• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Rich Barlow

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

Comments & Discussion

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There are 52 comments on Conservative Commentator Ben Shapiro to Talk at BU

    1. These “conservative” students here at BU could be inviting someone like George Will or David Frum. Then they could tell us “we want to have a dialogue with liberal and leftist students” and it would sound sincere.

      Instead they pick a guy who’s bigoted and nasty. He talks about Muslims like they’re vermin, he punches down with his rhetorical attacks on the most vulnerable like transgender people, he insults Jews as essentially traitors to their people if they don’t vote like he does. This is the kind of person BU’s “conservative” students have chosen to invite to give a presentation, the worst of the worst.

      And then they act like they’re being treated unfairly when they get criticized for it. They pretend they’re surprised that they’re being judged for the kind of people they choose to surround themselves with an associate with and the kinds of rhetoric they’ve chosen to endorse.

      A note to YAF chair Diana Soriano (CAS’20): Ben Shapiro is a bad person. He may have the right to speak but you were not obligated to invite him. You know he’s a bad person and yet you’ve chosen to go out of your way to make a platform for him here at BU. Well, you’re going to be judged for that. Don’t expect us to praise you for it in the spirit of “celebrating free speech.” That’s just not how things work.

      1. Shapiro is not bigoted or nasty. He’s extremely rational and not particularly controversial if you actually listen to him.

        He’s pretty tame. If you’re offended, toughen up. No one cares about your feelings.

        Do your research before you have an opinion on him.

      2. Ben Shapiro’s viewpoints may not line up with yours, but that doesn’t make him a bad person. Not many people can articulate their argument the way that he can. Try disproving his positions based on facts and logic. Not many people can.

      3. I guess someone read the far left talking points and forgot to actually listen to Ben’s points of view. Typical leftists from MA, they hear what they want to hear and have no facts or points behind their arguments. So sad. Ben is a good person who loves this country and actually formulates his points of view from research, facts and contemplation. I guess it is just easier for students to repeat what their bias teachers say, rather then take the time to formulate an original thought. I would love to go to this event and I think all students should, because his points have validity and they might learn something.

  1. As a current low income/minority BU student, I find it outrageous that this is what BU is spending our money on. Students can go to other events for Ben Shapiro but the University allowing this horrid man on campus to spew hate speech is despicable. Also learning how many others feel similar to some of Shapiros ideas makes me feel unsafe on campus

      1. As a liberal I agree 100%. Being exposed to bad ideas and learning how to challenge them is part of a robust education. Whether or not you think Shapiro is right or wrong on things, as long as he is not crossing the line of calling for violence and engaging in good-faith debate, he should be welcome. And students are welcome to attend the event or not.

        Personally, I find him to be a pseudo-intellectual who doesn’t really have anything worthwhile to contribute to the conversation of how this country should be run, but he represents a large following of Trump supporters who consistently vote against their own interests, so its worth it to at least try and understand that perspective.

  2. As an alumnus, I find it abhorrent that BU is allowing a fascist to speak on campus. Just in this article, his words about trans people and Arabs show what his racist, supremacist ideology is. Shame on the entire administration, including Kenneth Elmore. You do not provide space for fascism; you fight it. Luckily, students on the right side of history are mobilising to show their opposition…

    1. First of all, his statements about trans people are just facts, if they offend you then that’s your fault. And second, the tweets about Arabs was 9 years ago when in his mid 20’s, he retracted that statement and would admit it was wrong. The fact that you want to just shut down opposing opinions is outrageous.

    2. He has thoroughly apologized for his tweet about Israelis/Arabs (and clarified that he was talking about leadership, not the populace), and if you think Shapiro is a fascist or supremacist, you simply haven’t listened to him or researched him at all.

    3. As an alumnus, I cringe to see the word “fascist” thrown around. Which side is trying to silence Shapiro and prevent free speech? And HE’S the fascidt?

    4. Before typing anything online, make sure you have any idea what you are saying. Ben Shapiro is UNDOUBTEDLY not a Fascist. You cannot just make a correlation between Ben Shapiro, a conservative and right-wing politician, and Giovanni Gentile’s far-left Fascism, which is basically socialism with a national identity.

