Kyle Osborne is a writer on Medium. I am responding to his article titled What I Learned From Watching Ben Shapiro for a Week. I promised him I would more formally respond (Proof) to which he aptly said, "Looking forward to it!" In my opinion that's a good sign, as Kyle wants to actually have a discussion, unlike most critics of Shapiro and other members of the Intellectual Dark Web.
So let me just start with Kyle's subtitle: "It was painful."
"For a week I ate up all the Ben Shapiro filled content that I could, it started off being very difficult and irritating to watch, but after awhile I started to see where he’s coming from and I better acquainted myself with the strong and weak parts of his arguments instead of screaming no. I don’t agree with him by any means nor do I endorse anything that he says."
As you can see Kyle came in to this "adventure" adamantly anti-Shapiro and came out the same, but he had at least conceded to some things Shapiro talks about having good arguments in Shapiro's favor. I don't know what videos Kyle watched as there are literal thousands (if not maybe millions) of videos on Shapiro's debates and lectures.
Shapiro's Logical Structures
Kyle knows Ben's history (he is a lawyer, skipped multiple grades, went to college at 16-7) and concedes that Ben is an intelligent person and that it wasn't up for debate. However, Kyle took aim at the structures around his arguments.
"He has extremely logical arguments, if all of his premises are correct, it’s extremely difficult to prove him wrong (SPOILER: not everything he says is true or at least not as true as he likes to make it seem, but he’s great at making it seem like they are). He can construct a ridiculously sound argument with ease and he has a plethora of knowledge that he utilizes to back up his statements. The issue is, a lot of his information is biased — which I can’t blame him for, humans love things that agree with us. Shapiro has used old statistics to prove his points and utilized the “the latest literature in the field is biased” argument great in some of his debates. He can argue like a motherfucker, but I really do wish he could take left-wing literature seriously."
I find this rather this paragraph rather odd. One thing Shapiro loves to do is use Leftist literature (or the literature itself) to disprove Leftist studies. As well, if an argument has all true/valid premises it is a cogent argument and likely follows to a logical conclusion. Kyle himself even admits that "He can construct a ridiculously sound argument with ease and he has a plethora of knowledge that he utilizes to back up his statements."
His problem however lies with the fact some (or a majority) of his premises/arguments are biased to a certain side. This should be irrelevant; if the argument is sound it matters not what side it's biased to. To quote Shapiro, "Right is right and wrong is wrong. There is only the truth and our opinions."
As for the old stats part I'm not familiar with the part where you say “the latest literature in the field is biased." Shapiro often times exposes parts where structures in the literature are completely ridiculous. He doesn't care whether or not it's Left or whatever on principle; he only notes it for the sake of clarity. Shapiro uses information from both sides of the isle, so I would hardly find his arguments biased in that manner.
"Being bullied makes Shapiro’s public demeanor a lot less cool (not saying there’s anything wrong with being the victim of bullying). He gives off a very, “everyone should be as mature and smart as me” vibe, which usually goes hand in hand with being an ex-boy genius turned political champion. Shapiro brings up being bullied pretty regularly and draws comparisons between bullying and the treatment of conservatives by liberals."
I must first note that as I read this I recalled this quote and heard it rapid fire in Shapiro's speediness, but onto the response. When you enter a debate you are supposed to present a strong argument. It is not Shapiro's fault if his mannerisms put off that tone. Shapiro comes to have an honest discussion and is vocal about it.
Shapiro notes his childhood bullying to note that he knows what it's like to be bullied so when he says something is bullying it directly correlates to some aspect of his childhood bullying. For instance public slander, race baiting, general insults, and identity traps all fall under this category. I can personally say I've experienced these aspects too, due to Leftist professors at CSULB.
To quote Merriam-Webster a bully is "one who is habitually cruel, insulting, or threatening to others who are weaker, smaller, or in some way vulnerable." Now for the most part I wouldn't call Shapiro weak in many senses, but I will note that in the public sphere that someone's image is extremely vulnerable to manipulation. I don't know how much you've seen or even heard of the Conservative Problem. To summarize it being a conservative on a campus or in a public space in a leftist space is an extremely harsh zone. That's why speakers note it; it is a prevalent issue. I mean I'm a literal example. I wore a "Ben Shapiro for president" t-shirt the week after Politicon 2017 and was literally spat on and had pasta thrown at me by a group of Leftists at CSULB for microaggressing them (by wearing the shirt). Conservatives are shouted down in classrooms for their opinions (has happened to me before) and publicly ridiculed afterword.
For some context I was in a Sociology 100 class and I was the only male or white person for that matter too. We watched a video on White Privilege in class (~40 minutes) and I waited until the end so that I could ask questions, as that's what the end of class was dedicated to. I said I disagreed and the whole room stood up and was screaming at me (not exaggerating). The only person being somewhat rational was my professor who at least wanted to hear why. I will acknowledge that I know many of my classmates were ardent 3rd Wave Feminists (we did a class survey) so I can admit that the class was in many ways provoked into the riot it became.
So yea ... "the treatment of conservatives by liberals" is a big issue on colleges today. I mean you hardly hear about the opposite happening if I'm not mistaken (I usually see 1 or 2 articles a year about it).
Shapiro's Moderated Freedom Stance
"Shapiro is pro-freedom, freedom of speech, freedom to practice your religion, he’s all for freedom unless the religion you want to practice is Islam or you want him to call you a pronoun that doesn’t align with your genitals or you disagree with him. Shapiro really does America is the land of freedom and no group is being systematically oppressed and that this is truly the land of equal opportunity. Wish I lived in his world."
