Shapiro Defunded from Concordia

PHOTO COURTESY | WIKI COMMONS
Concordia rescinded their financial support for having Shapiro speak.

Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief for The Daily Wire, was recently invited to speak at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. However, news broke out last month that the student government of Concordia College had rescinded their financial support to help bring Ben Shapiro over to speak.

A motion to rescind said funding said, “SGA’s first goal is to listen to, represent and act on the feedback of its students and there will be a motion put forward to rescind the funding.” Furthermore, it said the student government association should be “dedicated to supporting its underrepresented and marginalized students and the greater goal of promoting diversity, equity and inclusion at Concordia.”

A certain subset of Concordia students felt that by rescinding funding to help bring Ben Shapiro to their campus, Concordia has “asserted that Shapiro’s harmful messages targeting LGBTQ+ communities and other marginalized identities is in direct opposition to the dedication of Concordia and Student Government Association to support diversity, equity and inclusion of all persons from all backgrounds and identities.”

However, some students dissent from the vote to rescind funding. Colin Howard, a freshman at Concordia, said, “It’s a matter of free speech to let Shapiro come. Concordia is all about diversity. If Shapiro isn’t allowed to come, then they aren’t holding true to their statement of diversity. To have complete diversity, you need to have political diversity.”

Howard also noted that Shaun King, a writer and Black Lives Matter activist, was invited to speak at Concordia in January 2017. King is as Left-leaning as Shapiro is Right-leaning. So why the apparent favoritism to Left-leaning speakers, while protesting and preventing Right-leaning speakers?

The issue here that has been of debate for some time is the issue of free speech and how it’s distinguished from hate speech. Does hate speech fall under free speech? In June 2017, the Supreme Court reaffirmed unanimously a legal principle known as the “bedrock principle.” The principle, as the Supreme Court phrases it, is that, “Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend.”

In February 2016, Ben Shapiro was going to give a talk at California State University in Los Angeles. Being widely known for being conservative, students naturally protested the scheduled speech, labeling it as “hate speech,” which isn’t true at all. Cal State’s president, William Covino, had canceled the speech and planned to reschedule it for a later date. However, Ben Shapiro planned on coming to speak anyway. Due to the threat of lawsuits, Covino allowed the Shapiro speech to go on as originally planned.

Just prior to Shapiro coming up to speak, student protesters amounting in the hundreds, began forming human chains to block anyone from entering the theater where Shapiro was going to speak. They shoved away anyone trying to enter and started fights as well. Some students wanting to hear from Shapiro snuck in from the back doors before student protesters started barricading the back doors. Shapiro managed to get inside and as he started speaking, one of the protesters pulled the fire alarm to prevent Shapiro’s talk. Regardless, Shapiro continued with his talk and students who in the theater stayed put to listen to him. He had to be escorted out by police and bodyguards after his talk was over. After he left, protesters eventually dispersed and students inside the theater were able to leave once the protesters left.

One could argue that Concordia isn’t necessarily censoring speakers like Ben Shapiro simply by choosing not to give funding, but it’s still suppressing the conservative viewpoint that Ben Shapiro brings to the table. It’s a form of censorship, and it marginalizes those who don’t follow the left-leaning ideologies.

One can notice the issue where people espouse buzzwords, such as “diversity” and “tolerance,” and then actively attempt to silence those they disagree with (e.g. Ben Shapiro, Jake Macaulay, etc.) and furthermore resort to profanity, name-calling and violence. That doesn’t sound very tolerant at all and goes against the diversity they claim to encourage. If this type of speech is a bit much for some people, they aren’t being forced to attend his talk. So why censor Ben Shapiro and therefore prevent others who would like to attend his talk? If Shapiro and other people’s right to free speech is subservient to all other people’s rights, then it’s not a right because somebody is always going to be offended.

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