University News

Hundreds assemble to confront Kelly controversy

Community members grappled with free speech and race in the wake of the canceled lecture

Staff Writer
Thursday, October 31, 2013

President Christina Paxson stressed the importance of open discussion and tolerance for all opinions at last night’s community event.

More than 600 students and multiple professors and administrators gathered Wednesday night in Alumnae Hall for an open forum addressing issues surrounding free speech and race on campus and the cancellation of New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s lecture Tuesday.

At the Tuesday event, students and community protestors shouted at Kelly when he took the podium, protesting his role in the New York Police Department’s controversial “stop-and-frisk” policing policies. Kelly was repeatedly prevented from speaking, and administrators ended the event, hosted by the Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions, a half hour after it began.

President Christina Paxson invited the community to the forum via a campus-wide email sentWednesday afternoon. Administrators were surprised by the turnout and only expected about 100 to 200 attendees, Paxson said in opening remarks at the event.

Administrators stressed the importance of engaging in dialogue to confront controversial issues in the wake of the protest against Kelly’s lecture.

“Talking in person is always the best thing to do,” Paxson said at the forum, which drew a crowd that overflowed into the hallways outside Alumnae Hall.

Margaret Kluwann, vice president for campus life and student services, called for creating a respectful atmosphere during her remarks. “We have an important opportunity to listen to each other and to learn, and I hope that we can do that respectfully,” she said. “I ask you to challenge ideas, not another person.”

Provost Mark Schlissel P’15 told The Herald his hopes for the event before it began. “I hope we achieve understanding about how to tackle and discuss issues in an open and respectful and mindful way that makes me proud of Brown,” he said.

Tricia Rose, professor of Africana Studies and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, commended those who had raised concerns about Kelly’s lecture for their courage to “stand against the status quo.”

Rose also acknowledged the disappointment of students who had wanted the lecture to proceed in order to have the chance to engage with Kelly following his talk. “We can say we would like the format to be different, but not engage in a cannibalization of our own community in our conversation,” Rose said.

Jenny Li ’14, a leader of the protest, told forum attendees she was disappointed no media outlets had reported on the text of the statement protestors had recited at the lecture.

Li invited attendees to recite the group’s chant with her in a call-and-response format. “Asking tough questions is not enough,” she said. “Brown is complicit. We stand in solidarity with the Providence anti-racism movement, and all those impacted by racial profiling.”

Li said she and many other students felt emotionally “triggered” by Kelly’s presence, adding that protestors considered their shutdown of the talk a “win.”

Other forum speakers expressed their regret that the protest had forced the lecture to be canceled, saying the action challenged campus free speech.

“People wanted to hear this man answer questions,” said Ross Cheit, professor of political science and public policy at the Taubman Center. “I think it was a loss.”

Cheit highlighted the fact that the lecture was part of a series supported by the family of Noah Krieger ’93, who died shortly after graduating. Kreiger’s father had been interested in bringing a speaker to campus who would present a differing viewpoint from the liberal Democrats who had previously delivered many of the previous lectures.

It may be difficult for the University to bring controversial speakers to campus in the future, Cheit said, adding that “an invitation is not an endorsement” of an individual speaker’s positions or policies.

Middle East Studies Director Bashara Doumani stressed that students should appreciate the opportunity to speak freely in campus discussions in “a place in which (community members’) actions are producing a nation (they) want to live in.”

Amara Berry ’16 called for all community members to better listen to each other’s perspectives.

The speeches were followed by a breakout discussion session that included faculty members Paxson invited to help facilitate dialogue.

Administrators then invited discussion group members to share the content of their dialogues. Josette Souza ’14 volunteered to speak first, directing her comments at Paxson.

“Ray Kelly is a terrorist, and he’s terrorizing our communities,” Souza said. “Until you feel terrorism in your life, I don’t think you have the right to speak on this subject.”

Students’ comments throughout the forum were punctuated by snapping and applause.

Many students said they felt personally offended by Kelly’s presence and believed the University should not have invited him to campus.

“To those of you who don’t understand the emotion, what sort of invasion of your privacy or denial or patronizing and marginalization of your personhood could make your voice shake the way that mine is shaking right now?” said Ruby Fore ’17.

Will Furuyuma ’15 told Paxson he is concerned because she did not condemn Kelly’s stop-and-frisk policy in her campus-wide email sent before the forum.

Marion Orr, director of the Taubman Center, which sponsored Kelly’s lecture, expressed regret for the controversy.

“I sincerely apologize to my students,” Orr said. “Especially to my black students and Latino brothers and sisters — it wasn’t my intention to hurt you, and it hurts me to hear that my decision caused so much pain.”

Orr asked the students to submit a list of speakers whom they would not approve of coming to campus, adding that he never expected the intense reaction to Kelly’s event. Orr later wrote in an email to The Herald that notion was meant to point out that a list of speakers like this should not exist and to provoke thought about such a list’s implications.

“Ray Kelly’s position is not a marginal one,” said Viveka Hulyalkar ’15, adding that she wishes the lecture had gone forward. “Perception of legitimacy is … the reason we have to listen with him and engage with him.”

“For me, protesting Ray Kelly and shutting down his speech had nothing to do with ideas,” said Justice Gaines ’16, who helped organize the protest. “It had to do with the safety of my body on this campus,” he said, adding that he felt uncomfortable at Kelly’s scheduled lecture because the commissioner seemed to be  “preaching” to several rows in List Art Center 120 — the auditorium in which the event took place — that Gaines said were reserved for police officers.

Tensions flared at the forum near its conclusion when a graduate student claimed he had just been involved in a confrontation with a Department of Public Safety officer when he had tried to enter Alumnae Hall.

Michael Sawyer GS said a DPS officer “cornered” him before the forum and asked him if he was affiliated with the University. Saywer said the officer told him he “didn’t look like a Brown University student.”

Deputy Chief of Police for DPS Paul Shanley told The Herald he could not confirm the interaction.

Discussion about the cancellation of Kelly’s lecture has drawn polarized responses from the student body on campus and through social media sites, including two rival Facebook-driven letter-writing campaigns — one in support of the University’s decision to invite Kelly and one in opposition to the lecture.

Zachary Ingber ’15, a Herald opinions columnist who co-launched a Facebook page asking students to write Paxson letters in support of Kelly’s right to talk at the University, said he created the page to counter letters written to Paxson in opposition.

“The problem with banning certain points of view is that it prevents others from responding,” Ingber said, adding that he wishes students had been given the opportunity to challenge Kelly on his position in a question-and-answer session following the planned lecture. As of press time, 83 people had joined the Facebook group calling for students to support the University’s decision to invite Kelly.

The rival page had garnered 190 members as of press time. Page organizers could not be reached for comment.

Irene Rojas-Carroll ’15, an organizer of the protest, said the letter-writing campaign was not officially affiliated with Tuesday’s protest, but she added that the page creators supported the protestors’ cause.

Many students approached Paxson after the event. Some thanked her for hosting the forum, while others called for her to take further action to make minority students feel safer on campus.

Paxson told attendees she plans to hold multiple dinners at the Sharpe Refectory where students can sign up to discuss issues with her. “The solution is to talk it out,” she said.

“Tonight showed that Brown has soul-searching to do on issues of race and class,” said Wendy Schiller, an associate professor of political science and public policy who attended the event.


In a previous version of this article, Director of the Taubman Center Marion Orr is reported to have asked students for a list of speakers they would not want to see on campus. Orr later clarified the statement was intended to imply such a list should not in fact exist and to provoke thought about such a list’s implications. The article also incorrectly reported Josette Souza ’14 said New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is “terrorizing our community.” In fact, Souza said Kelly is “terrorizing our communities.” The Herald regrets the error. 



  1. Those Liberals... says:

    I am disgusted by my alma mater today. There is only ONE lecture series that brings opinions to campus that differ from the Brown narrative. Now it seems like the Taumban Center gave in, and implicitly asks students to pre-approve speakers. This is such a sad day for our campus- the leftist bullies have won. I am seriously considering not doing any alumni interviews. I cannot recommend a university with all my heart, whose student body is so at odds with the mission statement (free inquiry) and that shows utter contempt for any opinion but its own.

    • Very sad week for brunonia says:

      An absolute disgrace. Orr should be fired for even suggesting it. But it does reveal the depth of the problem. The students effectively censor perfectly reasonable views and the reaction of the chair of the public policy department is to apologize and promise to clear speakers with the radicals next time.

      This whole debacle calls for a very serious rethinking of how the University approaches views at odds with the left-liberal consensus. I think they need to take some affirmative steps here beyond making sure this kind of disruption doesn’t happen again. Brown is a very intolerant place and it needs more intellectual diversity to make sure its students learn how to meet views they disagree with in an appropriate manner, and maybe even learn something. Until it does that, Brown is failing its students.

      • remain_in_light says:

        The Political Theory Project at Brown has brought legitimate, polite, political and economic discourse to campus for the first time in 60 years or more. The PTP moto is “listen even to the other side”. Nearly every month the PTP brings very hot topic lectures and debates to campus, typically with great attendance. It has saved my relationship with Brown, and ended the great censorship by the left. Check out the Political Theory Project, it is saving Brown one open minded event at a time. John Hare ’83

        • Kevin Carty Kevin Carty says:

          To all of the alumni who are saying you are “ashamed” of the protest action: I think that really just demonstrates the lack of respect and appreciation you have for the students who organized the protest, and an unwillingness to respect their values and motivations is as anti-brunonian as anything else.

          I fundamentally disagree with the shutting down of the Ray Kelly lecture. That being said, Brown has a robust history of student activism, and the conversation that this protest started is something that I am SO proud of as a Brown student. The community forum, written about above, was an excellent example of the conversation and intellectual engagement that Brown is built upon, and I have never been so PROUD to be a Brown student as I was at that event.

          By the way, it’s also pretty damn shameful to post anonymously.

          • remain_in_light says:

            Kevin, I don’t believe anyone has said that protesting is shameful, but what is beyond shameful and unacceptable is shouting down speakers on any college campus where open discussion should be sacrosanct. You agreed with this. Also, “robust history” of anything does not make it right of course, so be careful with what you choose as a pillar of an argument. I, like many others, are simply tired of intolerant leftist violently silencing other views on a regular basis, which unfortunately has been the robust history at Brown and frankly needs to change, for the benefit of all. John Hare ’83

          • Those Liberals... says:

            I absolutely second that. The arguments of the other side are laughably weak and remind of Orwellian newspeak. What did the organizers say again?Right, “shouting down kelly

          • LarrySingleton says:

            Useful Idiot

            Indoctrination U: The Left’s War Against Academic Freedom and The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America by David Horowitz
            Ivory Towers On Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America by Martin Kramer
            (The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men by Christina Hoff Sommers)

          • “Brown has a robust history of student activism…”. The point is that Brown’s credibility has been undermined. So going forward, our institution’s ability to make a difference has been impaired.

  2. Ronald j offenkrantz says:

    Awful conduct by those who disrupted Ray Kelly’s appearance should not be tolerated by any university let alone Brown. Ron Offenkrantz ’58

  3. Carl Johnson says:

    Unbelievable that a University like Brown would even consider forming a list of “approved” speakers. Your students would come out of Brown having only been fed the pablum of the liberal left. What a blotch on Brown. Carl Johnson P 14

  4. Very proud of the students at my alma mater today; in interrupting Ray Kelly, they have done tremendous work. While this forum is an excellent step, I am very disappointed with the administration as a whole. Brown will not be receiving any donations from me until Christina Paxson is no longer president of the university. She is an embarassment.

    • Shutting down debate is your definition of “done tremendous work.” ???? How sad. Imagine, if your little-minded brain can even think this broadly, what other debates throughout history would NOT have happened had they been interrupted and shut down by the same Brown students/faculty.

      You think it’s fine to shut down debate because you disagree with a policy. I’ll remember that the next time you and your cohorts get up to speak about something I disagree with. Fair?

      What a joke and a waste of an education.

  5. Baggage Carousel4 says:

    If you are interested in a dialogue on policy, you invite policymakers to speak. You don’t invite enforcers. For the life me I can’t figure out why the Taubman Center thought it was a good idea to give an uncritical platform to Kelly, rather than invite people who were involved in developing the policy or defending it in court. And certainly, if their goal was discussion/dialogue, why would it not be designed as a panel discussion, with alternative viewpoints on equal footing? The whole thing seems very poorly conceived by the Taubman Center.

    A. Jenny Foreit ’93

    • So the head of the New York City Police should not be allowed to speak? And having audience members ask questions implies that it is an uncritical platform? Should the University have a panel discussion on every issue and for every speaker? Should a lecutre by Ken Miller on biology be accompanied by a counter-speaker on intelligent design? Should a speech by Lincoln Chaffee be matched by a conservative politician? Are you on drugs?

      • Baggage Carousel4 says:

        ad hominem, straw men, and false equivalencies. congratulations on the Internet trifecta!

        • Answered as expected. No Justice! No Peace!

        • Brown '17 parent says:

          I think you are the one who just engaged in ad hominem, straw men and false equivalencies. Not to mention hypocrisy and illogic. Congratulations to you!

        • Well, you were just downright wrong. You’re honestly arguing that when considering policy followed by the police, it’s irrelevant to invite a senior policeman? I’m not sure about intelligent design, but to comparing that to an attempt to claim a debate about healthcare could not be informed by the views of a doctor would have been entirely equivalent, and directly applicable.

  6. Protester persecution of Commissioner Raymond Kelly reminds me of Kristallnacht, differing only in degree not substance. In planning the Kristallnacht, Hermann Göring said:

    “I have received a letter written on the Führer’s orders requesting that the Jewish [Commissioner Kelly] question be now, once and for all, coordinated and solved one way or another… I should not want to leave any doubt, gentlemen, as to the aim of today’s meeting [Brown University protest]. We have not come together merely to talk
    again, but to make decisions, and I implore competent agencies to take all measures for the elimination of the Jew [Commissioner Kelly] from the German economy [Brown University], and to submit them to me.”

    Commissioner Kelly has devoted his entire life to our country and saving lives: during battle in Vietnam and 30 years of service in the US Marines and over 40 years of service in various law enforcement capacities. His law enforcement philosophy may be controversial to some, but the fact that his policies have save thousands of minorities from being murdered is not because homicide statistics do not lie. Reasonable minds can disagree as to the proper balance between police action and violent crime reduction, but Commissioner Kelly is not an evil man. He is not a tyrant. He is constrained by politicians and the courts. There seems to be no constraints on protesters at Brown University, however.

    At a minimum, he deserved a chance to be heard and challenged respectfully. Shame on Brown University and President Paxton for being weak and cancelling the event rather than ejecting the protesters. Protesters won, our Constitution, Brown University, and President Paxton lost, and no amount of discussion after the fact can change this.
    Brown University is rendered a hollow shell of an academic institution.

  7. Brown '17 parent says:

    As a long-time hard core radical liberal, I’m disgusted by these so-called protesters. Back in my day we protested loudly and disruptively, but we also demanded and engaged in dialogue. Kelly deserves credit for being willing to speak to an open audience, and to engage and answer for his actions during a question and answer session. Briefly interrupting the lecture and making your voice heard is one thing; but refusing to allow the person to respond and completely shutting it down is another. If there were no other way to make one’s voice heard, such as in the case of a fascist-controlled speech with a handpicked audience, i would sympathize- but your voices were allowed during the question and answer session which you refused to allow to take place. Shutting down a lecture by an opposing viewpoint, even if that viewpoint is wrong, is nothing to be proud of and disgraces Brown University. it would have been useful and interesting to hear what Kelly’s response to the questions about racial profiling would have been. The attention you brought by so proudly shutting down the lecture has only focused on your rudeness and idiocy, not the ethical questions of racial profiling. You wasted an opportunity to raise consciousness and have a healthy and enlightening debate about balancing civil liberties with crime-fighting.

    • Robert Boni says:

      Sounds like nothing has changed from your radical-liberal days there. The loudness and disruptiveness you proudly cite are still the norm. Although perhaps you have matured a bit.

      • Brown '17 parent says:

        i wasn’t “proudly” citing my past disruptiveness, I was only admitting some guilt of past disruptiveness, and accepting a small portion of the protestors’ argument that disruptiveness has some limited attention-getting virtues. However, I reject the Kelly shout-downers’ approach which went beyond that brief disruption that I would consider acceptable, to their fascistic selfish denial of any engagement in useful two-sided debate. That is the difference I see between valid (briefly disruptive) protest and what the ShouterDowners did.

