019 by a group of Professor du Quenoy’s friends and admirers to honor individuals who have exposed absurd or unethical practices in academic institutions or media organizations. It is awarded every year on his birthday. Past recipients include the late British philosopher Sir Roger Scruton, veteran National Security Agency cybersecurity specialist Dr. Leslie Gruis, and former Princeton University Professor Joshua Katz.

“I am honored to receive this prize,” Shapiro said. “While I’ve long been an advocate for free speech and due process, particularly in their constitutional dimensions, I never sought to be an exemplar of their necessity. Still, I’m happy to seize the moment and use the platform I’ve been given to shine a light on the rot in legal academia.”

Ilya Shapiro, who will address the Palm Beach Freedom Institute in March 2023, is Senior Fellow and Director of Constitutional Studies at the Manhattan Institute. Previously, he was Senior Lecturer and Executive Director of Georgetown Law’s Center for the Constitution, Vice President of the Cato Institute, Director of Cato’s Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies, and publisher of the Cato Supreme Court Review. Shapiro is the author of Supreme Disorder: Judicial Nominations and the Politics of America’s Highest Court (2020) and coauthor of Religious Liberties for Corporations? Hobby Lobby, the Affordable Care Act, and the Constitution (2014). He has written for the Wall Street Journal, Washington PostLos Angeles TimesUSA TodayNational Review, and Newsweek, and appeared on the Colbert Report. Earlier, Shapiro was a special assistant/adviser to the Multi-National Force in Iraq, practiced law at Patton Boggs and Cleary Gottlieb, and clerked for Judge E. Grady Jolly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He holds an A.B. from Princeton University, an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School.

In January 2022, Shapiro vaulted to international attention when he criticized on his private Twitter account President Biden’s decision to restrict his first U.S. Supreme Court nomination to bases of race and gender. In response, Georgetown placed Shapiro on administrative leave before he even started his job and subjected him to two investigations to determine whether he had engaged in “discriminatory” speech and conduct. After four months, Georgetown ultimately alleged that Shapiro’s comments were “harmful” and had caused “pain,” but found that he could not be sanctioned because he made them before he was an employee. Rather than continue in such absurd working conditions, Shapiro demonstratively resigned just three days after his full instatement at Georgetown and joined the Manhattan Institute.

“Ilya Shapiro’s case proves once again that American academia continues its pathetic, self-destructive slide to ruin,” says Paul du Quenoy, a Georgetown alumnus whose family withdrew a major prospective naming gift from the university in 2016 due to concerns about institutional integrity and free speech commitments. “It is no surprise that more than half of Americans no longer believe a college education is vital for success. Thanks to cases like this, we can see exactly whose fault it is and the sick, un-American ideology driving it.”

According to Gallup, between 2015 and 2019, public confidence in higher education fell more dramatically than in any other U.S. institution, with only 48% of adults expressing “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in academia in the final year. That five-period corresponds broadly to the adoption by universities of critical race theory, radical gender ideology, and speech and behavioral policing, such as the heavily criticized and widely challenged Title IX mandate, which promotes investigations of so-called “discriminatory harassment” without due process and other basic legal rights and protections.

A separate study of 2020 found that only 45% of Americans believe a college degree is important for success, down from 95% in 1980. It is widely believed that the figure has fallen lower since 2020, as college enrolments figures and student satisfaction have tanked.

“Georgetown, my financially and reputationally troubled alma mater,” du Quenoy continued, “has again proved itself a national disgrace, and I am delighted to illuminate its disgusting culture of grievance and hysteria by honoring my friend Ilya with my Prize. I look forward to welcoming him to speak at the Palm Beach Freedom Institute, where he is free to say anything he wants without having to worry about the emotionally crippled lowlifes who staff academia’s dying institutions. Their day of reckoning will come, as it has to all of history’s inquisitors. Fortunately, with academia’s latest statistics, we won’t have to wait long.”

Questions and comments may be directed to president@palmbeachfreedom.org.

Palm Beach, November 19, 2021

Paul du Quenoy, President of the Palm Beach Freedom Institute, is delighted to announce that Professor Joshua Katz of Princeton University has been awarded the 2021 Paul du Quenoy Prize! The Paul du Quenoy Prize was created in 2019 by a group of Professor du Quenoy’s friends and admirers to honor individuals who have exposed absurd or unethical practices in academic institutions or media organizations. Past recipients include the late British philosopher Sir Roger Scruton and veteran National Security Agency cybersecurity specialist Dr. Leslie Gruis.

“I am honored to follow the late Sir Roger Scruton and Dr. Leslie Gruis as the third recipient of the annual Paul du Quenoy Prize,” Katz said, “Our treasured institutions are in trouble, and at a time when so many are working to tear everything down, I pledge to do what I can to build and rebuild.”

Dr. Katz is Cotsen Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Classics at Princeton, where he has taught since 1998 and won multiple teaching awards. In July 2020, Dr. Katz vaulted to international attention when he published an article in Quillette that dared disagree with a public letter signed by hundreds of his Princeton colleagues that called for new “anti-racism” measures at the university. Their proposals included establishing Gestapo-like faculty committees to police and sanction the work and personal behavior of their colleagues for “discriminatory content.” They called for faculty members “of color” to receive – possibly in violation of federal and state civil rights laws – greater access to sabbatical leaves, finance compensation, and university resources than their white colleagues. They further demanded a course “requirement focused on the history and legacy of racism in the country and on the campus” and a program of “anti-racist campus iconography, beginning with the removal of the [Founding Father and early Princeton president] John Witherspoon statue.”

Believing that “independence of thought is considered the hallmark of academia,” Dr. Katz wrote in his article that he fully supported his colleagues’ right to make these demands, and equally expected that he would enjoy the right to disagree with them in a public forum. Instead, Dr. Katz was angrily denounced as a racist. His private life was subjected to unconscionable violations in a veritable witch hunt that sought out any frail shred of evidence of wrongdoing. Earlier this year, Dr. Katz was included in Princeton freshman orientation materials that appear to present him as a racist and a part of Princeton’s alleged history of racism. The attacks on Dr. Katz are continuing despite his distinguished career and more than 20 years of dedicated and heavily rewarded service to Princeton.

The Palm Beach Freedom Institute condemns Princeton’s actions with regard to Dr. Katz in the strongest possible terms. “Joshua Katz’s case proves that American academia is failing disastrously in its mission to foster freedom of thought and expression,” says Professor Paul du Quenoy. “It is no surprise that the percentage of Americans who believe a college education is vital for success has fallen from 95% to 45% in the past 40 years. Thanks to cases like this, you can see exactly whose fault it is. Princeton has proved itself a national disgrace, and I am delighted to illuminate its slimy and despicable behavior by honoring Professor Katz with my Prize. I look forward to welcoming him to speak at the Palm Beach Freedom Institute, where he is free to say anything he wants.”