On Wednesday, conservative firebrand and Daily Wire editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro spoke to the hundreds of students crowded into a lecture hall at Penn State. Before the event even began, students formed large lines on campus, waiting outside to hear the conservative speaker. The speech was sponsored by the Young America’s Foundation as part of the Fred. R. Allen Freedom Lecture series.
As the president of Penn State Republicans began to introduce Shapiro, shouting began reverberating throughout the lecture hall. Throngs of social justice warriors decided to assemble outside raising their voices in protest.
“I find it astonishing when people decide to yell outside,” Shapiro remarked, as a mob of protesters attempted to drown out his voice with chants, screams, and high-pitched yelling. “The attempt to shut down open debate is the mark of ideological fascists," said Shapiro, calling the riotous action the “hall of fame of stupidity.”
“The attempt to shut down open debate is the mark of ideological fascists."
Amidst the intermittent eruptions outside, Shapiro proceeded to calmly explain the themes of his speech. A few words in, the mob shouted in unison: “Let us in!” The students inside appeared visibly rattled. With the increasingly forceful and disruptive demands of the mob outside, it was easy to forget you were on an American college campus. Again, the mob issued their demand: “Let us in!”
Defiantly, Shapiro replied: “No!”
Recalling a similar experience at Cal State University Los Angeles, Shapiro quipped, “These protesters are nothing; you should have been at Cal State... they barricaded themselves and assaulted people.” It “was almost a riot,” he added.
The speaker, however, pointed to one key difference here. “Unlike” Cal State LA, here “the administration helped set up the lecture.”
Again, the pulsating sound of chanting invaded the room. “Shut it down,” the protesters yelled from outside the lecture hall. “Shut it down!”
Shapiro used the disruption as an instructional moment. They’re “proving my point” about Leftist fascist tactics to suppress free speech, he noted. “No, I didn’t hire these people.”
Shortly after that pronouncement, situational irony settled in. A girl with a disturbingly high-pitched voice broke into the lecture hall and shouted “Stop!” When the crowd giggled, she tried again “Stop!”
“Doesn’t she have a quilt to knit or something,” Shapiro joked, pointing to her seemingly disheveled faux-fashionable hipster visage.
The protesters appeared to be popping out of random doors of the lecture hall. “It’s fun. It’s like whack a mole,” he added, making light of an increasingly tense situation. “You never know which exit they’re coming out of.”
Next came shouts of “Black Lives Matter,” compounding the effects of a seemingly endless loop of repetitive chanting.
“It is mildly disrupting. I will say,” disclosed Shapiro, unable to project his voice above the collective cacophony outside.
Before long, things suddenly escalated. A few protesters broke through the doors again. This time, it was a group of young men. As security quickly scrambled to thwart a potential stampede into the room one man shouted, “Come out here bitch!”
The insults and threats continued pouring out from outside until security guards neutralized the situation and sealed the doors.
The crowd went silent. Shapiro did his best to maintain his composure. “Security issue,” he explained, alleviating the palpable anxiety in the room.
If it wasn’t for the battalion of private security guards and university police, Shapiro would have likely been assaulted or worse. The congregation of students inside appeared to be at risk as well.
Thankfully, the security team responded swiftly, mitigating the clear threat.
When Shapiro began speaking again, the Leftist menagerie of student-activists and social justice warriors activated Plan B: noise pollution. Banging on the doors aggressively, the mob outside attempted to flood the room with noise. The synchronized banging had an ominous religious tone to it. It was as if every word uttered by Shapiro was an act of blasphemy.
Nonetheless, Shapiro diffused the tension in the room yet again with a light-hearted quip. “Do they assign homework at this school?” Shapiro asked facetiously.
“Do they give homework at this school?” asks @benshapiro at Penn State as protestors chant outside the lecture hall and pound on the door.— YAF (@yaf) April 7, 2016
Concluding his speech, Shapiro asserted: “It makes them feel good, this sense of victimhood...doing violence to your political opponent.”
When asked during the Q&A session about the complications of confronting Leftism fascism, Shapiro answered, "You have to walk into the fire."