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Students protest potential Ben Shapiro campus visit

Chance Charley (CAS ’21), left, speaks through a bullhorn at the crowd of students gathered in front of the George Sherman Union to protest Ben Shapiro speaking at Boston University. GABRIELA HUTCHINGS/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Students held a rally Wednesday to protest the invitation for Ben Shapiro to speak at Boston University. The group who held the event, Students Against Hate Speech, said they believe Shapiro’s rhetoric should not be allowed on campus.

BU Young Americans for Freedom invited Shapiro to campus and is in negotiations with BU administration to confirm the date, location, and security costs of the event.

A group of around a dozen people handed out fliers and spoke to the crowd outside the George Sherman Union. The protesters held signs that said things like “Hate speech is not free speech” and “13K of your tuition to support Shapiro’s hate speech.”

The group’s goal, stated on hand-out fliers, is to “Tell BU we don’t want Ben Shapiro, a racist homophobic hatemonger at our campus.” 

Chance Charley, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said he was inspired to help orchestrate and mobilize people for the rally because he does not think Shapiro belongs on BU’s campus.

“We think it’s completely antithetical to what we should support as students,” Charley said. “It’s completely antithetical to the university’s mission of supporting inclusion and diversity.”

Harishan Ganesan, a sophomore in Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Services and organizer of the rally, said two of the group’s main problems with Shapiro were his views on LGBTQ rights and equal human rights.

“He says that people who are transgender have a mental illness,” Ganesan said. “He thinks the lives of citizens in Afghanistan are of less worth than US troops’ [lives].”

Ganesan said she thinks the First Amendment, which bars Congress from making laws that infringe on freedom of speech, doesn’t apply to a speaker invited to a private institution.

“Under the First Amendment, there’s nothing protecting Ben Shapiro from coming to BU. It’s a private institution,” Ganesan said. “It’s our First Amendment right to be protesting here.”

Marco De Laforcade, a junior in CAS, said he doesn’t have a problem with conservative speakers on campus, but feels Shapiro’s rhetoric on transgender and Palestinian people should disqualify him from speaking at BU.

“At the end of the day, we are here to protest, we are here to say enough is enough,” De Laforacde said. “You can invite your conservative speakers, free speech is absolutely tolerated on campus, but what you’re not allowed to do is invite people who will make our trans friends and our brothers and sisters who are Palistinian feel unsafe on campus.”

The rally has been in organization for a couple weeks, said Melissa Hurtado, a senior in CAS and fellow organizer of the rally.

“[Students Against Hate Speech] came together because we all have similar ideals as a group and we also wanted to create a voice for BU students,” Hurtado said.

Hurtado said she thinks free speech becomes hate speech when “you turn an opinion into something that can inflict hate and violence upon someone.” Hurtado said she thinks Shapiro’s past comments meet this definition and therefore should not be welcomed at BU.

Noah Hill, a junior in CAS and treasurer of BU YAF said in an interview he doesn’t have a problem with peaceful protests against Shapiro like the Wednesday rally.

“We’re fine with it because we know that it’s probably not going to result in [Shapiro] not coming to campus,” Hill said. “We just hope that there’s no violence taken out against him or that there’s no instigation of violence.”

Dan Treacy, a sophomore in the College of Communications and member of YAF, said in an interview he thinks the protest is an example of conservative voices not being welcome on campus. 

“Conservatives generally aren’t represented well on this campus,” Treacy said. “The people who don’t want to hear [Shapiro] don’t have to go.”

Jeremy Diaz, a sophomore in Wheelock College of Education who attended the rally, said he was drawn to the protest because he thinks Shapiro is dangerous for American youth.

“Ben Shapiro is the figurehead of a very destructive ideology that poses an insurmountable threat to our youth,” Diaz said. “And as a prospective teacher, it is very troubling that Boston University is welcoming him to the youth.”


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  1. Get real. Everyone can express their views. Sorry some people are “offended” and scared. This country was founded on discussion and controversial opinons. Your “hate speech” complaints are just another way to shut down free speech. Sorry, we have a constituton that provides equal opportunity to everyone to speak their minds. Don’t listen to Mr. Shapiro. That’s your right. Don’t try to take away other people’s rights.