  3. I may not agree with many of Ben Shapiro’s viewpoints, but I appreciate this initiative from the administration. From my personal experience, it seems that campuses have become echo chambers of one ideology that has become increasingly intolerant. Hiding in “safe spaces” without debate and true free thought will not enact change for the better. As a civilization, we are all in this together.

    1. “Hiding in “safe spaces” without debate and true free thought will not enact change for the better. As a civilization, we are all in this together.”

      Neither will deliberately inviting input from the absolute worst of the worst. Let him speak, but stop acting like those who have gone to great lengths to make it happen are doing us some kind of favor. We don’t need to be exposed to what he Ben Shapiro has to say and it won’t make any of us better people if we are. Of all the “conservatives” they could have invited, they invited one of the worst. Why is this good? It’s not. Stop acting like it is and patting yourself on the back for it, you know better.

      1. I just don’t understand how anyone could research Ben Shapiro for more than five minutes and reach the conclusion that he is “the worst of the worst”. He is often abrasive, and I often disagree vehemently with some of his points and rhetorical choices, but he is obviously a decent man, in my estimation. The way people talk about him you’d think he was Hitler reborn.

  4. I’m pleased that BU isn’t bowing to the current pleas by students to silence “hate speech”. All opinions matter. We should never fear hearing what we disagree with. Stop complaining and learn. We are all capable of forming our own decisions. These students who want to limit speech should get off of their moral highground and learn that this country was built on freedom. We don’t need their kind of leardership.

  5. My daughter who is at BU now told me that the school is paying $13,000 for his personal security detail. I’d like to know if this is standard for the school to pay for what is supposed to come out of a club’s $ account.

    1. As the treasurer for a major student organization, I can tell that it is not. The TTC has a 1,200 person capacity, so if YAF charged a $10 entrance fee then they would be able to pay for the security themselves. When we have applied for funding in the past, we have been told that event attendees are expected to able to pay for a $10 ticket themselves. The administration did not view it as being worth the university’s money to subsidize an event that imposes so small an obligation on its participants.

    2. I am also a parent and am horrified that we have to pay for this horrible guy to visit. He has voiced hate speech against my son. Let him speak as a learning experience for the kids, but please don’t make US pay for it when he has voiced hate speech against many students at BU! It should come out of club $$

    3. If the intolerant left could behave and not throw tantrums, he would not need $13000.00 of security. College campuses should allow free speech even if it bothers some people’s delicate sensibilities.

  6. Let’s ignore his abhorrent speech for a moment. Should we really find it acceptable that Boston University is spending $13,000 to host a speaker who believe in such things as progressive history and “Judeo-Christian values”? There is no academic merit to his books; these ideas are banal and unoriginal.

    If Young Americans for Freedom want to host such charlatans, as they have in Matthew Walsh, the burden is on them. I find it fraudulent that the University has spent so much money on an anti-academic (re: Mr. Shapiro’s book “Brainwashed”) podcast host.

    1. The $13,000 is more a reflection on the zeitgeist right now of unsafe environments for conservative speakers. I totally agree that this is an absurd number, but it is this high because of violent protests by students. I do not blame the university for allowing this much money in security, and I actually find it ironic that so many people are appalled by the amount. If you think that $13,000 is too much to pay for security – which it is – then you should stop creating a security problem in the first place. I disagree strongly with Shapiro, but I at least can recognize his right for physical safety.

  7. You know, a lot of people tweet things they regret in their early 20’s that usually get taken out of context by media. Sara Jeong anyone? Ben Shapiro is conservative, yes, but he isn’t filled with hate speech. The tweet about Jews voting for Obama makes perfect sense, ( as I understand the context and get where he is coming from) what he meant, was that Obama did not necessarily have Israel’s interests in mind, where a more conservative choice would have- and with so many enemies of Israel already, why vote for someone who might do something against your own country or people? (I’m getting into the mindset of ppl in 2008 who couldn’t yet see the results of Obama’s time in office) It’s like asking someone to purposely injure you, why would you do that? He just said it very very bluntly, which angered people who didn’t understand the context. BUT instead of shutting up opinions you don’t know— go to the debate and ASK HIM— Ben, what did you mean by this comment?? You might vehemently disagree, but then you might also be like, oh. That’s all? Why did the media make such a big deal of it then? Thank please go and form your own opinions, don’t just listen to second hand vitriol that is spewed and everywhere and SEE FOR YOUR SELF. Please have the intelligence to debate and form your own decisions instead of demonizing someone you don’t understand or agree with.

