Last Thursday, Ben Shapiro — editor-at-large of Breitbart.com and a FOX News contributor — spoke at UCSB’s Loma Pelona Center as the keynote speaker of an event hosted by UCSB College Republicans.
His speech, titled “Dismantling the Left’s Anti-Gun Media Strategies,” focused specifically on what he termed the “emotive bullying” strategies that left-leaning media outlets use to substantiate their position. Central to his speech were his “10 Rules for Debating a Liberal” and experiences arguing with CNN host Piers Morgan.
Shapiro said during his debate with Morgan that the host and others on the left were “standing on the graves of the children who died at Sandy Hook” in order to use the tragedy as a weapon with which to ban guns. According to Shapiro, this somewhat jarring strategy was necessary to prevent the liberal media from using emotional arguments to unfairly attack and criticize the right to bear arms.
“Knowledge and evidence are what are supposed to win arguments, but in the media, that’s not how it works,” Shapiro said. “In the media, passion is what wins arguments. Emotions are what win arguments.”
Shapiro also emphasized what he sees as the media’s tendency to create bias by refraining from showing certain things, thus eliminating them from the public’s view.
“The audio that always gets played is the very emotional audio, where someone is breaking down and crying on camera,” Shapiro said. “That’s what’s going to get played, not the actual argument, or what should happen, or what legislation is good and what legislation is bad.”
According to Shapiro, the media exhibits a preference for showing more emotionally flattering images of liberal politicians — such as Hilary Clinton — and replays clips of her defending herself, while neglecting to show clips where she struggles to justify factual inaccuracies in the events that led up to U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens’ death.
Regarding the idea of universal background checks, Shapiro said the principle is solid, but the practical roadblocks that would affect its implementation outweigh the benefits it may present.
“Unfortunately, there is no god-like system that we could create without either a universal registry or violation of rights in a pretty significant way,” Shapiro said.
Alice Gilbert, second-year psychology major and president of the College Republicans, said Shapiro is an adept speaker who sets a standard of how to address sensitive subjects in ways that are not only effective, but respectful.
“I am a Shapiro fan, so I was happy to have him here from the beginning and I thought that he spoke very well,” Gilbert said. “He’s a smart guy and he can take a contentious issue like gun control and articulate his thoughts very well. While it’s not the most popular opinion, he does a great job of representing the other side of this debate.”
However, third-year theater major Isaac Villa Remijio said he thought the speech was less informative and respectful than it was a polarization of people with differing viewpoints.
“I had a lot of problems with how he argued this debate. He made it into a ‘right-left’ thing with two different sides and I feel like that is the wrong way to go about this” Remijio said. “He really made it an argument about these stereotypes and not about the issues.”