OK, for the first time… well… ever… I have to actually agree with something that came out of Ben Shapiro’s mouth. This is not a comfortable situation.
Before we begin, let me say that Ben Shapiro is a misogynistic, short-sighted, borderline bigoted mouthpiece for the right-wing media. I consider myself a centrist, but for the most part, the stuff he comes up with still doesn’t land on my radar. I will defend to my last breath his right to say what he believes, however – no matter how much I can’t agree with it.
A short while back, he was on the Doctor Drew show with a panel discussing Caitlyn Jenner’s ESPN Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. To absolutely no ones’ surprise, he was totally against it. While Mr. Shapiro did indeed spout off with borderline bigoted comments, what happened during the show deserves further attention, and is being largely ignored and/or used to highlight Mr. Shapiro’s bias in many matters. The problem with this is that the incident has nothing to do with his short-sighted opinions, and more to do with a threat made against him on national television.
Here’s the relevant snippet of the show:
While I applaud Ms. Tur for standing up for her rights and opinions, the way she did it is unacceptable, inexcusable, and not helping anyone.
The discussion was heated, with Mr. Shapiro flat out refusing to use feminine pronouns to refer to Ms. Jenner; even going so far as to repeatedly refer to transgender identity as delusional. He was crude, impolite, and politically incorrect – but absolutely none of this is either out of character for Mr. Shapiro, or reason to threaten the man with physical harm. Ms. Tur specifically, and with no room for mis-interpretation, threatened the man with bodily harm on a nationally televised program. It’s there, on film, with all of the previous events leading up to it and none of them justifying it.
Mr. Shapiro has indeed requested that law enforcement investigate the matter, and I’ve got to say that’s about the most responsible thing one can do under the circumstances. He didn’t retort with his own threats, he didn’t storm off the stage as so many others have done in similar circumstances, he didn’t even take a cheap verbal shot at her. He just continued on with his – granted, ill-received – argument as if the threat didn’t occur, then followed the appropriate course of actions and brought the matter to the attention of the police.
Say what you want about Mr. Shapiro’s opinions – and I will do so continually – but no one should be threatened with harm because of an opinion. That’s what lead to the Danish Newspaper Cartoon killings, the attack on Charlie Hebdo, and so many other incidents it is sickening. The saddest part of this whole thing is that people proclaiming “Jes Suis Charlie” after the shooting are amongst the same people saying that Ms. Tur was reacting appropriately.
I agree with, and applaud, Mr. Shapiro on this one topic. We don’t see eye-to-eye on nearly anything, and actually don’t even see eye-to-eye on the topic he was speaking about when the incident happened. That doesn’t change the fact, however, that he was threatened with bodily harm. No one – not even those we vehemently disagree with – should ever have that hanging over them.
Encouraging and exploring free speech is a double-edge sword. It only becomes one sided when actual swords start rattling over it.