    1. I’m an American Jew; Israel is not my “own country or people.” Assuming that all American Jews do/should blindly support everything Israel does is a very old antisemetic trope, and conservative Jews like Shapiro use it as a shield to accuse other Jews of “disloyalty.” I’m an American, why should I support all the [messed] up stuff another country does just because they’re the same religion as me?

  8. Ben Shapiro is such a moderate, baseline conservative, He’s not even controversial, Andrew Yang was on his show recently … would a Democratic candidate tie themselves to someone so supposedly problematic?

    Really, don’t buy into the emotional hysterics, just Google him.

    People protesting Shapiro are really showcasing how uninformed they are. It’d be nearly impossible to oppose Ben Shapiro so strongly if you were informed past his two redacted gaffes.

  9. I honestly think that we aught to have him. Everyone has a right to their beliefs and values whether or not I choose to be part of that belief is entirely up to me. I feel in our society today as if I am being bullied into adopting someone else’s ideologies because my voice is taken from me. Doesn’t every one have the right to their belief. It is as of you are compelling me to agree with you. I don’t think this man is doing that I believe he is brave enough to stand up for what he believes in. Like I detest the use of same sex bathrooms, I came out of a stall and a man was in there psychologically I shut down had to go back into the stall for composure. Came and re read the sign to ensure I was in the right rest room. But you know what I can’t speak up because how dare I express how fearful that makes me feel. We have to be more respectful of what other views just as how they would want to me to respect theirs.

  10. Although I agree that Shapiro is an evil little man who espouses dangerous views, liberals have to be careful that we don’t play into his conservative victimhood narrative. Shapiro is a major figure in the right-wing propaganda machine because he layers his objectively hateful opinions with pseudo-intellectual “marketplace of ideas” rhetoric. He wants nothing more than to point to college students at places like BU as being intolerant and unable to handle debate on controversial topics. He and his conservative trolls love to act persecuted and trying to bar him from campus is part of the plan.

    The best thing to do is to let him come, fill the room with protestors, and ask him confrontational question after question about how he spreads hate with flimsy arguments that he tries to sell as sophisticated. Remember, we are the ones with logic and compassion on our side. Make him defend himself.

  11. BU supporting LGBT: Simply hanging a rainbow flag in GSU

    BU supporting hate speech: Spending 13K+ “student’s money for Ben Shapiro”

    Also, I remember he said he would bring a gun to beto’s house if he demanded all schools offer LGBT-related classes. That sounds like a mIlD cOnSeRvAtIvE.

  12. Honestly for the life of me I cannot understand what it is about right wing hate speech that compels people to CELEBRATE it as if that’s the only way they can prove they believe in free speech.

    Like the saying goes: “the hard thing about being a centrist is finding the right balance between defending the right and criticizing the left.” People seem almost obsessed with talking about how wonderful it is to expose ourselves to hate speech. I find it appalling.

    We can acknowledge that he has a right to speak and still think it’s disgusting that these “conservative” BU students actually want him to. There is no academic or intellectual value to anything Ben Shapiro has to say and people who keep saying, “I disagree with him but we need to hear from him” are idiots who only talk that way about right wingers.

  13. This man espouses views that are antithetical to the university’s supposed commitment to diversity and inclusion. This is not about allowing “a different view” to be heard — this man would like to see me and alums like me oppressed, disenfranchised, and killed. His hateful rhetoric is not welcome here, and neither is the student group bringing him to campus. I guess BU cares more about its rich white students than its vulnerable populations.

    1. This comment is just absurd. Ben Shapiro obviously doesn’t wish harm upon you and honestly I think you need to take a step back and rethink your view of the guy.

