Shapiro Excites Supporters, Prompts Protest at UF Event

Ben Shapiro in 2016. (Unmodified photo by Gage Skidmore used under a Creative Commons license.

On Monday, April 3rd, American conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro was hosted at the University of Florida to address students on issues such as intersectionality, socialism vs. capitalism, diversity, and any topics brought up by UF students. The event was organized by the ACCENT Speakers Bureau and Young Americans for Freedom campus organizations.

The Independent Florida Alligator also reported that Shapiro was compensated a total of $20,000 for his appearance. The event’s doors opened at 6:30 p.m. and Shapiro’s speech began at 7 p.m. Following a brief talk, the session moved to Q&A with the student audience. Tickets, free of charge and available for UF students, opened for sale the same day at noon, and sold out within the half hour.

Ben Shapiro is a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School and is the founder and current Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Wire and a columnist for Creators Syndicate. An author of seven published books, Shapiro has been known to incite controversy; in February of 2016, student protestors at California State University, Los Angeles physically blocked entrances and exits to his speech titled “When Diversity Becomes a Problem.”

The incident has since seen a lawsuit filed by the local chapter of Young Americans for Freedom against the university and a number of its professors, citing a violation of freedom of speech and the false imprisonment of students trapped inside the auditorium by protestors.

Shapiro regularly advocates awareness of the effects that traditionally liberal movements like protecting minority rights and socialized healthcare have on society. Some Shapiro authored headlines taken from the news section The Daily Wire’s website include “Shapiro at ‘National Review’: The New Theocrats Of The Left” and “DIFFERENT PRESIDENT, SAME STORY: Assad Gasses Children As White House Shrugs.”

In the hour prior to the talk at the University of Florida, upwards of 800 people were gathered around the auditorium’s entrance; the venue’s 750 person capacity was sold out, and the crowd of those attending was complemented by hopeful people looking for tickets to buy, and a centrally located group of protestors.

These protestors, a group including students, professors and civilians, received generally inflammatory reactions from some of the crowd, as multiple attendees vocalized generally disparaging responses to the signs that protestors carried. These signs included phrases like “words hurt, hate speech kills,” “facts don’t care about your ignorance,” and “stop killing trans women,” and saw invective responses as in a sign reading “menopausal women nostalgic for choice.”

The protest was reportedly organized by first-year University of Florida psychology student Nate Quinn, who has been involved in activism for transgender rights; one of Shapiro’s controversial opinions is that transgenderism roots itself in mental illness. Quinn was joined by about 20 other protestors in a collective effort to make sure that their voice in opposition to Shapiro’s ideas were heard and recognized.

Nearing the event’s starting time, protestors with loud speakers arrived to lead chants against the event. One of these protestors, Greg Cruz, said that he was sponsored out of Tampa to make sure that an opposing opinion to Shapiro’s was present. He outlined the importance of having protests to show people that another voice exists too.

Other protestors focused their purpose there on raising their voice against what they called hate speech, something they attributed directly to Shapiro. These protestors contended that the ideas Shapiro promoted were dangerous to many because of the way that they marginalize the unfair treatment that minorities receive in society.

One Comment

  1. Good article. But, contrary to the protestors views on Shapiro’s words being dangerous, I would say their attempts to silence his views because they don’t align with their own is what is truly dangerous. For example, their chants of “Hey hey ho ho Ben Shapiro has got to go.” While that was not included in this article, it was one of the dominant things that I heard them chanting when I was at this event.

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