Free speech or hate speech? Ben Shapiro to speak at the University of Utah

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah News) -Free speech or hate speech? That will be the question Wednesday night when former Breitbart News editor Ben Shapiro speaks at the University of Utah in an event organized by the U of U Young Americans For Freedom.

The Facebook Event listing claims: “Ben Shapiro will take on leftist myths of white privilege, trigger warnings, microaggressions, and diversity.”

Dillon Clark is the Founder & Chairman of U’s Young Americans For Freedom chapter.

“The point of this event is to bring someone on campus that…we can exercise our First Amendment right,” Clark told ABC4 Utah News Tuesday. “The point is to have an exchange of ideas which is what college is really all about.”

There will be protests. A  group called SDS wants to “Shut Down Ben Shapiro” because they claim “Shapiro comes from a growing right-wing bigoted movement and he works actively to spread racist and anti-LGBTQ+ vitriol throughout the country.”

Nicole Robinson, U of U Assistant Vice President for Equity and Diversity, spoke at a Free Speech Panel on campus Monday.

“For many students, they’re very concerned about what they call the aftermath of Ben Shapiro’s speech,” Robinson said.

Clark tells ABC4 Utah he expects everything to go smoothly Wednesday night but they will be prepared in case it doesn’t.

“The University Police, their whole entire police force will be there around maybe a hundred police officers total,” Clark said. “There will be barricading around the venue and we have the SLPD Riot Squad on standby in case anything gets out of control.”

Dean of Students Lori McDonald says guidelines are in place and some items will not be allowed.

“Things like sticks on signs are being limited and umbrellas and things that could be projectiles,” McDonald said. “There’s speech but any type of assault is unlawful and that will be dealt with if needed at that point in time.”

Shapiro’s speech is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the 399-seat Social and Behavioral Science Auditorium. All tickets were distributed last Saturday.

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