First let me just repeat the long standing "everything in moderation" quote. Now, this paragraph is overwhelmingly false. Yes Shapiro is for freedom of expression. What he has a problem with is compelled speech and religion oppressing others. He fully acknowledges there are moderate Muslims. His argument is for the Muslims who force others to conform to their religion's necessities. For instance, women's oppression in Muslim countries. I've asked Muslim women on my campus (they have a club) why they wore a hijab or the other 10+ styled headdresses. Most of them said this and I quote:
"If I don't wear it I won't be accepted by my family."
Call it what you want, but this is just as bad as Christians dissociating their children for being gay, etc. in my opinion. As a Christian I don't force people to abide by my morals, nor do I actively thrust it in their face. I'm not one of those people who goes places just to provoke a debate on religion (I despise most of these people). Regardless, he has no problem with other people practicing their religions as long as it doesn't restrict other's fundamental and prescribed freedoms. In Islamic countries women and non-heterosexuals are blatantly oppressed.
As for Shapiro's stance on transgenderism I must note that you aren't getting what he is saying. His whole argument is that unless you are born as a male or female you will never be one. You may "pass for cis," but your birth says otherwise. He's not denying them their humanity, but he isn't going to disregard their birth. Im pretty sure you wouldn't like to be compelled to say something you don't. That's his point.
Compared to the rest of the world the USA has by far the most freedoms, both socially and fiscally. As for the part about systemic oppression he constantly provides this retort "If some law is unjust or oppressing someone I will stand there and fight it with you, but just crying it is doesn't prove your point." As you will see Shapiro's point is that you actually have to point to an unjust law. If the problem is with a person in power that does not mean that the laws are immoral.
'Shapiro frequently attacks arguments that those disagreeing with him didn’t necessarily present. When you do this, talk fast and have the ability to state statistics and facts like its nobodies business, it’s very easy to get people who already want to agree with you, agree with you way more. Shapiro is usually presented with pretty subpar debate opponents, which helps support the argument that leftists are dumb and they seldom put up a good fight (sadly)."
I will note that many of the people who try to argue with him in his public lectures are extremely subpar. He has never said that this promotes the argument that lefties are "dumb" (I know you aren't saying he is; just stating it for clarity). His manner of speaking does promote agreement in those watching (as the kids will say #REKT). However, he doesn't misconstrue the people's arguments. He often restates them and asks if that's what they mean and almost always he is rightly saying what they think by their own confession. So I'd heavily disagree that he strawmans people's arguments.
Ben is a moral objectivist. By the very nature of his outlook some things will be better than others.
"... Shapiro frequently states that capitalism and the traditional Western/American way of life (family patriarchy, nuclear family etc) are the best way to live. He doesn’t believe in premarital sex and abortion for religious reasons, he refuses to refer to people by their preferred pronouns and has referred to transgender individuals as mentally ill and suffering from gender dysphoria ..."
I've personally never heard Shapiro say that having a father lead a house or having a nuclear family be best, but I have heard him speak highly of capitalism. If you compare the rest of the World to the USA they are morally inferior in many ways. they might be better in something like education, but that's not his point. Shapiro is stating that the USA is the freest country there is and we should be proud of it. That's why we are the Land of Opportunity and the Golden Nation. The moral cornerstones of the USA are those of fundamental human rights. Most other nations are not, they are founded upon fiscally freedoms.
As for the sex and abortions part that actually completely false. Here's a direct Shapiro quote from a Rubin Report: "I never make religious arguments for my morals. I always use secular reasoning." I can attest and say that he has abided by this quote in all the videos I've seen or watched (that's a good amount #fanboy).
Once again you fail to understand his argument on pronouns. His argument is very much like Peterson's. He is okay with being asked to call someone something, he is not okay with being forced to say it. He usually opts to call someone by their legal name and make the pronoun entirely irrelevant (thus making the whole debacle disappear). As for Shapiro's stance on transgenderism I'm still figuring out my stance so I'll just let you have that one as he has called it an illness.
"Shapiro frequently asks people to be tolerant of his political views, but has an air of intolerance in regards to other people’s beliefs and lifestyles."
Shapiro teaches/promotes morally justified tolerance. He does not approve of tolerating the intolerant just as most people think/do. After everything he has said and I have defended I would hardly call him an intolerant person. If he was intolerant he wouldn't even debate the other side. He'd simply call them idiots and ban them.
"Shapiro believes that anything too far from what he morally finds right, is wrong. His logic is sound here, but in practice a lot of people can be neglected and mistreated (ie. the LGTBQ community and Muslims).
I think Ben Shapiro is really smart, but I believe that the data he presents in his arguments is meticulously picked to prove his point and that he has a very strong bias (expected). I don’t take him to be an impartial opinion and I think he’s just as bad at giving impartial facts as mainstream media. I also don’t spend any more time watching him since this experiment because his opinions and arguments can be extremely hurtful to certain groups."
I'm not going to repeat my sentiments about the first paragraph as I've already disproved them.
Shapiro has publicly stated that he actively works to remove conformation bias from his outlooks and I believe it shows. He's become vastly more Libertarian over the years and uses both sides to fight for what he believes in.
"... his opinions and arguments can be extremely hurtful to certain groups."
Facts don't care about your feelings.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 5, 2016
An opinion is not harmful. I'd say out of everything else in this whole article this is probably the stupidest thing said. When someone outright calls for immoralities then it's hurtful. Expressing a sound, secular moral outlook is not harmful in anyway. Shapiro criticizes people where it's due. If you can't give him that you really didn't listen to anything. #SHAPIRO2020