Editorial: A response to Ben Shapiro

Ben Shapiro speaks on Wednesday night in Rome Ballroom. He made a speak and allowed a Q&A after his speech (Charlotte Lao/The Daily Campus).

It is best to begin by recognizing that apologies are in order. Our initial piece reflecting on Ben Shapiro and Nathan Robinson speaking at UConn incorrectly interpreted a quote by Mr. Shapiro given in an interview the next day, and the error was not caught before we printed. It was an honest mistake, but a mistake nonetheless, and no one deserves to have their words mischaracterized. We at the Editorial Board apologize for this not only to Mr. Shapiro but to our readers.

However, we will not sit by idly while Mr. Shapiro mocks and derides us for what was a relatively small error. For those unfamiliar with the incident, Mr. Shapiro’s remarks that he “ripped at least one guy’s throat out” and that he “went in there and started tearing them apart” were mischaracterized as evidence that Shapiro took an aggressive stance on debating that did not foster respectful discussion. However, in the interview it is instead clear that Mr. Shapiro was referring to how students at UConn were “scared” of him and he was joking about how he wasn’t a threat, not referring to his rhetorical style.

 

For misinterpreting a quote because it was not viewed in full context, the Daily Campus Editorial Board was called “apparently illiterate and/or deeply dishonest” by Mr. Shapiro.  Mr. Shapiro did not reach out to us to find out why his words had been misrepresented. He most likely didn’t care why, as it gave him a great opportunity to score some easy political points by pointing out how a college newspaper (inevitably interpreted by his supporters as being liberal) was lying about him to make him look bad.

The article in question was actually criticizing both sides of the political spectrum for antagonizing those with opposing views in a way that did not foster respectful debate or an exchange of ideas. It was not intended to be a hit piece on Mr. Shapiro. The quote was used to support the idea that he does not foster a respectful discussion, but the point made is still supported by numerous other instances, such as his Berkeley speech in which he refers to certain political actors as “pusillanimous cowards” or the number of times he belittles those protesting him. In fact, criticizing our publication in the manner Mr. Shapiro did shows that he is much more concerned with insults and pandering to his supporters than he is with facilitating a useful discourse.

In the future, we ask that Mr. Shapiro please reach out to us directly if we make mistakes reporting on him (or anyone for that matter). Additionally, we hope that Mr. Shapiro at least considers heeding our advice and attempt cutting back on his insults for the sake of fostering a productive dialogue where both sides of the political spectrum can better communicate their ideas.