    • Will Peltz Smalley

      Sal, I’m afraid you’re mistaken in the assumption that Shapiro (or anyone, for that matter) has a _constitutional_ right to be granted the honor and implicit endorsement of a private research university that comes with being invited to and allowed to speak at BU. As BU is not a state or federal agency, he has no legal recourse if we (especially our students) tell him to stuff it. Also, re-evaluate your assumption that anyone who disagrees can just “choose not to listen to him”–it’s not that simple. We’re not just talking about letting him “express his views,” or speak at any old place, we’re talking about whether Boston University should give him a _platform_. That’s a fact, and I’m sure you’d agree that facts don’t care about your feelings.

  2. Mr. Peltz, I believe you are mistaken on several points. BU takes federal monies for research, student grants, etc. Therefore, it no longer qualifies as private. Second, the first amendment applies on private property as well as public. Third, allowing someone to speak does NOT imply endorsement as you state. Finally, it is “that simple;” no one is required to attend Mr. Shapiro’s speech. My question to you is: what are you afraid of? Fascist behavior begins with silencing opposition. Why are you afraid of meeting him in the arena of ideas?

  3. You make the case that everyone at BU feels the same way you do. I’m sure that this is not true. All students opinions should be represented at a university, not only the majority opinions. Freedom of thought and expression are not exclusive to public institutions. BU is lacking as an institution if your reasoning is adopted.

  4. These students are a danger to our society… They are of the mentality that if it’s speech that I don’t agree with… it’s hate speech! Grow a pair children. ✌🏻

  5. Ben Shapiro’s speech directly inspired the Quebec mosque shooting. Speaking the oppression of other people based on their immutable traits should not be tolerated and it won’t be at Boston University.


  6. Wow Anthony, quite a statement. That’s the kind of irresponsible accusations that are casually thrown around to silence opposing views today. Seems like you have willingly joined that group.

    • I find it ironic you called my accusation “irresponsible” when his speech radicalized someone to murder others. I didn’t just throw around an accusation, I cited my source to emphasize that I wasn’t being hyperbolic. The kid was looking at Ben Shapiro’s tweets hours before he murdered people. Speaking oppression is irresponsible and that is what Shapiro does. If he only talked about free market capitalism and constitutionalism that would be absolutely fine, but he doesn’t. He preaches oppression and it shouldn’t be accepted.
      He’s said this of Palestinians:
      “Viewed in its starkest terms, the Arab-Israeli conflict may be accurately described as a war between darkness and light”

      “Israelis like to build. Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage. This is not a difficult issue.”

      This about Afghanistan civilians:
      “when I see in the newspapers that civilians in Afghanistan or the West Bank were killed by American or Israeli troops, I don’t really care. In fact, I would rather that the good guys use the Air Force to kill the bad guys, even if that means some civilians get killed along the way. One American soldier is worth far more than an Afghan civilian.”

      He has said that that there are 800 million radicalized Muslims throughout the world:

      If you want to talk in a public park I can do nothing to stop it, but Boston University paying for this guy to come is frankly unacceptable

      Why would we want someone like this to speak at our private campus?

  7. Thanks Anthony. I’m sure that you have the capability to determine what speech causes each individual to act in a particular way. I think you have elevated yourself to be judge and jury of who “is allowed” to speak at BU. I don’t agree with all the re toric that we hear from different speakers, but an institution such as BU should never use the excuse that it is a private institution and has the right to limit free speach, no matter who disagrees with the opinions expressed. Stop trying to control the narrative. We all are capable of forming our own opinions without you guidance.

    • “BU should never use the excuse that it is a private institution and has the right to limit free speech”
      You do not agree with this statement. If you owned a business and someone came in and started talking about the “militant homosexual agenda”(Ben Shapiro quote) you would kick them out. So now we have someone coming here who believes that Palestinians are inferior, homosexuals are a threat to our society, trans people are mentally ill, Afghanistan civilian deaths aren’t relevant, and helped inspire a shooter. I don’t support my tuition going to support this man and that is completely reasonable.

  8. There are limits on free speech
    Glbtqi people have been marginalied in this country. B. U. Is a place of higher education. We do not need ignorant people spewing hatred at our school. His style of hatred is unacceptable. There is no place at our school for what Shapiro spews. He’s not interested in intellectual debate. He wants to spew hatred. No, not at my school