Five Takeaways from Ben Shapiro's Speech at the University of Utah

Ben Shapiro visited the University of Utah this past Wednesday, September 27th. His arrival was not met without controversy and opposition throughout the state of Utah – this was no surprise as Shapiro is a conservative. Protestors at Presidents Circle and outside of the S BEH Auditorium made their positions clear through shouting “It is a right to rebel, Ben Shapiro go to hell!” Well, Shapiro certainly didn't oppose their right to "rebel," and he had that and much more to express during his time at the University of Utah:

1. Freedom of speech on both sides of the political spectrum is important.

Shapiro began his speech by saying that he supported the protestors outside because they were exercising their rights to free speech just as he was. He then began to read the Salt Lake Tribune’s article which featured Ian Decker’s explanation of why he and others intended to shut down the Daily Wire’s editor-in-chief. Shapiro dissected the article’s accusations against him, and vehemently denied the claims of his being a supporter of conversion therapy and LGBTQ bullying. Shapiro emphasized that he was mainly offering his opinions, and that it is good to understand both perspectives rather than remain isolated to one ideology.

2. You are not a victim without your consent.

Shapiro explained in detail why Americans of every background, race, gender, etc., are not victims, and should be guided by an autonomous perception of their lives. For a moment, it almost felt as if the audience was taking part in a Tony Robbins seminar when Shapiro advocated that individuals everywhere should assume control of their lives, buckle down, and get to work; according to him, others’ past actions should not be used as an excuse to fail in the present. Of course, some are placed in circumstances beyond their control, and things happen to people that are beyond their control...but that doesn’t mean individuals should use those circumstances as a crutch for the rest of their lives; we all are victims at some point in our lives, but to blame history and others for our life circumstances only stunts individual growth.

3. Speech is speech and violence is violence.

One of Shapiro’s most significant lines of the night was that “speech is speech and violence is violence.” He then petitioned the crowd to find him any person who had suffered physical injury from his words. Shapiro continued to point out that conflating speech with violence is a dangerous path which only leads to more violence and a chilling effect on free speech.

4. Where oppression exists, let’s fight it together.

As usual, Shapiro was not afraid to sugarcoat his opinions and offered lines such as “…rapists should either be jailed, castrated, or killed.” He then stated that we as society should indeed work together to combat actual racism, bigotry, sexism, abuse, etc.; this unifies a society. But pretending that America is built on hatred and racism is incorrect and only hurts this unity.

One notable example of this philosophy was when Shapiro was asked whether or not he would consider debating a white supremacist to which he responded with a definite “no.” His rationale was that he is not – nor ever had been – affiliated with them, and so offering them any time in the spotlight would only provide them with an unmerited platform to which Shapiro was opposed.

5. Respect is important…always.

Following his speech, Shapiro then allowed time for his infamous Q&A portion. A line was quick to form, and Shapiro was asked a wide variety of questions from religion, to his opinion on “Rick and Morty.” Although Shapiro is known for his keen intellect and academic accolades, he in no way condescended to the questioners; he respected all participants through fully listening to them, and answering them calmly with his opinion.

Ultimately, Shapiro’s speech by all accounts was a success, and focused on a laissez-faire government, promotion of the individual, and the objective of fighting racism, sexism, and bigotry together as united Americans.