The current political divisiveness playing out on the national stage reared its head on campus Wednesday when conservative speaker and writer Ben Shapiro drew both support and vehement outcry as the DailyWire.com editor-in-chief spoke out against safe spaces and other movements he sees as inhibiting free speech.
Protesters attended Shapiro’s speech,“Dismantling Safe Spaces: Facts Don’t Care About Your Feelings,” to speak out against his message, repeatedly interrupting his talk with shouts of “shame” and “safety,” which drew sharp criticism from attendees. One such audience member called on the protesters to “shut the frick up and listen to the man,” earning a standing ovation from the crowd.
Tensions came to a head when protesters, repeating their “safety” chant, formed a line in front of the stage, with UW Police Department officers standing nearby.
Audience members countered the protesters by waving their UWPD handouts detailing protest guidelines and chanted, “free speech matters.”
Shapiro turned to the blackboard and wrote “MORONS,” earning cheers from the audience.
Protestors left the event of their own accord as audience members sang “Hey, hey, hey, goodbye.” Continued chants of “fuck white supremacy” filled the hallway.
Inside, Shapiro continued with his lecture, followed by an hour-long Q&A session.
Protestors engaged in conversation with overflow viewers nearby and thanked members of UWPD for their service at the event.