The treatment that conservative speakers have gotten on college campuses over the past few years is not only disappointing, it’s frightening.
Ben Shapiro is probably the most notable example of this phenomenon, and it’s absolutely amazing to me just how far these people are willing to go to stop a person they don’t agree with from speaking.
Ben Shapiro is an Orthodox Jew. As a religious Jewish man myself, I respect that immensely. And while I may not necessarily agree with everything Shapiro has to say, his views are fairly conventional for a conservative and certainly nothing alarming.
But don’t tell that to the campus activists.
Nearly everywhere Shapiro goes, there are threats of violence, rabid protests, attempts at shouting down. It would be scary if it wasn’t so sad.
Schools have often forced groups who invited Shapiro to either downgrade to a smaller building or go off campus entirely to avoid commotion. There have also been numerous instances of groups having to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for extra security based on anticipation of violence from those attempting to keep Shapiro from giving a speech.
None of these things are acceptable and constitute what is commonly known as a “heckler’s veto,” meaning that those who yell and shout the loudest get what they want. It is like giving into your three-year old when she is screaming for soda at 2AM. It will shut her up at that moment, but just sets a terrible precedent since she now knows all she has to do is throw a tantrum to get her way.
Between all of that and the constant anti-semitism lobbed his way by the alt-right, Shapiro has absorbed a tremendous onslaught, but carried on nonetheless.
And as tough as I’m sure it is fort him at times, what he’s doing is the ONLY way to handle this insanity.
The second people back down in the face of threats, the sooner the bullies know they can get what they want with threats. The second the bullies know they can get what they want with threats, that’s when they know they can stop literally anybody or anything if they just imply that they might cause havoc.
You give in to that, and soon enough, you don’t have free speech anymore. You just have a vicious, angry mob deciding what is acceptable to say. Conversations cease to exist, and all you are left with is the thought and language police, ready to punish you for anything and everything they deem not worthy of discussion.
What they will not do, of course, is stand up and make passionate counter-arguments. Because that requires real thought and discipline. Easier to just repeat a catchphrase, throw on a black mask, and yell and scream regarding a subject or a person you know absolutely nothing about.
I salute Ben Shapiro for battling against anti-semitism and anti-free speech forces, even at great risk to his own personal well-being. No doubt he knows exactly what is at stake here and understands it is far more important than just what happens with him.
Our country was founded on freedom of speech, not freedom to avoid being offended. Somewhere along the way, a lot of people on college campuses have seemed to forget that.
And I’m glad Shapiro has seen fit to do his part to remind them.