Ben Shapiro sat down with me to answer a plethora of questions ranging from free speech to social justice to his opinions on transgender pronouns. His answers are sure to trigger the left-wing campus outrage mob. Without further ado, here is my conversation with Ben Shapiro.
Phillip Nieto (PN): I’m sure, as you know, there’s been a lot of controversy around you coming to campus.
Ben Shapiro (BS): Shocker! I can’t believe it. [Laughs]
PN: There’s been one professor specifically that doesn’t want you here — Dr. Nina Lozano.
PN: She stated on Twitter, “Ben Shapiro espouses hate speech, and is linked to numerous hate groups. As a LMU Professor, I will be organizing protests, and alerting the media of LMU's decision to support hate speech—which is completely antithetical to our University Mission.” Why shouldn’t a university stop speech that is antithetical to its mission?
BS: Well I mean first of all, you’d have to explain how my speech is antithetical to their mission. She doesn’t bother doing that. She simply doesn’t like what I’m saying, so it becomes hate speech. So, if she wants to make an articulative argument as to why I’m particularly hateful, or why I’m running counter to the LMU mission, then she’s free to do that. But simply shouting at the wind that I engage in hate speech and that my mission is antithetical to the universities — she’s going to have to do better than that.
PN: She made a petition.
BS: Oh good.
PN: It’s received about 500 signatures from academics across the country that didn’t want you to come tonight. They believe your speech will incite violence on minorities, the LGBTQ+ community and people of color. They say you’ve said transgender people have a mental disorder. Could you clarify that position? What do you mean by that?
BS: Yes, transgenderism is a mental disorder, as gender identity disorder or gender dysphoria as specifically named by the DSM-4 or DSM-5, [respectively]. If they wish to go against the DSM-4 or DSM-5 they are free to do so. And If they wish to explain how it is not in fact a mental disorder for you to believe you are a member of the opposite biological sex, that this isn’t some form of body dysphoria, they can make an argument as to why that is.
How that leads to violence against people — I’m entirely astonished by that argument. I mean, there are mentally ill people in my family. That's not an excuse for people to be violent against those people. It’s a case for sympathy, it’s a case for compassion and it’s a case for trying to deal with this in the most realistic possible way without undermining fundamental concepts of Western Civilization, such as biology, and the bifurcation of human sex.
I’m astonished at the argument that just because I disagree with you about the classification of transgenderism as a mental disorder that this is me now calling for violence against people. I’ve never called for violence against anybody. They can’t provide any evidence that I’ve ever called for violence against anybody. They can never cite any instance in which I called for violence against anybody. Yet, they keep saying that my followers are committing acts of violence against people. They’re going to have to show me how that’s the case. I’ve spoken at dozens of campuses at this point, there hasn’t been a single instance in which one of my followers has gone and committed an act of violence. There’s been several instances in which people have come to lectures and committed acts of violence against the people who wanted to speak.
BS: Berkeley, Cal State Los Angeles, Penn State — there have been a fair number of them.
PN: You often cite the [UCLA] study that finds a 40 percent lifetime suicide attempt rate among the transgender population as reasoning for transgenderism being a mental disorder. How do you go against the argument made by many on the left that if people like you—evil racists such as yourself—
PN: —just accepted them, then the suicide rate wouldn’t be as high?
BS: Well, I mean, the suicide rate is fairly consistent across communities. Meaning that the lifetime suicide rate seems to be, according to this UCLA study, the suicide rate seems to hold regardless of whether people are identified or not identified as transgender.
Furthermore, there is still an exponentially higher suicide rate among transgender people who are living in very transgender-friendly areas. And also, my suggestion that men are not women and women are not men is not a license to treat people badly. Why would that lead to suicide? The argument that a 40 percent suicide rate is a result of direct discrimination is fairly weak. We don’t actually sociologically know what causes suicide, as a general rule, except in certain cases of mental illness.
The idea that outside pressures cause suicide is a very weak sociological argument. [Saying that] bullying causes suicide — even that is a very tenuous argument. The same folks who suggest that it is outside pressure that cause suicide in transgender folks would, I assume, argue that America is also a very racist place and treats black people very poorly. The suicide rates in the black community are extraordinarily low. So, I don’t see the data connection there.
Even if the argument were to be that you are supposed to misclassify people by biology in order to reduce self-harm — I don't think that's an excuse to not tell the truth about things. Meaning the effect of the truth is an effect of the truth, but none of that is a license to treat people terribly. Treating people terribly should be forbidden in all situations. But I don’t think it's treating people terribly to say on a broad level that man is a man and woman is a woman and that if you believe that you are a member of the opposite sex that this is not the symptom of mental health. That’s not mistreatment. By the way, I’ve said openly many times that if I were in a situation where I was at dinner with someone who was transgender—
PN: You would refer to them by their pronouns.
BS: Yes, I would refer to them by their pronouns. Why wouldn’t I? I mean there’s no point. But if I’m talking publicly about what a man or a woman is, I’m not going to give credence to an argument that has no biological or logical basis. It doesn’t make any sense.
