Monday morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Daily Wire Editor-in Chief Ben Shapiro blasted the “snowflakes” who charged the stage to stop Shakespeare In the Park’s production of Julius Caesar, in which an actor resembling President Trump plays Caesar, who is stabbed to death in the play. Shapiro also ripped MSNBC’s Joy Reid for her comments on Saturday in which she attacked Rep. Steve Scalise while he lay fighting for his life after being shot by a left-wing assailant.
Host Mika Brzezinski noted the Julius Caesar protesters had made statements such as that the play was the “normalization of political violence against the right, and “The blood of Steve Scalise is on your hands.” The protesters targeted the play again on Sunday, the night of the play’s last performance.
Introducing Shapiro, host Joe Scarborough noted various protests the Left had launched against the Right, including the Berkley protests and the protest against Charles Murray in Vermont, while noting Shapiro had accused the alt-right of adopting the tendencies of the far-left. He turned to Shapiro, saying, “Talk about it.”
I’ve spent my career opposing idiot snowflakery. I go around and I speak at places like Cal State Los Angeles, and there’s a near-riot there; I go and speak at the University of Wisconsin; people try to storm the stage. I’ve always said this kind of stuff is not free speech, when you’re trying to censor somebody else’s free speech.
And then the Right does it, and shockingly there are members of the right, mainstream members of the right, who say, “Well, you know, this is, turnabout is just fair play. Well, no. If it’s wrong when the Left does it, it’s wrong when you do it. This idiotic notion that trying to promote snowflakery from the Right is somehow going to combat the snowflakery from the left, it’s so stupid. Especially because this kind of stuff hasn’t helped the Left. Even Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren came out against Antifa and people trying to shut down Ann Coulter at Berkeley.
If the Right starts to embrace the same tactics that some members of the Left embrace in shutting down free speech in the name of shutting down hate speech, then the Right is going to be just as guilty as the Left in this political impasse we now find ourselves in.
Scarborough noted that over the weekend, Shapiro had been bashed by the alt-right, not genuine conservatives, for slamming the protesters who had charged the stage.
Well, that’s no shock. The alt-right is not a right-wing movement; the alt-right is basically a grievance movement that is driven in response to the multi-cultural Left, and they are promoting, again, this notion that two wrongs make a right, that if the Left does it, we should do it, because that means that we are going to be fighting back against the Left. Look, the best way to fight back against things that are bad is to do good things. It is not to do equally bad things in exactly the same way.
When asked whether the alt-right was acting the way they were in order to make a profit, conservative radio host Charlie Sykes commented that the protesters didn’t even understand that the killing of Caesar in the play is a bad thing, leading to political chaos. He asked, “How many of these people have read this play? How many of these protesters have actually read this play? How many could actually tell you what century William Shakespeare wrote? … Apparently some people have figured out that they are going to be able to monetize this, get clicks, get a little bit of notoriety.”
After Scarborough noted that the Right had been fighting against censorship for over thirty years, citing the famous book The Closing of the American Mind, he turned back to Shapiro, asking why the Right would fight against free speech.
I think that some members of the Right have now been driven to extremes by a feeling of frustration, which is not justified. I think right now what we are seeing right now, also, is an attempt to appeal to anger and extremism on both sides because of profit motive, because of political motive, whether it’s Joy Reid saying what she said about Steve Scalise, or whether it’s what’s going on at the Julius Caesar play. The fact is, right now everybody is making bank off the anger of the public because you always make money off of justifying making people feel better abut their anger. In truth, we should be asking people, “Okay, maybe your anger is not just that justified.” The fact is that if there’s a play going on that you don’t like, you have the option of putting on a counter-play; you have the option of protesting outside, but this notion that we can shut down each other’s speech because we don’t like what’s being said, this is the end of the First Amendment in practice if not in law, and what that means is that we are going to come to blows at a pretty clear point here.
When Sykes and Shapiro were asked what could be implemented to reverse the tide against those on both sides of the political aisle who wanted to shut down free speech, Sykes pointed out, “What’s really startling about this is that people like Ben Shapiro have been so eloquent and been so high-profile in saying that conservatives support the First Amendment … you would think that tolerance and free speech would be among the things that we agree on.”
“Look, the best way to fight back against things that are bad is to do good things. It is not to do equally bad things in exactly the same way.”
Asked how to reverse the market incentives that drive much of the action against free speech, Shapiro replied:
Eventually it’s going to come back down to the voters; it’s going to come back down to us, the consumers. We have to determine that words are not violence unless they expressly advocate violence. And this is a dangerous thing the Left has embraced for twenty years; and now the Right is starting to embrace it too, this idea that people we don’t like when they say things, that’s what’s driving people to violence. And once we feel that; once we equate words with violence, then pretty soon we’re going to be equating violence with violence because it’s not just going to stay words.