  8. I recommend that people who support ‘stop and frisk’ Kelly’s so called

    ‘free speech’ check their racism. What happened to Kelly has nothing to do with constitutionally protected
    free speech which only prohibits the state from infringing on that
    right. In fact, violations of free speech are what Kelly and his NYPD
    routinely engage in against people and communities of color, in addition
    to other civil and human rights violations. The Federal court found
    that S&F is in fact, racial profiling and unconstitutional. The
    state did NOT threaten or put Kelley in prison for speaking. An outraged
    community LEGITIMATELY booed him off the stage. That is NOT preventing
    free speech, but exercising it – well done Brown students and Providence community!

    • So any self-defined and so called “outraged community” has the right to act out against anything they don’t like. By any means necesarry, right Pablo?

    • Africana protector says:

      I see how effective the lack of racial profiling is working in the Chicago wars among the population. Death is better than your warped liberal sense of profiling. Think before you act is not part of your makeup apparently.

    • Yeah, because in America, we believe in the first amendment so much that we run our academies by mob rule. Yeah, that makes perfect sense to me.

      Win in the arena of ideas, with debate, with words…not boos. You’re making fools of yourselves.

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      The Federal Court ruled that NYPD’s implementation of “stop and frisk” was unconstitutional. Terry v. Ohio is still alive and well, allowing police officers to briefly detain and “frisk” for weapons if the have articulable reasonable suspicion.

  9. All the protestors achieved was to allow Chris Paxson and Margarett Klawunn to pretend to be doing their jobs. But if they had done their jobs, there would not have been disruption and acrimony in the first place. This community event should have taken place before the lecture, if Chris and Margarett had been capable of anticipation. With them, it’s always damage control, because there always are damages.

  10. Protesting is nothing new at Brown and I’d say (for better or for worse) it’s to be expected. Activists stole the BDH when I was there to suppress other viewpoints. It was infantile, and counterproductive then. I’m all for protecting civil liberties, but I must say that I’m disappointed that Brown students have not thought of a more creative and effective way to protest speakers; certainly the technology exists for better mobilization of feet and for putting one’s dollars toward whatever the cause-of-the-day may be. The “yell-over-the-speaker” strategy is played-out, and seems more akin to an item to be scratched off one’s bucket list of things to do while at Brown. Fortunately, you can engage in this behavior from the relative safety of the Hill. In the real world, this sort of behavior gets one fired, arrested, or even…stopped and frisked.

    • that you mentioned the idea of more interesting mobilization, it made me envision a protest that involves flashing images of what Stop-and-Frisk looks like around Ray Kelly as he speaks. Thank you for the challenge–you are right. Protestors should strive for innovation. I will say that it takes another ‘played out’ yell-down for these challenges to come. Organizing is exhausting and thus people don’t usually spend time challenging themselves creatively in the process.

  11. It may be difficult for the University to bring controversial speakers to campus in the future, Cheit said, adding that “an invitation is not an endorsement” of an individual speaker’s positions or policies.
    Of course an invitation isn’t an endorsement. But this is mighty close to one: “New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly will speak about his eleven-year tenure as the head of the NYPD, and the strategies that have enabled the New York City Police Department to drive crime down by more than 30% since 2001 while defending New York from another terrorist attack.”

  12. I’m very disappointed this article did not capture the intense, intense support I felt in the room for the protester’s work – those quoted above were every instance of critique about the protest, while a majority of comments that were made last night were powerful statements in favor of it. This article doesn’t convey the snaps and tears I saw when people stood to share about how pertinent racial profiling has been to them or their communities, or the fact that professors themselves said they were proud of the protesters for standing up to what they believed in. Lots of great pro-protest statementswere made, but none well-conveyed in this article. It is extremely biased.

    • You have missed the point. It’s not about the support or opposition to the protesters; it’s about the support or opposition to a controversial policy that went unprobed because some, believing in the superiority of their beliefs, deemed it appropriate to shut down others’ speech. That’s wrong. Protest, argue, debate…don’t turn off the mic.

      • Baggage Carousel4 says:

        the administration turned off the mic. they could have kicked the protesters out of the room. perhaps their actions should be examined as well.

        • remain_in_light says:

          Is this true, the administration turned off the mic? Who and why? Paxson needs to come down hard on the right to free speech and open dialogue on a college campus. Yes, kick them out if they have no respect for others.

    • your expression of the strong feeling and emotional angst is a clear sign these students were whipped into an emotional state instead of being educated in the exchange of ideas – esp. ones you don’t understand or agree with.

      • Kevin Carty Kevin Carty says:

        Is not the emotional angst relevant? And, it’s pretty disrespectful to assume that upset protestors were simply “whipped” into an emotional state rather than speaking honestly.

    • Apparently you’re unaware that freedom, inasmuch as it means anything, is the freedom to do things with which other people disagree; it’s not determined by a show of hands of people who happen to be in a given room. That the people in this room who were wrong happened to constitute a majority does not make them right. That’s not a comment on the substance of the issue – racial profiling in the USA is none of my concern – but on the principle of whether or not those students who wished to hear this man speak should have the right to do so. In a free society, your case against that is indefensible.

