Campus Free Speech

DePaul Bans Ben Shapiro Over Safety Concerns Caused by Liberals

The heckler's veto in action


Ben Shapiro
Screenshot via The Rubin Report

DePaul University told conservative students that they couldn't bring Ben Shapiro to campus to give a talk—his presence is a safety concern, according to college officials.

Of course, Shapiro himself isn't the problem. The problem is that easily-offended liberal students might cause trouble—heckling, rioting, perhaps violence—if Shapiro speaks. Instead of dealing with this, DePaul apparently finds it easier to deny the conservatives a speaking platform.

"Given the experiences and security concerns that some other schools have had with Ben Shapiro speaking on their campuses, DePaul cannot agree to allow him to speak on our campus at this time," DePaul spokesperson Bob Janis told the campus's chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, according to The Daily Wire.

DePaul previously prohibited Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos from coming back to campus, for similar reasons.

DePaul is a private university, so its students don't have First Amendment rights. Campus officials are legally entitled to discriminate against conservative speakers, students, and viewpoints.

But that doesn't mean they should. The free exchange of ideas is certainly going to suffer at DePaul as a result. If Person A wants to speak on campus, Group X makes threats against Person A, and DePaul responds by capitulating to Group X and banning Person A, the campus is going to have problems. Why shouldn't YAF respond by making threats against the College Democrats' desired speakers?

This is why the heckler's veto is so destructive—it gives power to those who wish to limit free expression on campus.

YAF, to its credit, has ruled out using such tactics:

This is not the occasion to go into detail about each and every time we feel that we have come under fire by the school we call home, but we want everyone paying attention to realize that, although we may have different political views than you do, we want our campus to be one that upholds our fundamental rights. This means that you will not see us picketing to keep the DePaul Socialists from hosting someone, you will not see us petitioning the administration to ban a speaker that the DePaul Feminist Front is attempting to bring to campus, and you will not see us congregating en masse on the Quad in order to forcefully shut down a speech we disagree with. Today we call upon the administration to overturn its decision to bar Ben Shapiro from campus and to truly promote free speech moving forward.

If DePaul can't stomach allowing students to hear from a conservative, it has no business touting itself as an institution where free inquiry is valued.