Free speech is becoming a major issue on university campuses. Shouting down invited speakers accused of “micro-aggressions” and demanding that universities become “safe spaces” for an ever-increasing gamut of minority sensitivities is the order of the day. This trend seems to be far advanced at Brown University, an Ivy League college with a reputation for student radicalism.

In the following 13-minute documentary Ron Montz, a graduate of Brown, traces this censorious and aggressive movement since Ray Kelly, a former New York police chief was invited to invited to give a lecture about controversial “stop and frisk” policies in 2013. Student activists shut down the event before it could start, with slogans like “Racism is not for debate”.

University staff and students who disagree with censorship of unpopular opinions (“North America does not have a rape culture” – this, from a woman speaker who had been raped), or opinions from the wrong sorts of people (such as white, heterosexual male university administrators advancing a diversity policy) are also shouted down and branded as white supremacists and so on.

Glenn Loury, a black economics professor, insists that the university is “a place for reasoned debate, not for encouraging adolescent “tantrums”. He calls the current “shout them down” trend “tyranny”, and “a profound error.” However, the university president, Christina Paxson has capitulated to those “weaponising victimhood”, as Montz puts it, and joined their ranks for all practical purposes.

A former (black) president of Brown, Ruth Simmons, has called learning “the antithesis of comfort”, but the present leadership has tuned that wise saying on its head.

Tomorrow: What has become of Yale.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet