Free Speech at Beijing University

AFP headline: “Demolition of Peking University message boards sparks outrage.” It says something that my first thought here was that the online message board was shut down rather than the physical gathering space. I’m generally sympathetic to students who are seeing part of their campus tradition destroyed in the name of a “clean up.” But at first glance, the administration’s reasoning seems somewhat reasonable:

“These notice boards had not served as places for the exchange of thoughts and ideas since the late 1990s, and were instead filled with commercial advertisements for apartments and training courses,” Xinhua quoted a university spokesman as saying. “More and more students are using the Internet to spread information and opinions, so there is no need to keep them,” he said.

The problem with this argument is that the online boards are easy to monitor, while the physical ones may be more open and easier to access anonymously.

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