Ben Shapiro responds to being barred from Gonzaga University
Conservative personality and KTTH host Ben Shapiro has been blocked from appearing at Gonzaga University
“This is the purist example I’ve seen since DePaul, another Jesuit university, of a university shutting down a speech because the hecklers veto it,” Shapiro told Jason Rantz on KTTH. “The idea is that a bunch of people don’t like me so they show up at my speeches and they yell at me.”
College Republicans at Gonzaga University in Spokane say that college officials denied their request to have the Conservative commentator come speak at their event next spring. Shapiro says that he’s spoken at about 45 universities over the past three years, and that only five appearances drew a protest or dangerous situation. Those includes speeches at California State University in LA, University of Berkeley, University of Utah, University of Wisconsin, and Penn State.
“So we can’t have me because we don’t want the people who are yelling at me,” he said. “Which is a basic violation of First Amendment principles. Gonzaga is a private school obviously, so that changes the math a little – they can do what they want.”
Gonzaga University has provided this statement on the issue:
Gonzaga University declined the College Republicans’ request to make a proposal to bring Ben Shapiro to campus due to two factors: (a) concerns relating to the safety and security of providing the same, and (b) concerns regarding the potential for inappropriate behavior surrounding the event that might violate our institution’s standards for conduct.
We are committed to the safety and security of our campus community, including visitors. Given Mr. Shapiro’s popularity, in evaluating what has occurred on other campuses, the University felt it would not be able to provide a suitable venue, as well as the concomitant level of security, necessary to appropriately host him. The students who made the request were encouraged to find a local venue that was better equipped to manage the event, and to ensure the safety and security of the guests.
Mr. Shapiro’s appearances have drawn protests that include inappropriate behavior, as well as divisive and hateful speech, which is offensive to many people regardless of their age, politics or beliefs. As a private, faith-based, mission-driven institution committed to the human dignity of every individual, we stand in solidarity with vulnerable members of our community who may be targeted for discrimination, ridicule, or harassment by others.
Shapiro argues this is an example of colleges failing to expose students to a range of ideas. He doesn’t buy Gonzaga’s logic that the university just wants to avoid troublesome protests. He argues that it reflects poorly on Gonzaga’s student body that the administration is so afraid of its students that it can’t trust them not to protest and harm their own school.
“But by the same token, if you are worried about your student body being exposed to interesting ideas because people are going to protest, all this does is create an incentive for people to protest and make trouble,” he said. “That works both ways. If the new rule is that they will bar anyone from coming to campus who draws protests, why wouldn’t right wingers go out and protest Angela Davis who spoke there within the last five years – who was an honest-to-God former terrorist who was on the FBI’s most wanted list.”
“The fact that they openly say this is even more amazing,” he added.
Ben Shapiro hosts a show on KTTH at 6 p.m. nightly.