After great controversy and backlash, the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Associated Students Senate approved College Republican’s proposal to fund a talk featuring political commentator Ben Shapiro. He will be coming to UCSB to present a speech titled “Prejudice, Lies and Divided People: The Legacy of #BlackLivesMatter.”
Despite great opposition and an emotional back-and-forth between supporters and detractors on the topics of hate speech and free speech, the decision has been finalized. Although we are in the midst of the most divided America in recent memory due to the state of race relations as well as the recent election results, Ben Shapiro’s future appearance is protected by rights of free speech.
UCSB, like most public universities, is a dominantly liberal campus. Millennials overwhelmingly support liberal and Democratic views, but there is always a small niche of conservative and Republican students scattered on each campus. As a person who leans right myself, there is no doubt a stigma and even a sense of judgment against conservatives at UCSB, especially if one is outspoken about their views. There’s nothing wrong with expressing what you believe; this is America and everyone has the right to think a certain way. There’s also nothing wrong with disagreements, political or not, as long people are willing to have a civil discussion or debate.
This being said, it came to no surprise that Ben Shapiro was met with such animosity and opposition by many groups and students, such as the Black Student Union. After all, he is coming to give a speech that directly refutes the values and movements BSU stands for. Regardless, no one sponsored by A.S. should be interrupted from their event in a disrespectful manner. A.S. has already approved Shapiro to speak after hours of furious debate and all students should respect A.S.’s conclusion as they are the student leadership of this campus.
Shapiro is a civilized man that takes his arguments seriously and enjoys discussions and debates with other people, and I respect that about him. Unlike other conservative political figures, such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Shapiro tends to stick to facts, using logic to support his arguments, and rarely attacks liberal contentions using comedy or jokes. He is a serious man with a serious agenda: to inform and educate other people by offering a comprehensive argument of his point-of-view and rebutting any counter arguments using evidence and examples to back up his words.
Shapiro’s appearance at UCSB is one I am looking forward to. He’s a respectable man that takes politics in a serious manner and gets down to the basics of argumentative debate to get his point across. Instead of protesting and trying to drown out the sound Shapiro using a pure numbers advantage like what has happened to conservative speakers in other universities (such as the University of Massachusetts) it would be constructive to see Shapiro’s opposers stand up to him in a civil debate.
It’s always great to witness a back-and-forth, respectable debate between two opposing sides where people are cool, calm, and collected. In the end, we’re all adults. Who wants to see two groups of people yell insults and gibberish over each other? If anyone has a problem with Shapiro, they should bring their grievances to the podium and challenge Shapiro in the same playing field, using articulate speech and evidence to support their point.
There’s no doubt that Shapiro’s upcoming appearance has brought outrage and disdain among many groups of students here at UCSB. But one thing is for certain, the decision has been made and there’s little to nothing anyone can do to change it. As humans, we should respect each other and give credit to people who are brave enough to express their views, even if those views are not agreed upon by a large group of people. If you oppose what Shapiro says, I encourage you to speak up in a civil manner and challenge him in debate.