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Hunter Fast '12: Young's banishment gets old

Many of my friends at other colleges have related to me stories of Christian fundamentalist protestors visiting to lambast them for the sins of showing their ankles and listening to hip-hop music. In light of this, they are invariably surprised and disappointed that I have had few interactions with evangelical demonstrators, despite Brown's reputation as a liberal bastion of debauchery and free love.

Imagine my delight, then, when I learned that Chris Young, a noted anti-abortion activist and repeated candidate for government office, was running once again for mayor of Providence. Admittedly, he is no Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church fame, but with his assertion that State Rep. Raymond J. Sullivan Jr., D-Coventry, is a Satanist (note: he isn't) and his belief in 9/11 conspiracy theories, he would certainly suffice.

Imagine also my disappointment upon finding that the ability of Brown students to witness his demonstrably colorful political character would be severely curtailed, as Young was banned from campus after disrupting a health care forum in Andrews Hall last November. While his conduct at the forum was obnoxious, and DPS officers were fully within their rights to remove him, banning Young from campus altogether is absurd.

First and foremost, there is no way Young poses a danger to the Brown community that could justify such measures. He is often accused of having "tossed a pro-life video at" Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., conjuring images of Muntadhar al-Zaidi and the shoe he pelted at George W. Bush in December 2008. A review of the footage from the incident, however, shows that Young only threw the video a few feet — hardly a dangerous action.

Furthermore, the no-trespass notice issued against him applies not only to Brown's property on College Hill, but also to Brown's extensive land holdings throughout Providence. Young himself has stated that he has avoided extensive travel within the city for fear of violating the ban. Because of these holdings, the outright prohibition of Young's presence on or near Brown property has had the unintended consequence of inhibiting the free exchange of ideas even off campus, thus further violating one of Brown's highest ideals.

Given that no one can seem to procure a justification for deeming Young to be a legitimate threat to the Brown community, many, including Young himself, have speculated that the no-trespass notice was politically motivated. Indeed, his advocacy of the taxation of Brown's endowment and the disarming of DPS officers lends some small degree of weight to these accusations. Thus, since DPS officers are still capable of removing Young if he were to act disruptively at another Brown event, the fact that Brown has gone so far as to file a no-trespass notice against him only serves to bring the University into disrepute.

Additionally, the presence of Young's unorthodox views would be a welcome solution for what has become a dearth of strongly conservative views on social issues on campus. While his opinions on various issues often flirt with insanity, one cannot say that Brown has a profusion of better options vis-a-vis abortion and same-sex marriage.

Indeed, disseminating Young's views within Brown's political landscape would significantly transform our beloved left-wing echo chamber, enabling us to strengthen our intellectual mettle by confronting those ideas that are the most difficult to assail: those that are completely and utterly irrational.

In light of that statement, I should take a moment here to outline a few of Young's ideas. Young's campaign Web site features an entire section dedicated to the rationale against Sen. Jack Reed's, D-R.I., re-election. Among other disorganized thoughts, Young points out that during Reed's tenure, gasoline prices and property taxes have both roughly tripled. While he does not appear to comprehend the difference between correlation and causation, this misunderstanding is a mere hors d'oeuvre compared to the conspiracy theories that he regularly concocts.

Case in point: When he commandeered the health care forum to advance his own agenda, Young accused Planned Parenthood of using legal abortion to commit ethnic cleansing. What is his proof? By his assertion, African-Americans make up 37 percent of abortions while only making up 13 percent of the population, all the while ignoring the fact that income and other variables certainly play a role.

His implication of Planned Parenthood as a vast genocidal conspiracy lends itself to his overall economic view that abortion is to blame for many of the world's current financial problems. Given the plethora of views as to the cause of the current financial crisis, from lack of financial regulation to corporate greed to groupthink on Wall Street, why not introduce Young's abortion theory into the exchange?

At the very least, he could serve as a caution to Brown students on the dangers of disruptive political tactics. After all, if one can only advance his or her opinions by calling police officers fascists or by appealing to conspiracy theories, then valid objections like those to abortion become defined by these tactics and are thus relegated to the realm of the absurd.

Hunter Fast '12 personally finds pop culture's advocacy of a party-based economy to be more problematic. He can be reached at hunter_fast at


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