On Thursday, September 14, Ben Shapiro, a conservative-Jewish writer, spoke to a crowd of about 1,000 spectators at Berkeley University, after being invited by College Republicans and the Young Americans’ Foundation. This occurred while students and other demonstrators protested his appearance on the public university campus. Many claimed that his speech was hateful and unwelcoming. Some held signs and posters calling him a fascist and white supremacist. Despite resentment to Alt-Right speaker Milo Yiannopoulos in February, Berkeley decided to allow Shapiro to speak as a part of their “Free Speech Year,” which takes place at a time when public and private universities across the country have been denigrated for suppressing free speech with restrictions and “safe spaces.” In preparation for chaos, the university has spent over $600,000 in security and police as well as installing barricades to block looters, vandals, and those who may attempt to assault attendees. The Berkeley Police Department also decided to supply their officers with pepper spray for the first time in 20 years as a means to counter violent individuals. Shapiro spoke at the event without interruption. Nine people outside of the venue were arrested: charges include carrying unauthorized weapons, disturbing the peace, and assault of an officer. Shapiro heavily praised police for keeping order.
As Editor and Chief of Daily Wire, Shapiro has faced opposition. Institutions and universities like DePaul, University of Wisconsin Madison, and CAL State LA have tried to block him from speaking at events. He has gained both notoriety and criticism for advocating individual morality and freedoms over victimization and equality efforts. Shapiro has cited events and studies to debunk policies of “the left:” a group who, he argues, suppresses free speech and individual liberties. He has spoken critically about abortion, gender movements, institutional racism, social justice, universal healthcare, Antifa, and social economics. Shapiro is unique compared to many conservatives because he does not completely abide to “the right’s” platform. Following the 2016 Presidential Election, Shapiro admitted that he didn’t vote for winning candidate, Donald Trump, citing conflicts in his character and policies. In the wake of racially fueled tragedies like Charleston and Charlottesville, he has denounced speakers like Yiannopoulos and organizations like the Alt-Right as thugs, who utilize violence and conflict in an attempt to install a white national identity. Shapiro has shown ambiguity towards other social opinions, like gay marriage or public v.s. charter education, claiming that the state should limit involvement in marriage and education since, “the government sucks at everything anyways.”
Ben has welcomed dissenters to challenge his straightforward stances, so long as they do so with decency. Most of speeches include a question-answer session for the crowd. During these, he gives speaking priority to those who disagree with his viewpoints, even though objectors may find it difficult to counter Shapiro’s wit and evidence. Nevertheless, the conservative speaker lambasts those who do not contribute to discussion but protest, create havoc, and attempt to block his appearance. While protests and police confrontations were taking place on Thursday, Ben comically scorned Antifa for their attempt to stop his speech, saying, “All of America is watching because you guys are so stupid. It’s horrifying, I am grateful, and you can all go to hell, you pathetic, lying, stupid jackasses.” Though his statement may seem rather ironic based on his views of decency, Shapiro demonstrates that efforts to undermine basic intellect as well as constitutional liberties granted to Americans are morally paramount to one’s feelings.
Credits: CNN, FoxNews.com, and The Hill