By Mark Weyermuller -
This week at DePaul University in Chicago, free speech was attacked. Attorney Ben Shapiro was banned from speaking and threatened with arrest. Shapiro is also a political commentator, author, and former editor at Breitbart News.
Here is a video posted by "Fan of Ben Shapiro" that took place as Shapiro attempted to enter:
I attended the event at DePaul that was billed as a speech by Christina Hoff Sommers.
According to Wikipedia, Sommers is an American author, former philosophy professor, and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative think tank. Sommers is known for her critique of contemporary feminism. She spoke on safe spaces, trigger warnings and free speech.
The event was very unusual with heavy security, required RSVPs to enter and metal detectors. There are estimates of 40-80 private security and school administrative staff on site to control the crowd., including several Chicago police cars outside.
In comparison, a couple of months ago I heard conservative John Stossell speak at Northwestern University. There was one staff person on the premises, that unlocked the hall and left and no security. Free speech occurred with no incidents.
This week's DePaul event was sponsored by YAF - Young Americans for Freedom. There was a number of Trump supporters, and many students were wearing the "Make America Great Again" baseball caps.
Ms. Sommers led off the evening as the main speaker as Shapiro had been invited, but later banned.
While she spoke, Shapiro attempted to enter but was turned away. In a discussion outside with DePaul officials, Shapiro asked those threatening to arrest him, "Chicago has 4000 shootings, why are you worried about a 5"9" Jewish guy?"
After a couple minutes, Sommers received a Skype call from Ben Shapiro on which he explained that he was banned from entering and invited everyone to a theater off campus where free speech was allowed. At this point, everybody walked out and headed to the Greenhouse Theater a half mile away.
Once at the theater off campus, Shapiro and Sommers gave their presentations under no security and with no interruptions from the well-behaved crowd. They were both well received and stressed the importance of free speech.
Shapiro indicated that he did not support Donald Trump, yet these students wanted to hear his conservative message. One student told me he would listen and would not need a "therapy dog" to ease his tensions.
Here are some of his remarks via YouTube, posted by Mike Kaiser:
DePaul is the largest Catholic university in the country so it might expect a tolerance for conservative free speech. It should be allowed and welcomed. Earlier this year another speech was interrupted by protesters and had to be cancelled. In addition, conservatives were banned from "chalking" which is the act of writing in sidewalk chalk a message like Trump for President, which upset some people. I wrote about this earlier this year HERE.
All in all, I'm worried about DePaul along with many colleges and universities across the country. I applaud the student leaders who invited these speakers to their campus. They say it takes courage to fight bullies.
Will free speech be banned in the future at DePaul? I hope they consider the consequences.