PN: Social justice is sort of written into LMU’s mission. The University really promotes social justice activism. You’ve stated in the past that you believe social justice is inherently evil. What do you mean by that?
BS: What I mean by that is social justice, as interpreted by the progressive left, is the suggestion that we ought to use group justice to trump individual justice. So social justice suggests that we ought not treat you as an individual. That Instead we should treat you as a member of a group. So social justice dictates that we ignore certain crimes because we have to even out the effects in communities, or social justice dictates that we have to take money from one person and give it to another person, in violation of the first person’s rights because we have to rectify social justice imbalances. That’s a violation of individual justice. If the idea of social justice is effectively that we are just supposed to socially treat each other well then, I agree. But that’s not the way people have treated it.
PN: Why is the left so obsessed with shutting people down like yourself, Dave Rubin, Jordan Peterson and conservatives in general on college campuses?
BS: Well I think there’s a real attempt by members of the left to paint people who are heterodox—I mean Dave is not a registered republican and Jordan isn’t even an American commentator.
PN: Just a few years ago Dave worked for TYT (The Young Turks).
BS: Right, exactly. I believe I’m the only registered Republican member of the IDW (intellectual dark web). We’re portrayed as an alt-right white supremacist far right group. It’s insane. There’s not a single person on there who believes in white supremacy, we all hate it. There’s not a single person on there who is alt-right. And I’m the only registered Republican in the group. The reason people are very angry with people like me speaking on campus is because the left sees campuses as their domain, where no one may question their feelings. And they see questioning of their political priorities as an attack on their identity.
BS: Well that is a sign of deep political unhealthiness. If you believe I can’t say your ideas are wrong without it being an attack on you as a human being, then we can’t have any sort of political conversation, ever. If you retreat to your identity every time I say your argument is bad, how exactly are we supposed to have a conversation? I mean I can do the same thing and we can just yell at each other about our identities all day, but that doesn’t seem likely to promote a positive discourse.
Colleges and universities were not built to protect your feelings. They were supposed to be built as a forum for open discourse. The fact that so many people seem to believe colleges are supposed to provide a subjective safe space, as opposed to a place where your ideas are challenged, is a fundamental rejection of the purpose of universities in the first place.
PN: Your event tonight is called, “The mainstream media's big lies.” How has the media gone so insane? We’ve known that they’ve had a liberal bias for a few decades — more than that. But what has caused it in recent years? Trump? Is it Trump?
BS: I mean they started to do it under Bush, there was a Bush derangement syndrome. There was a broad feeling on the left, and in the media, that Barack Obama had created a fundamental sea change in American politics. That Democrats were never going to lose the presidency again, that all of the right-wing forces were in retreat and when Trump, who is the most unlikely candidate ever to win the presidency by a long shot, you know a real estate orange man—
PN: Orange man bad.
BS: [Laughs] Right yeah, who legitimately doesn’t know things. When this guy beats the woman, who was appointed the next president since like 1992, then the media basically just couldn’t deal with it. So, they crafted a bunch of different narratives to explain why Trump won. As opposed to the real reason why Trump won — Hillary was a terrible candidate. And people didn’t trust the media coverage because the media coverage was insanely biased.
PN: What would you say to the people outside protesting your event instead of attending it, and to the professors in academia protesting your presence on college campuses across America?
BS: I’ve said it one thousand times: if they want to come to my lectures and ask questions, I am more than happy to have philosophically fruitful exchanges with people. I like conversations, I enjoy them. I’ve been doing them my entire life. I’ve spent my entire life living in areas where everyone disagrees with me. When I was at Harvard Law School my favorite conversations were with people who disagreed with me. I’m bewildered by folks who don’t want to have a conversation. They’re more concerned with attacking my motives, or ascribing beliefs to me that I do not hold. I’m constantly shocked and amazed by the beliefs that are ascribed to me that I do not hold. It’s an incredible thing. People [are] suggesting that I’m sort of immigration hardliner who wants to cut off all immigration. That’s not true at all. I’m a libertarian. What are you talking about? People who ascribe white supremacy to me, I was the number one target of the alt-right. I hate those guys, they’re the worst. People who ascribe beliefs to me about Muslims — I was against Trump's originally formulated Muslim ban and I was in favor of Ilhan Omar being able to wear a hijab on the floor of the House [of Representatives]. Where are they getting this crap?
PN: You’re not friends with Richard Spencer?
BS: I mean the violent language that I would use if it would not blow back on me, would be astonishing [Laughs]. I think Richard Spencer’s belief system is awful, and I think it is evil. I been very clear about this. Yet, if you don’t want to listen to anyone else’s viewpoint then it's pretty easy to castigate them as what you want them to be.
Hopefully the left will one day pay attention to what conservatives like Ben Shapiro actually have to say. They might even find themselves agreeing with him.
This the opinion of Phillip Nieto, a freshman political science major from Fresno, California. Tweet comments @LALoyolan, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.