On Tuesday, Daily Wire editor-in chief Ben Shapiro spoke to the students at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. Westmont purports to be a “Christian, liberal arts college.” Unfortunately, there was nothing “Christian” or “liberal” about the administration’s decision to censor all video coverage of Shapiro’s speech. Luckily, the ever-resourceful Shapiro decided go full MacGyver, evading the Orwellian police and streaming a live broadcast via Periscope with his own selfie stick. Rather than adopting the violent tactics of the modern Regressive Left, Shapiro embraced the ideals of classical liberalism and opted to cleverly outwit repressive mandates in one beautifully televised act of civil disobedience.
— Pardes Seleh (@PardesSeleh) April 19, 2016
— Emily Jashinsky (@emilyjashinsky) April 19, 2016
— Lauren McCue (@LMcCue26) April 19, 2016
Once again, Shapiro’s speech was sponsored by the Young America’s Foundation (YAF). The group posted Shapiro’s selfie-stick live feed on its social media account, allowing the larger public to watch. The event was hosted by the Westmont Republican Club.
Adjacent to Shapiro stood a hulking security guard. Sadly, private security is not just an indulgence but a necessity for conservative speakers on college campuses. From Cal State University Los Angeles to Penn State University, Shapiro has received a panoply of physical threats.
Throughout the speech, Shapiro deconstructed ubiquitous buzzwords like “white privilege” and “microaggressions” to a generally receptive audience. Espousing the foundational tenets of free speech, Shapiro declared, “If we don’t return to the basic principles that undergird the Constitution and Declaration of Independence then there’s nothing left.”
Then came question-and-answer time. The tone shifted quite a bit. The Q&A session opened with a bizarre prelude by a professor that appeared to be affiliated with the university. This, too, was mandated by the university in order to “contextualize” Shapiro’s speech.
Breaking the fourth wall, Shapiro looked at his selfie stick and smiled.
After that rousing prelude came the actual questions. One young woman stood up and proceeded to question Shapiro’s “tone.” “I totally support free speech…but is it that much to give up if you’re not saying the things that are not offensive,” asked the girl. Unfortunately, she didn’t appear to recognize just how Orwellian her question sounded. “I support free speech, but…” is the rallying cry of every censorious autocrat the world over.
“You are giving up a baseline idea that there is a truth,” stated Shapiro, arguing that subjective emotional reflexes should not govern or restrict speech that espouses truth. The young woman remained unconvinced. Again she asked, “If somebody is continually offended by the same thing..” then why say it? This time her tone was sharper and more demeaning. Shapiro answered more incisively this time, cutting to the heart of grievance culture. “Maybe they shouldn’t be offended by truth,” replied Shapiro, adding:
You’re wearing a Feel the Bern t-shirt that offends my sense of intelligence. I feel like what Bernie says is absolutely nonsense that springs from the butt of a unicorn.
If I say I’m offended by your shirt, should you go home and change it?
The young woman was left speechless, unable to offer a reply after Shapiro evaluated her questionable sartorial decisions.
Then, another left-wing questioner stepped up to the plate. “There’s been a series of experiments from Harvard” with “some conclusions that 80% have preference for white people, 70% of black people question.”
Shapiro acknowledged the veracity of the study, but questioned the implications of the young man’s question. There isn’t a “statistically significant correlation between implicit bias and behavior,” said Shapiro, “I don’t care what’s inside people’s head so these mind-reading studies are not important to me,” adding “If bias results in behavior on an individual basis then we have to examine your behavior” and go from there. There is no virtue in “ghosthunting” impalpable abstractions like white privilege. In summation, Shapiro stated, “I don’t care what you think, I care how you behave.”
After that, another young man got up to ask another question about tone. “Your rhetoric has been criticized as divisive,” the young man asked. “What is the rule of respect and acknowledging other’s experiences.” In just a few words, Shapiro provided a poignant answer: “Your thought is either valid or invalid.”
Following a question about white vs. black crime rates, Shapiro fielded a question from what a snarky woman who stood up and attempted to demean Shapiro, asking a series of personal questions. “Where did you grow up?” “Where did you go to high school?” The young woman ostensibly tried to pigeonhole Shapiro into a checkbox of “privilege” in anticipation of somehow demonstrating that the conservative’s well researched, data-based arguments didn’t align with anecdotal evidence. The young woman began demanding the racial breakdown of Shapiro Yeshiva University before implying that nearly all Jews were “white.” Apparently, the overeager young woman isn’t familiar with the fact that most Jews weren’t considered “white” until just a few decades ago, or more pertinently, the fact that the Jewish community is vast and multi-ethnic and includes Middle Easterners, Mizrachis, Sephardis, Ethiopians, Sub-Saharan Africans, and Yemenites. Shapiro himself corrected her egregious over-generalization, stating bluntly, “My wife is a non-White Jew…she’s Moroccan.”
After Shapiro asked her to get to her question, she became frazzled and suggested that she needed to gather her thoughts. Shapiro waited patiently. Finally, after a few more seconds of silence, she said, “This isn’t worth my time,” to which Shapiro replied, “Then it certainly isn’t worth mine.”