  13. Russell Baruffi says:

    This is shameful. Listening, and crafting thoughtful hard questions, is the way to deal with disagreement. Shouting over your opponent in substitution of that skill demonstrates fear and weakness. This is disrespectful, arrogant and self-righteous, no different from Tea Party tactics. These students do not know Kelly or understand his ideas, and he is only a symbol for [something evil] to them: no different from Susan Warren or Dan Savage’s ideas may be a symbol of [fill in the blank evil] to Liberty students or Obamacare is a symbol of [fill in the blank evil] to Michelle Bachman’s constituency. Ray Kelly walked away with an honorarium and my (and others) respect for his civility; he is none the weaker. The real losers are 1) the students who feared his ideas so much that they failed to engage with them at the age of 20 and are now more weakly positioned to reason with those who disagree with them as they age, and 2) the many in the audience who were uncertain of their stance on these topics, and instead of having the chance develop a more nuanced opinion, were able to favorably observe Kelly’s MLK-style response to the mob’s unreasoned heckling. I am embarassed to be a Brown alum today.

    • Kevin Carty Kevin Carty says:

      Hi Russel,

      I disagree with the tactics used to shut down the Ray Kelly lecture, but the difference between this protest and protesting of Dan Savage is that the victims of Ray Kelly’s policies are never listened to or granted a platform, specifically because of the systemic marginalization of people of color, contributed to by racial profiling and policing. So, it’s pretty simplistic to look at this as simply an issue of political disagreement and speech denial as a result. In some ways, it is that, but it is ALSO an incident of marginalization, and I think we should see the protest within that framework as well.

      • Dear Kevin,
        It is hyperbolic to say the victims of Kelly’s policies are “never listened to or granted a platform.” A federal district court judge ruled that the city must cease its “stop-and-frisk” policy. This decisions has been halted by an appellate court, but surely a federal district court is, by anyone’s estimation, a platform.

    • why do you think the “mob” was “unreasoned”? why are people so reactionary to protest? why are people so offended by un-politeness? do you think everyone in the world holds equal power and we can all just politely debate differences? Don’t you understand that people without power must make disruption to join the conversation? not to mention these “unreasoned hecklers” went through more appropriate channels to protest the speaker (petitions, meetings, organizing) before deciding upon direct action.

      don’t respect ray kelly’s civility. im sure he was happy to walk away with a check and honorarium without having to say anything. his policies are responsible for the terrorizing of thousands of people. i’m ashamed at how short-sighted your conclusions are, as a graduate of brown.

      • Russell Baruffi says:

        To hear self-righteous 20-year old Ivy Leaguers identify their struggles with marginalized “people without power” is embarrassing and delusional. Blind in your self-righteousness and self-pity, you have utterly failed to understand both who has power and in how to use it. Standing on a stage, defending an indefensible idea before a group of intelligent, idealist, civil young people armed with tough questions and information is a position of inconceivable vulnerability. You blew it.

        There must be a place for unpopular, offensive, pornographic, revolutionary ideas to be aired, regardless of whether you or Pat Buchanan are their detractors. It is how we wrestle with complex, hard issues. Your precedent arguments and tactics, in another time and place, will be used to silence a socialist, or a gay rights activist, or a revolutionary whose time has not yet come. If this is what intellectual freedom looks like on a college campus, we need to recreate the Academy on some new ground where all ideas can be aired and argued by the fearless, and leave this to rot for the self-righteous intellectual cowards and bullies who inhabit it.

      • He received no freaking honorarium – lies.

    • BTW I intended to say “Elizabeth Warren”. I don’t even know who Susan Warren is.

  14. It’s hilarious to me that people are saying that “dialogue is not occurring” when there would have been NO university-wide dialogue on this issue WITHOUT the protest, LET ALONE country-wide dialogue. This issue has hit the major newspapers because of the protest and has sparked dialogue on this across the whole country. ALSO, dialogue was one of the things that we protesters were demanding, in the form of opening up/democratizing the way that Brown brings controversial speakers.

    Finally, the BDH misquoted me in this article and that’s not the only misrepresentation I see in this article. People need to get their facts straight.

    • Because no one was talking about stop-and-frisk before your little example of mobile protest theatre? You live under a rock then. And a lot of the attention in the media now has been on your thuggish behavior, not stop-and-frisk.
      The decision was made to bring Ray Kelly to speak on campus. You had an opportunity to question Kelly but you chose, instead, to not only shut him down but also shut down your fellow students who wanted the chance to question him. You really don’t care about democratizing anything. You only care about making sure that everyone only hears your side of the story — which you have already shared with us numerous times.

    • The dialogue is about your ridiculous attempt to suppress it, and how you failed.

    • Libby Tardell says:

      Brown 14
      You are a loser. Your friends who stood up and shouted like a bunch of brat idiots are also losers. You have made Brown University look like a loser school. Look at what all of your alumni on this thread, who actually work for a living, think about your loser actions. You will never survive in the real world if you get up and shout like an idiot with anyone you disagree with. I am sure you will aspire to be a professor at this school or other liberal loser schools because that is the only shot that you have in this world with your actions. I think you and your Brown University friends should take some time tomorrow, goto your favorite coffee shop, braid your ponytails, and decide whether you want to live the rest of your life in the loser liberal university system, which is fairytale land, or if you want to go out and work in the real world.

    • Alum in NYC says:

      This amuses me as a New Yorker because I’m pretty sure, even before this incident, that the defunct “Stop and Frisk” policy is not only a regular subject of discussion, but also a major feature in the NYC mayoral campaign. We’re talking posters, TV ad, televised and public debates – the whole nine yards. The “dialogue” that has been created on a national level really only serves to represent Brown University in a negative light. Protesting an unpopular (dare I say, downright wrong) policy is powerful and warranted, but heckling that person off the stage is truly unproductive. This incident makes it look like a bunch of whackadoo liberals threw a temper tantrum because they didn’t get their way instead of what it really was, which I’m sure was was well-intended and justified resistance.

