The Lesson We Should All Learn from Ben Shapiro's Talk

With the events that occurred at the last speaker event hosted by the UConn College Republicans still fresh in our minds, a Conservative speaker yet again was invited to our campus. Ben Shapiro, a right-wing commentator and Harvard Law graduate, was brought here to “talk about white privilege, microaggressions, and other leftist myths.” Although not as disrespectful as the last events description, titled “It Is OK To Be White”, it nonetheless prompted students and administrators to question security. The UConn College Democrats even invited Nathan Robinson, essentially the opposite of Shapiro, to speak at the exact same time in somewhat of an effort to deter protestors. His speech was titled “Ben Shapiro Is Not As Insightful As He Thinks He Is”.

I certainly do not agree with most of Shapiro’s points, however I think it is important to note that he is a respectful debater. The actual speech aspect of the event focused on the idea of opinions not being fact, prompting him to spew out countless stats and documented studies to back up his ideals. While impressive, it became easy to get lost in the numbers. Having an exorbitant amount of facts to add to your argument is great, but they cannot be your sole argument.

Many of Shapiro’s points may have been hard to fathom, but hearing his debate during the Q&A helped in understanding his thoughts. Tonight would have been the perfect platform for respectful dialogue on a campus that has recently become increasingly polarized. Shapiro spent a lot of time urging discussion with liberal citizens, even prompting them to skip the Q&A line in order to give them more time to speak. This is what our university should pride itself on: peaceful discourse. We should not have to have a counter-speaker at the exact same time to deter protesters. Instead, we should be able to have someone like Shapiro speak and then hear a counterargument from another voice in order to form our own opinions.

This also applies to the safety precautions taken. It has been argued multiple times that the Anita Hill speech last week had no form of security comparable to what was seen yesterday. While it is clear that (hopefully) no student would protest against a woman bringing light to sexual assault and discrimination, I do believe that all speaker events should be held to the same standard. Bags had to be checked in order to get into the dining hall at South throughout the day, so why were they not checked at all for Hill?

Safety concerns after the last event are understandable of course, and UConn did an amazing job of making alterations to accommodate for the issues that had arisen just two months ago. The problem is that these accommodations should not have to be made. Shapiro’s views are far less radical than those of Wintrich, although disagreeable all the same. There were no mass protests at this event most likely due to that fact. But it is time that all students here understand that people do, in fact, have different viewpoints than their own. And that is okay. The world would be a very boring place if everyone thought the same way.

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