  14. As someone who grew up in a country without freedom of speech for the first few years of my life I cannot believe how much you hear about what may constitute hate speech and what does not on U.S. college campuses today . Who defines this exactly? Those who scream the loudest in opposition to Ben Shapiro speaking on campus have never had their freedom of speech restricted. They have no idea what it means that you cannot speak your mind. What it means that you are threatened with repercussions if you try to do so anyway. Freedom of speech is not restricted to agreeing with you – it is freedom of speech, period. Just because you shut things down does not mean that people will change their mind. It just means that they will not talk publicly about it. The concept of “hate speech” is only there to restrict speech that some don’t agree with. I certainly hope that more conservative speakers are invited to campus and that the threats of those who disagree with them stop. This is the only reason why the security detail is necessary. I also hope that the commission on campus, which was formed to discuss freedom of speech will come to the right conclusion, that is that freedom of speech should be universal on campus and not restricted to certain ideas. The fact that there needed to be a commission in the first place clearly shows that this is not guaranteed.

    1. As a citizen of a country, in which you can be sentenced more than five years for tweet criticising the government, in which 5 of my close friends and me were beaten with batons and arrested for stating that it’s not fine to openly falsificate the elections, I do completely agree with you.
      We all find a lot of ideas offensive, but prohibiting people to speak freely is really the first step to prohibiting people to think freely. Political rhetoric usually is offensive for different groups of people, but you should never trade your psychological comfort for freedom and liberty, and I believe it’s the best time for all of us to understand that and appreciate the liberty we have.
      Your student

  15. As a current student, I find it unsettling that such a liberal and open campus will welcome such a monster. Boston University will always be on the wrong side of history for this… We are the alma mater of Marting Luther King Jr.

  16. As a BU parent of a student in the LGBTQ community, I worry more about the safety of the kids at this loser’s speech. I hope you will do all you can to keep the students safe-even if it is from each other. And please don’t make parents of children who are hate speech targets of this man pay for him to be there. Should come out of club dollars. Making parents pay for this is an insult!

  17. I am glad he will be coming. Universities
    need to hear all opinions. Unfortunately universities have no trouble having very left speakers. The left try to suppress speech
    And their protests are violent
    Look what happened to dean at Middlebuty college from being attacked
    I wish BU would let him speak on central campus not at the tennis center of all places
    This makes admin look like cowards
    If people are offended by Ben then look up video if Milo Yiamopulus He is way over the top

  18. I have two children who are students at BU. Just as I am happy to have one hear Susan Rice speak next month, I will be happy if they hear Ben Shapiro speak. Part of the college experience is to be exposed to opposing views so you can develop your own beliefs and convictions.

  19. Ben Shapiro is a decent man, he speaks facts, doesn’t say anything just to be provocative, anybody who hates him, just think about how you would feel if people had misinformation about someone on your side of the asile, and were slandering him baselessly. That’s what’s happening here, he is friends with Sam Harris, Andrew yang, Joe Rogan, Eric Weinstein, Etc. he is not at all a radical, he is very well rounded.

  20. BU, I am so happy you are bringing Ben Shapiro to Boston!

    Extreme leftist are effectively excluding people with any belief they find different from their own while claiming to be spearing the way for inclusiveness and diversity. I really hope exclusion is not the solution in this case. The people opposing this chance for their peers who do support conservative values or Ben Shapiro as an individual, are coming off as weak minded, weak willed, and emotionally hysterical.

    Hate speech is protected under free speech! This is important, I have the right to hate you for any reason I so chose. I have a right to voice that hate. You have the right to hate me or say to me anything you want to at that point. You also have the right to walk away, or stay, or whatever suits your fancy.

    That being said, we do not have the right to force each other to stop hating, start hating, or incite violence in any way. No matter how offended you are by someone’s choice of words or opinions keep your hands to yourself. If the overly dramatic extreme leftist would stop attacking conservative speakers on college campuses this would be a lot less costly of an event.

    I listen to Ben Shapiro frequently and I have never heard him call for violence against anyone. He isn’t even trying to take away rights from the LGBTQ community. He just believes what they are doing is wrong, and refuses to allow their decisions, or made up vocabulary and biology be forced into his life.

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