Columns, Opinion

Campus Cognition: Why we have to take Ben Shapiro seriously

It is no secret that college students keep up with the internet’s most polarizing figures. Most students use social media every day and in doing so we have no choice but to be exposed to the loudest and most provocative figures on platforms like Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. 

It is also no secret that to be recognized as a “polarizing internet figure” in today’s age, one must really make themselves stand out among their contemporaries. The threshold for what is considered raucous behavior on the web is being raised constantly — in other words, it takes a lot to shock people on the internet nowadays.

The formula is simple: the more outrageous a person acts, the more likely it is people will pay attention to them. 

Recently the Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative student group at Boston University, are trying to bring popular conservative speaker and media figure Ben Shapiro to visit campus.

The proposition of Shapiro visiting campus was met with some controversy, including a petition and discussions by the Free Speech Committee, which The Daily Free Press reportedincluded a student reading tweets from Shapiro including, ‘I believe gender dysphoria is a mental disorder,’ and ‘As a religious Jew, I think homosexual activity is a sin.’”

Shapiro is, without question, a stark representation of current-day reactionary thought. His worldview is illogical, his statements are blatantly unsubstantiated and he reflects nearly every aspect of what it means to truly identify with the abrasive right. 

You could argue we should simply ignore Shapiro and let him appeal to those who, for whatever reason, agree with his inane opinions. As much as I would love this, it’s not going to happen.

We have to take Shapiro seriously, and in doing so, we have to talk about him and his views. It might be hard to accept, but his level of influence — on young people in particular — is far too large to ignore.  

If we do not take figures like Shapiro seriously by discussing and refuting the things he says, the youth will start to fall even further down the rabbit hole of reactionary thought. Giving hatemongers platforms to spread their ideals, such as a visit to a college campus, will do nothing but further the process of radicalization. 

Plenty of BU groups are acting accordingly by organizing petitions to keep Shapiro’s presence off campus. This is exactly what we should be doing. 

The goal should not be to let them preach, it should be to defeat them. 

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  1. I don’t think differing opinions should be tolerated. One opinion or point of view is enough and should be enforced by keeping other views off campus and refusing them a hearing. Good work!!

  2. ….somehow, I doubt that you actual ly go here.

  3. I agree that we should have open discourse with figures that represent varying ideologies. However, it is unacceptable for BU to spend money on giving him a platform at the university when we still have a lot of work to do to cultivate a safe and accepting environment for oppressed groups. What kind of message does this send to LGBTQ+ individuals that are enrolled at this school that are still trying to combat archaic traditions that limit their freedom of expression?

  4. How about you have speakers of both sides. Shapiro won’t take away safety of minorities, he just has another point of view. listen, and decide if you want to take it or leave it.