  15. The heckler’s veto is alive and well at Brown. The infantile protesters and their faculty enablers might want to consider how they would feel if their favorite speaker were treated the way they treated Mr. Kelly.

  16. Wait, did I read correctly that a liberal arts school will create a list of “approved” speakers for the future so as not to offend minority brothers and sisters??? You’re not in favor of free speech or even dialogue on controversial subjects. You only want NOT to offend. How ridiculous. What an absolute crock. As vile as some may hold stop and frisk it’s far more vile not to put on your big boy pants and use you big boy words to argue against a policy. Those who participated in the protest were not “standing up for what they believe” — they were preventing others from engaging in a debate. Shame on them and any faculty members who encouraged this protest in form.

    An approved list of speakers for the future??????????? PLEASE.

    • it is merely ‘implicit’ that this is what will be done. Marion Orr was in a tough place and feeling pressure to speak, that is all. everyone needs to stop using this concept that was unconfirmed as target practice. jesus. focus on the full scope of the issue — we can do better.

    • I was there. Honestly, I think Orr was just being facetious. The article didn’t capture his tone.

    • Andrew – they were AFRAID of Ray Kelly!! He made them feel “threatened.” Let’s remember these kids were, what, six years old on 9/11/01? I agree they make me ill.

  17. Sam Davidoff-Gore says:

    A list of approved speakers is a terrible idea. No one has the right not to be offended and making a list of people whose views are not suitable to Brown’s campus is antithetical to the spirit of freedom that so permeates Brown’s campus. The University does need to consider how they advertise their events and what formats they use; however, at the end of the day, if we pretend to live in a vacuum and only listen to ideas that we agree with, then we will never change the world.
    SDG ’15

  18. D Portner '84 says:

    I am embarrassed for my alma mater. Again. How many times do these self-important, juvenile actions need to occur before Brown decides to remove people who obstruct the values of the University? These recurring, nationally-reported events serve to brand our university as a place that indulges idealistic but misguided students at the expense of valuable debate. The perpetrators ought to be expelled for placing their own agenda above the rights of the community. Going forward, students should be required to sign an oath of respect for free speech that stipulates they will not obstruct the proceedings of University-sponsored events, or not be allowed to attend.

    • “Students should be required to sign an oath of respect for free speech” is one of the crazier sentences I’ve seen in this space.

    • Libby Tardell says:

      D Portner, you should be ashamed of your alma mater. You probably worked hard at Brown and you are probably working your tail off in the real world. This entitled generation of idiot brats are giving Brown University a bad name. They will be thrust out in the real world to fail miserably when they are put in a room with someone they disagree with, especially if it is their boss.

    • How about being expelled?

  19. As a Brown graduate (undergrad and masters), it’s hard not to laugh at pampered playground that is Brown. We still refer to the place as Camp Bruno, so divorced from reality, so self-righteous, so indignant. Grow up Professor Li. You teach students to become ’emotionally triggered’ and then use that as an excuse when students act in such a disrespectful manner. In the real world, claiming an ’emotional trigger’ just doesn’t cut it. The Wall Street Journal nailed it when they wrote that “most Brown students have only a faint acquaintance with real life.” Way to go professor; keep insulating those kids at Camp Bruno.

  20. An outsider, all I can do is observe that, increasingly, many that represent to be anti-racist and anti-fascist seem to exclude from the norms of behavior that which they demand of others.

    To practice diversity and tolerance does not license censorship and intolerance in the name of such principles. Why are the rights of others that believe differently less valid?

    Often, these activists, that want to cram their visions of social justice down the throats of all, sadly show how ill prepared they are from their theories to succeed in the real world.

    • Get thee a bullhorn and scream this from the rooftops of Providence! Beautifully written, succinct and 100% on the mark.

    • Oh, the “anti-fascists” and the actual fascists are two sides of the same coin. It’s the same here in the UK, except the left in the US seems to have made a virtual art form of their moral superiority, to the point where even policies normal and decent people happily vote for can’t scape the scope of their demonisation. I’m not at all sure the American hard-left, or what amounts to it, might not actually be worse, because they can be more insidious in their ability to present themselves as the injured victims.

  21. A Concerned Citizen says:

    At Tuesdays event I witnessed a young Aisan male attempt to quiet the crowd thereby allowing Commissioner Kelly to speak. The young man was met with boos, jeers, and heckles. One heckler yelled, “Don’t you have an essay to write” followed by much laughter from the crowd. Later that evening I realized the heckler used the same misguided stereotyping that the protestors used against Commissioner Kelly. Seems like a double standard to me.

    • That’s okay, he’s Asian. Therefore he is privileged and a not a real “person of color”. His opinions do not matter.

    • remain_in_light says:

      This saddens me so deeply and is just so ugly. A Brown student making a racial slur against another Brown student in an auditorium, and is met with laughs. It tells the whole story of what is wrong at Brown in a couple short sentences. (and I think the writer meant to close the loop by perhaps including the stereotyping of ‘stop and frisk’.)

  22. bemusedalum says:

    The protesters felt “triggered” by Kelly’s presence, and one of them was worried about “the safety of my body on this campus”?! These kids sound like they need to be on meds. How are they ever going to function in the outside world?

  23. what the hell says:

    “Orr asked the students to submit a list of speakers whom they would not approve of coming to campus, adding that he never expected the intense reaction to Kelly’s event.”

    This is appalling.

    • I know, isn’t that appalling? I’m flabbergasted that a TEACHER would even think it. How frightening for our country that Orr is teaching our children.

