On Tuesday, the Democrat-dominated California legislature, conducting a hearing with the title, “Combating Hate While Protecting the Constitution,” limited Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro to two minutes to give a rarely-heard conservative viewpoint on free speech, but they still got an earful, as Shapiro admonished the legislature to do their jobs, ensure that all citizens’ First Amendment rights should be protected and the “heckler’s veto” should be stopped. Shapiro was invited to speak by GOP state senator John Moorlach.
The female moderator began, “Mr. Shapiro, your name has come up a few times; before today I didn’t know who you were. I heard from Mr. Moorlach. Nice to meet you.”
Shapiro, responded, “Nice to meet you as well.”
The moderator said, “The floor is yours. I would like, just to ask, you don’t have to, because this is free speech time, the subject matter is ‘Combating Hate While Protecting The Constitution,’ and if you have a couple minutes worth of ideas about that that would be great. If you’d rather not talk on that, that’s okay, too.
Shapiro grinned, “Oh, no, I’m perfectly happy to talk about that.”
Shapiro, in typical rapid-fire style, stated:
I appreciate the 120 seconds. Your job, obviously here at the legislature, is to ensure that our freedom of expression is maintained, that our First Amendment rights are maintained, and what that means, first and foremost, in my experiences at college campuses, is that the “heckler’s veto” must be stopped.
So, I was at Cal State Los Angeles, in February 2016, and there was almost a riot there, and the police were not allowed to do their jobs, and students were physically assaulted in the crowd. It is the job of this legislature to ensure that police can do their jobs, and when they do do their jobs, and they’re allowed to do that at places like UC Berkeley, everything goes fine.
And I’d like to make a point here about UC Berkeley: the reason it cost $600,000 to bring me to UC Berkeley was not because of me, okay? Everybody keeps suggesting that it was because I was coming; I’m so controversial; I’m so terrible. I came exactly one year before, and it cost this many dollars (Shapiro closed his hand and raised it), it cost zero dollars for security at UC Berkeley. The reason it cost $600,000 at UC Berkeley is because Antifa and violent groups had decided that Berkeley was their domain, and they were going to be able to ride roughshod over law enforcement there.
And this does bring up one final point I want to make in the long period of time I have to discuss, and that is the problem with a legislative body such as yours trying to draw lines specifically about what hate speech constitutes, because the fact is that one of the reasons groups like Antifa show up is not because they know who I am, it’s because they’ve been told by people that I am promulgating hate speech, which is utterly false and utterly untrue.
There are people who say vile things and with whom I disagree, among them people like Milo Yiannopoulos, who sent me a picture of a black baby on the day of my child’s birth, because I wasn’t sufficiently standing up for the white population, supposedly.
But that does not mean that the legislature gets to decide what hate speech is. I have been labeled a promulgator of hate speech when I was the number one target of hate speech, according to the ADL, among the journalistic community in 2016.
So let me suggest that as a legislature, your chief job is to ensure that my taxpayer dollars in this state go toward making sure that people like me and people with whom I disagree get to speak in places like college campuses, and not toward regulating what speech you find good and what speech you find bad, because it’s a really dangerous business. There’s speech I don’t like; there’s speech you don’t like, but if we can’t agree there’s a difference between speech and violence, we’re not going to be able to have a free state, let alone a free country.
Interviewed later by a reporter who asked why he had decided to come to Sacramento to testify, Shapiro responded, “I was asked by legislative Republicans to come here; they wanted to actually have me on one of the panels, but Democrats wouldn’t allow that sort of thing because that might be too much free speech … so I was glad to hear from all those people, but it would have been nice if they would have allowed one person from the Right to actually talk for more than 120 seconds.”
Video below of Shapiro’s two-minute testimony: