Amid Protests, Ben Shapiro Delivers Controversial On-Campus Lecture
Conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro delivered a lecture on diversity and political correctness in front of a packed room Wednesday night, despite a sea of protesters banging on the walls and doors of 121 Sparks chanting everything from “You suck!” to “Black lives matter” to blasting “Work” by Rihanna. Before College Republicans President Bradley Simmons could even finish introducing Shapiro, chants of “Let us in!” came cascading into the lecture hall from the corridor, to which Shapiro replied “No.”
Shapiro finally took the floor with an announcement regarding the Abby Wambach lecture down the road in Eisenhower Auditorium, and that he hoped “she didn’t drive there herself.”
Shapiro said he would be discussing topics including diversity, white privilege, trigger warnings, and safe spaces; all of which make up his “Hall of Fame of Stupidity.” Then, after giving a preemptive trigger warning to the audience, Shapiro jumped into his first topic: diversity (the title of his talk was When Diversity Becomes a Problem: The Fascist Nature of Liberalism).
Shapiro began by attacking the left’s definition of diversity, which he claimed is “not about ideological diversity, just race.” He also accused the left of being racist for believing that “values don’t matter, just skin color.” Shapiro stated that the left believes “not in equal opportunity, just equal outcome;” meaning that they don’t care about creating a fair, equal playing field for all, only that everyone is equal in all aspects that success is measured upon.
Next up was white privilege, which he defined as a made-up force that inherently makes non-whites worse off. “We live in the freest country in the history of the world,” he said, and that we are all free to pursue success. Shapiro claimed that the idea of white privilege is unjustly used as an excuse, and is used by non-whites to shut down debates with white people. He equated the use of white privilege in debate as saying “you don’t get to talk to me because you’re white.”
Shapiro offered an alternative to white privilege which he designated “two parent privilege.” Under the concept of “two parent privilege,” Shapiro said that whether or not a child (regardless of race) grows up in a two-parent or single-parent household is a much better indicator of “privilege” than whether or not someone is white. He backed up his claims with statistics that claimed black children who are raised in two-parent households are only 7 percent more likely to live in poverty, while white children that are raised in single-parent households are 22 percent more likely to live in poverty.
The lecture then moved on to the topic of trigger warnings. Shapiro defined someone who “becomes triggered” as someone who cannot listen to a dissenting opinion. He stated that when someone hears something they don’t agree with (i.e. is triggered/offended) they call it out as a micro-aggression, meaning they interpret it as a personal attack. Shapiro brought up the personal example of when he triggered a male-to-female transgender by referring to them as “sir” on air during CNN Headline News. Shapiro claims he was then threatened with physical violence by the transgender individual after they told him “if you don’t cut that out you’ll go home in an ambulance,” and again on Twitter where they stated they wanted to curb-stomp Shapiro.
Shapiro then transitioned into safe spaces, which he described as a made-up phenomenon where people go when they are triggered and feel like the victim of an offensive attack. Shapiro discussed the dangers of safe spaces by explaining how they regard victim-hood as a virtue, when in reality they are nothing more than a victim of hypersensitivity, according to Shapiro.
The lecture ended with an open-question forum where students were allowed to ask Shapiro about various topics ranging from Donald Trump to antisemitism to corporate free speech. However, one student’s question stood out among the other — well, not his actual question, but the ensuing situation.
After asking about Shapiro’s views on marijuana (spoiler alert: he doesn’t like it), a student attempted to walk across the front of the room past Shapiro to return to his seat only to be stopped and redirected by his security guards. After exclaiming “Don’t worry I’m not trying to attack you, bro!” Shapiro replied “Yeah, I know, because you’re high” to which the audience erupted in laughter and applause as the stoner-student proudly made his way back to his seat.
Despite the title of Shapiro’s lecture, diversity is not the problem. Diversity is simply the idea that some people think, believe, and behave differently than you. The real problem is how we react to diversity.
College is an extraordinary experience where you should be able to explore and experiment with new ideas, challenge the status quo, and challenge your own thoughts and beliefs. Instead, college campuses across the nation are being repressed by political correctness and hypersensitivity; pseudonyms for the restriction of free speech. This is Shapiro’s salient point, controversial topic notwithstanding.
Free speech is at the core of diversity. When individuals’ right to freely express themselves and their beliefs is suppressed, then diversity is dead. Bullshit speech codes are put in place by universities in order to “protect its students” because they believe that we are too weak to be able to live with freedom of speech (Penn State currently has a red light rating from FIRE, which evaluates campus speech codes and whether they’re restrictive of freedom of speech. Red is the worst rating.)
One can disagree with 100% of what Shapiro says politically but agree with his right to come here and say it — just like it’s the right of the people in the hallway to blare Rihanna.
The fact of the matter is you are going to encounter some ideas you like, and some that you don’t. Everyone has the right to freedom of speech, but no one has the right to not be offended. Being offended is what comes with having freedom of speech; sometimes people are going to say shit that pisses you off. I was offended when our very own school newspaper published an editorial advocating for censorship and restriction of free speech. Do I believe that they should be silenced so my feelings don’t get hurt? No, of course not. Sometimes you encounter ideas you like, and sometimes you encounter (really bad) ideas that you don’t. Free speech creates diversity, and diversity allows us all to grow into better, smarter, happier people.
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About the Author
Bryce Jordan Stevenson is a Penn State junior whose name may or may not sound a bit familiar to you.
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