  24. Really? You felt “triggered” by Kelly’s presence? Not only do you want to stop the guy from speaking, but even having him on campus where you can see him and be “triggered” is now a problem. Don’t minimize what it means to actually be triggered. People who are raped feel triggered when they are around the person who raped them. Unless Ray Kelly himself caused you actual physical damage, saying that you feel “triggered” is offensive to people who really have to deal with those emotions.

    • not sure who this guy is but he’s kind of a massive jerk

    • Hey Lex, considering that you’re a white male who has no idea what the actual experience of being sexually assaulted or being targeted and brutalized by police based on the color of your skin is like, I suggest you stay out of abstract analogy-world and stick to what you actually know about being triggered (which is very little). Your comments are offensive to people who really have to deal with these emotions.

      • Dingus:

        Your name says it all, and your comments just serve to back it up.

      • Who are you to say he’s not a victim of sexual assault? I’m so tired of everyone assuming that just because someone is white, or male, or both that they have never had anything terrible happen in their lives. If you desire respect for your personal experiences and struggles, you need to have an open mind about the experiences of others as well.

        • but i’m a white male too. does that make it better?

          • i’m just saying we should listen to people when they are like, “hey, bringing and paying people with racist and dehumanizing ideas/policies to speak on campus makes me feel like my university isn’t looking out for me. like, to put my human rights up for debate is fun for you but not for me.” ya dig?

        • also, i think its pretty safe to say Lex here has not been sexually assaulted nor targeted by police.

  25. May I suggest some speakers Brown my find more amenable to them such as Bill Ayers,Valerie Jarret,Barack Hussein Obama and stay away from at all costs anyone who represents freedom of liberty and freedom of speech.

  26. I think it’s utterly disgusting, and by that I mean physically sickening, that a supposedly reputable university has chosen to admit children – for as they act, so they must be judged – who believe it is within the pale of acceptable behaviour to shut down a talk from someone with whom they disagree. “Emotionally triggered”? What are these people? Are they even people, worthy of the name, to debase themselves by ascribing to themselves such a base incapacity to maintain rational capacity in the face of challenge? They have no place within academia, and if academia collaborates with them, it becomes the worst of the losers. If I had a degree from this so-called university, I’d be rather tempted to burn it.

  27. Sure its important to discuss and listen to other people’s views. But when these people are clearly racists, should we still just discuss with them and listen to their views?

    Kelly sponsored a stop and frisk program which was clearly had racist and extremely prejudicial. , (See

    Some people’s views are so far from what’s just and correct, that engaging them in debate does nothing more than legitimize their views. That’s why the US government refuses to negotiate with terrorists.

    What if Brown had invited Hitler to give a talk on campus? Instead of protesting, should students just listen and engage him in a debate??

    Freedom of speech and intellectual discovery is an important value, but at some point, you have to draw a line.

  28. It is very comforting to see the large number of people here who continue to see free speech as a sacred right.

  29. Nancy Jakubowski - Brown staff says:

    This story might serve as an interesting counterpoint to current events: Note that there was some violence associated with Malcolm X’s talk, but perpetrated on one individual: “Pierce’s essay, the first written by a female student to appear in the Brown Daily Herald,
    sparked controversy on campus and was linked to the stabbing of a
    female student, a mysterious case of attempted murder unsolved to this
    day.” (from My understanding is that the victim was the roommate of Katherine Pierce. She was
    the same height, with the same hair color & a similar coat. One might assume Katherine Pierce was the target & the stabber mistook the roommate for her. The girl recovered but I don’t know any more of the story (sorry that I can’t remember where I got this detail on the crime).

    My question to those who feel justified in preventing certain people from speaking at Brown – would you accept the tactics you successfully rallied against Ray Kelly being used against liberal speakers here? I support the people’s right to loudly & vigorously protest those they view as reprehensible, but I also believe it’s important to know thine enemy & to provide a forum in which to confront them directly & question their positions through a meaningful exchange of ideas. Would you shut down a visit by President Obama because of his drone policies? I don’t know if a group’s pain or a person’s inherent evil ever trumps engaging in a civil dialog but do “stop & frisk” & Ray Kelly really rise to that level? If they do, I don’t know what opposing voices out there are so innocuous that they’ll be acceptable to invite to Brown.

  30. marx_and_hitler_were_losers says:

    Brown Shirt U has a new PC(Political Control) Department run by these heckling smirking ‘students’.
    I recommend all who work or attend Brown submit ANY public actions/activities you are thinking of doing to the the new PC department on campus for approval lest you be castigated or worse. They are running the show and you WILL pay a price if you do not obtain their approval.
    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

  31. marx_and_hitler_were_losers says:

    Gotta love the phony cries of racism in these comments….
    Americans of African descent are
    The President of the US…
    Attorney General of the US…
    The Ambassador to the UN…
    Nominated to be the Director of Homeland Security…
    You are stuck in amber.
    As poorgressives like to say…time to evolve!

  32. Libby Tardell says:

    Brown university

  33. I am ashamed of my alma mater.

  34. One can’t escape the conclusion that Administration officials are in fact complicit in condoning and perhaps encouraging the protesters’ behavior. Brown’s endowment is last in the ivies and I suspect that chasm will continue to grow. Brown’s ability to be effective in its mission will be diminished.

