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Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro to speak at Ohio State

Ben Shapiro, host of his online political podcast The Ben Shapiro Show, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Feb. 22. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro will speak at Ohio State on Tuesday. The event is hosted by the Ohio State chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative organization for college students.

The event is part of the Fred Allen Lecture Series, a national college lecture tour that aims to bring conservative ideas to college students. Ohio State is one of six universities that Shapiro will visit during this tour, selected from more than 1,500 that applied.

Shapiro is known for his work as a conservative political personality. From 2012 to 2016, he served as the editor-in-chief for the conservative media site, Breitbart, and currently serves as the editor-in-chief for The Daily Wire, a conservative news and commentary website he founded. Shapiro is also known for frequently speaking at college campuses across the nation and engaging students in extensive question-and-answer sessions.

Elle Lamb, Ohio State YAF chair and a third-year in marketing, said this event is an opportunity to disseminate conservative views to students on both sides of the political spectrum, for Shapiro gets “a lot of attention.”

“My goal on such a big campus is to reach everybody,” Lamb said. “Our mission is to get people to create discussion, let people hear what conservative ideas actually are, rather than through the biased perspective of their professors, their liberal professors or the media.”

While popular among conservative audiences, Shapiro’s right-wing views have been a subject of criticism and controversy. Due to this, a couple of Columbus-based organizations are planning to oppose the event.

Ohio State’s chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists will host a table outside of the lecture venue from 6 to 9 p.m. to inform individuals of its “Fight for 15 Campaign,” an initiative to raise the campus minimum wage to $15. They plan to promote this idea, rather than only speak out against Shapiro’s views, Nathan Mundo, YDS member and second-year in chemical engineering, said.

“The reason we chose to do this instead of protesting him is because we feel that it’s better to counter bad ideas with good ideas,” Mundo said. “I think it’s very important to make sure people know that we don’t want him to not talk. We don’t want to just make the other side shut up. We want a conversation so that people can come to the ideas the right way.”

The Columbus Anti-Racist Action group also plans to take action against Shapiro, but in the form of a direct protest.

“If these people are allowed to have a positive experience at Tuesday night’s event you had better believe that there will be an immediate uptick in the racist attacks we see every day on the news,” a Columbus Anti-Racist Action flyer stated. “We are inviting people to join us at 6:30 on the dead end of 14th Street at High. From there we will march to confront the bigot fest in the performance hall of the Ohio Union.”

According to an article featured on the Young America’s Foundation website, the website for the conservative organization, the successful planning of the event has been difficult. The article claimed that, “university administrators have inexplicably and inexcusably carried out a sustained effort to minimize the impact of OSU Young Americans for Freedom’s breakthrough lecture with the number one conservative speaker in America.”

While the article lists a number of ways Ohio State has made the event’s execution difficult, all issues have been resolved except for the problem of security fees. Both the article and Lamb claim that Ohio State has charged $2,064 for security personnel and $2,800 for metal detectors.

In response to these claims, Ben Johnson, an Ohio State spokesman, said the university does not hamper events based on content and that Ohio State has worked directly with Shapiro’s security team to meet the team’s requirements.

“The Ohio State University is a place for discussion and debate of diverse viewpoints … Ohio State never makes decisions based on the content of speech,” Johnson said. “Ohio State has worked directly with the sponsoring student organization and the speaker’s security team to determine the location and set-up, including security needs, for this event. Many of the security measures, including metal detectors, were required by the speaker’s security team, not by Ohio State.”

Shapiro will speak at the Performance Hall of the Ohio Union at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

17 comments

  1. [The Columbus Anti-Racist Action group also plans to take action against Shapiro, but in the form of a direct protest.
    “If these people are allowed to have a positive experience at Tuesday night’s event you had better believe that there will be an immediate uptick in the racist attacks we see every day on the news,” a Columbus Anti-Racist Action flyer stated. “We are inviting people to join us at 6:30 on the dead end of 14th Street at High. From there we will march to confront the bigot fest in the performance hall of the Ohio Union.”]

    This group represents part of the problem with allowing conservatives and liberals to listen to and understand one another and find common ground. The rationale that having a “positive” experience will cause an “immediate uptick” in racist attacks is nothing but propaganda. Labeling all conservatives as racist demonstrates the irrational thought and lack of mature thought on the part of this organization.

    As an alumna of The Ohio State University, I expect the current administration to allow all facets of the political spectrum to be heard without having to traverse ‘obstacles’ in organizing presentations. Too much liberal thought and policy are already being promoted on college campuses today. A balance needs to be established so that young people can hear from all sides and make their OWN conclusions without fear of protestors, rioting and violence.

    • You say that a “balance” is needed, but what about those further right and/or left? OSU has denied both Cameron Padgett and Richard Spencer to speak on campus.

