Anti-Shapiro protesters at CSULA say ‘hate speech’ should not be allowed on campus

Following the uproar that occurred at California State University, Los Angeles last week, a student took to the school’s newspaper to compare conservative speaker Ben Shapiro to the KKK.

Shapiro’s speech last week at CSULA, titled “When Diversity Becomes a Problem,” generated significant controversy on campus, and university president William Covino initially sought to postpone the appearance until the school could assemble “a group of speakers with differing viewpoints on diversity” to speak alongside Shapiro.

Shapiro and the Young Americans for Freedom student group that had invited him refused to accept Covino’s ruling, however, and he ultimately allowed the event to proceed as planned after they threatened to go through with the lecture anyway. Yet when it came time for him to speak, protesters violently barricaded doors and entrances to the speech, and even pulled a fire alarm hoping to force an evacuation, leading Shapiro to state that he has “never seen or experienced anything like the near-riot” that took place in an effort to shut down the event.

According to the CSULA University Times, many students and professors oppose Shapiro’s views on the basis of a vague notion that he practices “hate speech,” and are now demanding that Covino resign for failing to protect them from the conservative’s opinions.

“We’re all coming together to say that diversity is not a problem, and it supports so many different views,” said Jovanny Benitez, a member of Students United to Reach Goals in Education (SURGE). “I’m not saying he doesn’t have the right to free speech or to speak here, but a lot of what he says sounds like hate speech.”

Hannah Jacobsen, the author of the article, then interjects her own analysis, opining that “the right to be heard often depends on defining a boundary between acceptable and inacceptable [sic] speech,” and suggesting that Shapiro’s views may constitute speech that should be prohibited on campus.

“The Ku Klux Klan would not be allowed to speak at Cal State LA (though they’re still rallying in Anaheim). A speaker advocating horrendous moral wrongs, such as child pornography, would never be allowed to speak at Cal State LA,” she contends. “Does Ben Shapiro—a man who denies the existing presence of systemic and subtle racism against people of color in present day society—cross that line?”

Dr. Robert Weide—a sociology professor at CSULA who had challenged Shapiro’s supporters to fight him in the school gym while warning that “I lift bro”—answered Jacobsen’s question unequivocally, saying Shapiro’s version of freedom is actually a form of oppression.

“What is this freedom that the people on the right wing talk about? Is it the freedom to be educated here in a public university in peace? Is it my freedom to be able to teach here without being threatened? Is it the freedom to live without fear and intimidation?” Weide asked.

“Of course not,” he answered himself. “The type of freedom that they’re talking about is the freedom to offend; the freedom to disrespect; the freedom to degrade and marginalize other people; the freedom to harass, intimidate, and threaten other people. Ultimately, the freedom that they want is the freedom to exploit, dominate, and control other people. This isn’t freedom at all, this is oppression.”

Shapiro, for his part, addressed his detractors during his speech by asserting that their obsession with diversity in racial and ethnic terms has led them to ignore the importance of diversity of opinion.

“The focus on skin color diversity makes people empty-headed and close-minded at the same time,” he told the audience. “You’re so focused on retreating like a turtle into this arbitrary group identity based on skin color that you blame all of your problems on someone else. That’s what this term ‘white privilege’ is all about.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @ChrisNuelle