Conservative commentator and Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Wire Ben Shapiro said that the Left wants to “restrict freedom of speech” on college campuses by labeling it ‘hate speech,’ in an appearance at the University of Southern California (USC) Thursday night.
“The easiest way to restrict freedom of speech on campus is by claiming that some sort of hate speech has been used, right? I am a purveyor of hate speech. This is what I’ve been told by the protestors outside,” Shapiro said at the event, which was hosted by the USC chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF).
Shapiro noted that ‘hate speech’ does not appear in the U.S. Constitution, and argued that “the Left” uses the term to cover “stuff they disagree with.”
“Let’s be clear: there is no constitutional category called ‘hate speech,’” Shapiro said. “The reason there is no constitutional category called hate speech is because that which many of us call ‘reasonable speech’ the Left says is hate speech. They say that a lot of stuff they disagree with is just hate speech.”
Shapiro said that, while there are some words that are “fairly objectively hateful,” the government should not be able to ban even those words. He pointed out that the nation’s Founders did not intend for the government to be able to restrict speech.
“I think that there is certain speech that is fairly objectively hateful. People who use the n-word, right, I think that’s objectively hateful. Does that mean it gets to be banned? Even there, I say, ‘No,’ because the fact is that I don’t want the government deciding what speech can and cannot be said – and the constitutional founders agreed with this,” Shapiro said. “They also did not want the government deciding what can and cannot be said, even stuff that I find absolutely vile.”
Shapiro took issue with the term “microaggression,” arguing that it is “idiotic.”
“They say that I’m somehow micro-aggressing somebody… The idea is that I’ve performed some sort of minor aggression on you, by speaking, and, therefore, you get to act with macro-aggression against me,” Shapiro said.
“Why don’t you just say that you don’t like what I’m saying, and you’re a little offended, and then I’ll say I don’t care, and then we can go about our daily business?” he added.
He also took issue with attempts to “redefine” speech as violence and even use it to incite violence.
“The dirty little secret is that identity politics advocates know that I’m not advocating violence, have never advocated violence and would not advocate violence. So instead what they do, is they just redefine my speech as violence:
“Oh, you said something. And that hurt me.”
Shapiro made a face and rolled his eyes, then borrowed the words of former Republican California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“In the words of our former governor, ‘Stop whining.’”
“Once you start labeling speech violence, it’s pretty easy to justify to yourself, ‘Hey, I can use violence in response to speech,’” Shapiro said.
Despite efforts by some USC students to disrupt Shapiro’s speech at USC, the event took place as planned. Shapiro thanked the administration of USC for “doing the right thing” and allowing him to speak at the event.
“I keep thanking USC for doing the right thing, because I think that when campuses do the right thing they ought to be praised. So, ‘Thank you’ to USC for doing the right thing,” Shapiro said.