      • If you note above in my opinion I wrote – “I expect the current administration to allow all facets of the political spectrum to be heard without having to traverse ‘obstacles’ in organizing presentations. ”

        Don’t you think even Neo-Nazi’s should be able to present their viewpoint – thus letting students see what they really represent. Why ban them from speaking on campus – I would think exposing their true intent would be the best thing for students to see and then resolve not to join them.

        • No neo-nazis do not belong in the “marketplace if ideas.” Along with other debunked and destroyed ideologies.

          Flat Earthers do not get platforms at universities. Neither should YAF, Shapiro, and other extreme right-wing idiots.

          “Exposing their true intent” is not what these events are for. These events are for the reactionary right to claim that they have a place at the table of legitimacy. THEY DO NOT, nor will they. Ever.

          Quit defending the right of bigots to pretend legitimacy, Susan. That behavior is part of the problem. As an alum, you should know better. Shame on you.

          • I agree with you on Neo-nazis and flat earthers, but your comments beyond that are short sighted, ignorant and unhealthy for our society and democracy. This is the exact line of thought that Shapiro speaks out against, and you prove his point fabulously.

          • So I assume you then agree that the Democratic Socialists – left wing – shouldn’t be able to have forums and pander their ideologies on the OSU campus as well.

          • I didn’t think an orthodox Jew could be a Neo-Nazi. What did he say? I couldn’t find any racist quotes in YouTube. I’m curious – can you provide a link?

          • ARE YOU NUTS, HE IS JEWISH AND SPEAKS FACTS… WHEN I ATTENDED OHIO STATE FREE SPEECH WAS ALLOWED AND FACTS WERE IN FACT TAUGHT WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO THIS UNIVERSITY AND WHAT HAPPENED TO THE WORLD… WOW…

        • Neither of the two men whom OSU rejected are “Neo-Nazis.” They are White nationalists, plain and simple. In fact, “Neo-Nazis” represent a VERY small fraction of White nationalists. There are more Nazi advocates on the far left.

          But regardless, my point is, those that far right and/or far left on the political spectrum would never be given a place to speak at this, or any, public university for that matter.

  2. So the leftist protesters are meeting up at a Starbucks before hand? lol

  3. I too am an alumnus. I’m still paying for that student union, and I’ve been in it once.
    I’ll be damned if I’ll be strong-armed by some racist throwing the word bigot around to intimidate people and to persuade them to not hear the diverse ideas in the “marketplace “ that our university purports to provide.
    I wasn’t going to go, but I am now, for sure!

    • You can hear his ideas on his fascist radio show. Neither OSU nor any other university owes him a platform for his hate speech. Bigots ARE easily identified as bigots. Shapiro is a disgusting one.
      Are you SURE you graduated? What, exactly, did you learn?

      • Do you care to provide evidence of “hate speech” or “racism” on Mr. Shapiro’s part? I’ve actually HEARD his radio show, and, both in the times when I agree with him and the times when I don’t, he addresses issues thoroughly and thoughtfully.

    • Your mockery of the Laffer Curve shows how little you understand about economics. It’s a real, proven concept. No, it doesn’t mean that every time you cut taxes you get more revenue. It shows that when you cut taxes, you get less tax avoidance, which can paradoxically lead to higher revenues in *some* cases. This has been proven in both models and the real world. More broadly speaking, the conveniently ignored concept of tax avoidance demonstrates why liberal tax hikes always fail. Liberals always neglect to score their tax proposals dynamically. A 10% tax hike doesn’t mean you get 10% more in revenue. The real value might be something like 9% or 8% due to tax avoidance and behavior changes.

      But I know that your low watt liberal brain didn’t want a nuanced discussion of the Laffer Curve. You just wanted to throw around some insults by mocking conservative concepts you have no understanding of.

      Go watch some more John Oliver so you can feel smart again.

  4. I am an alumnus as well. I am also a US citizen and will be paying for a trillion dollar plus war in Iraq for quite a while. I have never been to Iraq. I have heard these conservative “ideas” before. Failure and hypocrisy. Show me that Laffer Curve again.

    The victim-hood never goes away. Complaints by an organization that advocates for more weapons complaining about cost hurdles because of security measures demanded by Shapiro himself speaks volumes.

    And the Young Americans for Freedom chair being a marketing major is perfect. Learning to sell things nobody needs to people who don’t need them. Meanwhile, the member of the Young Democratic Socialists is a Chem E major. Quoting Magnus Pyke, “Science!”

    • So your standard for American conservatism is a single president, George W. Bush? You do know that he has more in common with the pro-military left, than he does with the right, don’t you?

  5. When did the liberals become the free speech hating fascists? Oh wait, that is always the natural progression of socialism.

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