Underground Free Speech at Brown

Jay Nordlinger, of National Review, has uncovered a secret Facebook society at Brown University.  It’s sort of like the Dead Poets Society, but instead of sneaking off to a cave to utter forbidden poetry, they log in to Facebook to have real discussions about controversial topics that are taboo at Rhode Island’s Ivy League University:

One student fed up with this atmosphere of illiberalism, fear, and nuttiness was Chris Robotham, a sophomore from Scituate, Mass., majoring in computer science and math. He created a Facebook group called “Reason@Brown.” You can set up three types of Facebook group: Public, Closed, or Secret. This one is secret. It provides a safe space (to coin a phrase) for the free exchange of ideas, online. A member can simply express his views without being condemned as a heretic or villain. Without being shouted off the stage. There is actual argument.

The group’s only other out-of-the-closet member is Marie Willersrud, who hails from Norway and couldn’t believe the degree to which dissenting voices are suppressed at the American university.

As Nordlinger suggests, an environment invested in the notion that some of the most elite students in the world face oppression at one of the most liberal institutions in the world is one in which people who have contrary ideas must be silenced.  It doesn’t take much cold reality at all — scarcely a warm spring breeze — to blast away that imaginary flower.

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