Rebuttal: Ben Shapiro is worth your money

Joseph Ballard, Contributing Writer

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To be honest, I’m a bit puzzled by the most recent Crimson White column titled “Opinion: Ben Shapiro isn’t worth your money.” The author argues that, despite the immense demonstrated interest in the event, tickets to hear Shapiro speak are a waste of money. Accusing Shapiro of “hiding” behind paid tickets (nearly 80 percent of them were free), the author conjectures that Shapiro is a “coward.” The author seems to have conducted very little research about the planned event, and it shows. A lot of claims were made, and most – if not all of them – lacked factual integrity.

CLAIM: “The University of Alabama doesn’t often have large political figures visit its campus.”

In the past four years, the school has brought in the following speakers:

  • Bill Nye the Science Guy through the Blount Undergraduate Initiative (paid for by the University)
  • Jesse Jackson (paid for by University Programs and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion)
  • Ladonna Harris (paid for by Department of American Studies, and the Women and Gender Resource Center)
  • Margaret Atwood (paid for by the English Department)

The only conservative speakers to speak on campus the past four years were Lt. Col. Allen West, Sen. Rick Santorum and now Shapiro, which have all been paid for by Young America’s Foundation.

CLAIM: “There are three kinds of tickets listed on the event website: a free ticket that guaranteed entry, but no seat…”

Everyone with a ticket to this event will be admitted to this event as long as they are there before 6:50 p.m. The best part is that they will all have seats. Even though this event has warranted standing room only, no one will be forced to stand. The purpose of not guaranteeing a seat is to allow for those in the standby line to come into the lecture should an individual with a free ticket not show up prior to the start of the lecture.

CLAIM: “Over the past few days, the Alabama Student Ticket Exchange Facebook page has been filled with people begging for tickets. People offered absurd amounts of money, some that could pay my rent for a month, to get a picture with a right-wing troll.”

Shapiro is certainly not a troll. In fact, he’s a New York Times Best-Selling Author and a Harvard-educated attorney. We have made it a point to let ticket holders know that anyone caught selling tickets would have their tickets refunded. Why? Because we want this lecture to be open to as many students as possible.

CLAIM: “Do you really want to spend all that money to watch some Republican mouthpiece spout the same things that you could see on YouTube for free? Do you really want to wait in a long line to possibly listen to him yell false information at a crowd for an hour or so?”

Why would you ever go to a concert when you can just listen to YouTube in your room?  I rest my case.

CLAIM: “The truth is that I don’t know. When I reached out for comment, I was redirected by the Alabama chapter of YAF to the national spokesperson, who never responded. I look forward to hearing their reasoning, but I’m sure that, whatever the answer is, it’s not a good one.”

The only fact to come out of this column, ironically, was when the author admitted that she “didn’t know” much about why we were charging for the event. For context, when the author reached out to me, it was on a Sunday morning while I was at church. Members of our YAF Chapter have received hundreds of Facebook messages regarding this event from students wanting tickets (the ones we’re “taking advantage of”), and it was only after I responded to the author’s question that she told me that she was a columnist. I am disappointed in the complete lack of professionalism this author exhibited.

CLAIM: “If Shapiro really wanted to speak to UA students, he’d do it free of charge. He wouldn’t be hiding behind a ticket price to take a picture with him. He would encourage people to talk to him and exchange ideas. But I guess when you’re a coward, that’s what you do.”

While we would love to be able to facilitate an event where everyone who wanted to meet Ben would be able to, it just is not feasible with time constraints. That being said, 77% of the tickets being distributed are absolutely free. Ben is more than willing to engage with students, which is evident by many of his past lectures.

CLAIM: “And for those who paid for the VIP experience: I hope you enjoy discussing racist propaganda over light refreshments with the “Baby Hitler” guy.”

Accusing Ben Shapiro of being a “racist” propagandist draws away from actual racists. Where is the evidence?

The author took Ben’s quote at the March for Life event out of context. At the event, Ben said, “No pro-life person on earth would kill baby Hitler, because baby Hitler wasn’t Hitler, adult Hitler was Hitler.”

Free VIP tickets and priority access to the question line have been offered to members of the College Democrats and members of the Young Democratic Socialists of America. Why? Because we support the expression of free speech. We prioritized giving these students access to the event so that they could have an opportunity to challenge the ideology presented. Still, we will be encouraging those who disagree with Ben to come to the front of the Q/A line, of which a majority of the lecture will be dedicated to.

In short, we look forward to welcoming more than 1,000 members of the UA community to our lecture on February 12th. To Sara Beth, since you think Ben is a “coward”, we would love to provide you with a complimentary press pass, including access as the first person to ask him a question once the Q/A starts. Thank you.