  35. john cosgrove says:

    There is obviously no free speech at Brown University. What a joke! These spoiled little rich kids who are really a bunch of cowards and thugs hiding behind the group.
    The students in the room demonstrated their abject ignorance. Probably the majority of those hypocrites will benefit from the absolute hard work and bravery of NYPD having a proactive policy on gun control.
    And oh, by the way for the majority of morons in that room-“Stop and Frisk” has saved more minorities from losing their lives than white people because the white people do not go into the neighborhoods where stop and frisk is done. And oh, by the way you very “well informed” students/thugs, a federal appeals court has thrown out the decision of that activist judge who ruled against “stop and frisk”.
    My advice to the hecklers, spend more time in the library and less disrupting a public free speech event-especially since most of you don’t have a clue of the realities on the street as you are all coddled like jerks.
    John Cosgrove, MD

  36. Bob from NY says:

    Read the news from today folks. Judge,and I’m embarrassed to call her that, shiendlin, one of the most overturned jurists to embarrass the bench in New York was not only overturned…AGAIN, but kicked off the case. An unheard of sanction. In a unanimous decision the appeals jurists found her arrogant,elitist, biased self serving agenda inspired ruling SO fraught with impropriety that they kicked her off the case. Browns Nazi Brownshirts apparently owe Commissioner Kelly and those who wished to listen,learn and question an apology. And to the childish protestors who cry that he should not be allowed to speak unchallenged, I have two questions for you. Did you make the same demand when a PROVEN anti Semitic racist clown named screwy Louie Farrakhan disgraced your Campus, or liberal speakers? And number two, unchallenged?! What the hell do ya think the question answer segment was for!! The “I’m sorry I scared you” and “dictate who you want us to invite” mea culpa in a Campus that USED to pride itself on the idea of open discussion is scary indeed. This wasn’t a win for free speech. It was a win for childish,immature behavior that would have made the authors of Kristalnacht proud.

  37. john cosgrove says:

    Good point Bob! The Brown students displayed their ignorance and they clearly are a bunch of cowards who were coddled growing up. I would never hire any one of the morons in that room.

  38. 1) Despite their age, these people are children. If a speaker is invited, reason and virtue demand that they be allowed to speak.
    2) these “shut downs” are a pedantic ritual of competitive demonstration of “virtue” for the clique trained in the practice of acting out the argument. It’s a sort of Gautag without hand-held torches.

  39. Liberal fascists are anti-freedom. I bet Brown would never shout down a Muslim who advocated the destruction of the West.

  40. I am sure that there must be other people out there on this planet who are just as arrogant and self-righteous as these 18 and 19 year old puppies who have not yet accomplished a damn thing on this planet other than self-gratifying “shaky-voiced” emoting, and who undoubtedly have not earned 90% or more of the wealth that pays their way at an institution like Brown. I am sure there are such astoundingly arrogant people here and there.

    I do wonder — is there anyone on this planet who is more arrogant and self-righteous, with less reason to be, than these children (of whom I met many in my edu-years)? And, with behavior like this, they are children, make no mistake. Anyone? ANY-one at all out there??

    Because frankly, I did not think there was then, and I sure don’t think so now.

  41. Charles Kenney says:

    Our son graduated from Brown in ’10. I am astonished by the depth of the ignorance of these students who prevented the police commissioner of America’s largest city from speaking. This infringement on the First Amendment is a disgrace. The simple fact that these students who prevented him from speaking do not understand how utterly childish they are is frightening. How in God’s name did these people get into Brown in the first place? And the student who called Kelly a terrorist. Shame on her. Shame on all of these students; shame on Brown for permitting a tiny minority of ignorant students to trample on our nation’s precious freedom of speech.

  42. LarrySingleton says:

    Liberals 1
    Democracy and Free Speech 0

  43. So, these “open-minded, Liberal” students not only prevented this man from speaking, they deprived every single person in the audience of the opportunity to hear what he had to say.

    The administrators at this school need to put on their big boy pants and stand up for the rights of EVERYONE to hear differing opinions. This isn’t Liberalism, it’s some bizarre form of Group Think.

  44. Just passing by says:

    To all NYPD haters:

    I hope next time you’re in NYC, you’ll get robbed, mugged and shot.

  45. So, these “open-minded, Liberal” students not only prevented this man from speaking, they deprived every single person in the audience of the opportunity to hear what he had to say.

    The administrators at this school need to put on their big boy pants and stand up for the rights of EVERYONE to hear differing opinions. This isn’t Liberalism, it’s some bizarre form of group think.

  46. john cosgrove says:

    Again, I challenge the morons in that room who trampled on the First Amendment to debate. I have not gotten any challengers. So it validates what I said earlier about all of you coddled, spoiled, intellectually challenged brats-you have no guts, you have no honor and you have no brains.

    John Cosgrove, MD

  47. There is a very real underlying and important debate to be had about stop and frisk. Unfortunately, that debate has been marginalized due to the actions of the protesters. So on the plus side, some overindulged students were able to have a feel good moment. On the downside, the university’s reputation for open debate of ideas has been tarnished and our institution’s ability to effect meaningful change has been diminished. As a result, as an alumnus that cares deeply about the University, I am having an “emotional trigger” of my own. I am really, really angry.

  48. streetparade says:

    Let’s do the math. In the early ’90s there were around 2,200 homicides each year in NYC. In recent years it hovers around 500 (when you exclude 9/11). So over the course of roughly 20 years something on the order of 30-35,000 lives have been saved. The vast majority of those saved lives are young, black males.

    Do you think there might be some connection between the dramatic drop in NYC’s crime rate, which began during the Giuliani administration, and the type of policing which was put into practice at that time? Nah….I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

    Carry on with your hysterical “carrying on”.

  49. What in the world does ‘RACE’ have to do with Ray Kelly?
    These students are bashing the individual that is best able to protect them, their families and friends from terrorist attacks. Had Ray Kelly been the police commissioner in Boston, the Marathon bombing would never have occurred.
    What is Brown University teaching these kids?

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