Ben Shapiro: Too Hot to Handle

Ben Shapiro is a brilliant guy and a mainstream conservative. Liberals fear and detest him because he consistently makes them look silly in his podcasts, on television, in public appearances and on Twitter. All of this makes Shapiro too hot for most college campuses to handle.

A case in point is the University of Minnesota, where conservative student groups have been trying to host Shapiro as a speaker. The university doesn’t admit to having any reservations about a conservative coming on campus, but it has relegated Shapiro’s appearance to the university’s ag school in St. Paul, miles away from the main Minneapolis campus. The Star Tribune reports:

University of Minnesota officials on Friday denied claims that they were suppressing conservative speech by relegating firebrand columnist Ben Shapiro’s upcoming lecture to the St. Paul campus and disputed allegations that the school operates under a political double standard.

Organizers of Shapiro’s Feb. 26 talk blasted the U this week after their requests to reserve a large venue on the West Bank campus, such as those used by former Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., were denied. Critics accused U officials of “exiling” Shapiro’s lecture to the St. Paul Student Center.

The U’s defense of its decision is ambiguous:

The U denied Shapiro access to the Ted Mann Concert Hall and Willey Hall, two large West Bank auditoriums, because of scheduling conflicts and security concerns, [Vice President of University Relations Matt Kramer] said.

But wait! Which is it? Scheduling conflicts or security concerns? Those are totally different issues. Does the university seriously contend that all of the major venues at its main campus are booked solid into the indefinite future, so that no one can appear at them? I don’t think so. The key appears to be “security concerns,” which is a polite term for the constitutionally impermissible “heckler’s veto.” The university seems to be calculating–no doubt correctly–that liberal fascists who otherwise might riot won’t bother to make their way to the more obscure, and smaller, St. Paul venue.

He pointed to a stack of e-mails between U officials and conservative campus activists as proof that administrators had worked to accommodate the groups.

Heh. That’s pretty funny. It all depends, of course, on what the emails say. The existence of a “stack” is, to say the least, unpersuasive. Let’s see them!

The Star Tribune devotes most of the rest of its article to advocating for the university’s semi-censorship:

Minnesota has been largely spared the kind of violence that has erupted elsewhere over campus visits by right-wing pundits and provocateurs.

Got that? We are talking about “right-wing pundits and provocateurs,” so what’s the problem? Of course, left-wing pundits and provocateurs–to cite just one example, Communist and (in all probability) murderer Angela Davis–don’t have any problem speaking on Minnesota campuses.

Rebecca Price, a 20-year-old U junior from Chicago, said she welcomes opposing viewpoints on campus but considers Shapiro’s rhetoric to be hate speech.

“If he were a regular ol’ Republican, it would be fine,” said Price, a self-described independent. “But allowing someone as extreme and discriminatory to speak sends out the message that it’s acceptable.”

The Strib quotes a leftist who characterizes Shapiro as a purveyor of “hate speech” and as “extreme and discriminatory.” On what basis? Not a single of utterance of Shapiro’s is cited in support of these smears, and yet the Strib allows them to go unrebutted.

Still, an unbiased reader can only wonder about this:

At least 28 University of Minnesota police officers will provide security for the event, said Lt. Troy Buhta. Only ticket-holders for the speech will be allowed to enter the St. Paul Student Center, where the auditorium seats about 500.

Why will 28 police officers be needed to provide security? Is similar security needed for even the most extreme left-wingers who speak on campus? No. Why not? Because conservatives make no attempt to block leftists from speaking. Conservatives aren’t fascists, while many leftists are. Only 500 people–those with tickets!–will be able to hear Shapiro at a remote location, while he could easily have drawn far more people to a bigger venue on the university’s main campus.

The Strib article concludes by noting that Republican legislators have introduced a bill that attempts to preserve, or restore, free speech at the state’s public universities. The University of Minnesota declined comment on the legislation.

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