Recently, there was a rather fascinating debate which occurred on a show hosted by Dr. Drew. The subject was the ESPY sports awards, and Caitlynn (formerly Bruce) Jenner’s ‘bravery’ award. The panel featured Samantha Schaer from The Young Turk network’s Pop Trigger show, transgender reporter Zoey Tur, and Breitbart.com senior editor Ben Shapiro. Watch the exchange below:
Right away, Shapiro was dismissive of Jenner receiving the award. “Ben, does she deserve this award?”, was Dr. Drew’s first question. “For what?”, replied Shapiro. For bravery, explained Dr. Drew, and Shapiro proceeded to dismiss Caitlynn Jenner as no braver than his 18 month old baby.
It only got worse from there. As the other panelists attempted to put forth vaguely nuanced arguments, Shapiro said we should not reward “delusion”. That, biologically Caitlynn Jenner is a man. That Jenner has a “mental illness”.
At a certain point, Zoey Tur had had enough, and grabbed him by the shoulder. “You cut that out now, or you’ll go home in an ambulance”, she said.
“Well that seems vaguely inappropriate for a political discussion”, replied Shapiro.
Agreed. As moronic, insulting, hypocritical and ignorant as Shapiro was during this discussion, threatening to hospitalise someone is inappropriate.
Later, Shapiro pointedly and derisively referred to Zoey as a ‘sir’, and continued to push his point that transgendered people are mentally ill, that society should not be expected to treat delusion as fact.
The panel was shocked by his sheer lack of human empathy, and a panelist pointed out Shapiro is a Jew and should have empathy for the suffering of others.
Instead, Shapiro chided them for comparing the suffering of transgendered people to Jews.
Ben Shapiro was born in 1984, the same year as myself, and as of this writing, could be said to represent a new generation of neo-Reaganite conservatism, of the kind the right sorely needs if it’s hawkish and exclusionary traditions are to continue.
Watch this remarkable video of a young Shapiro playing the theme from ‘Schindler’s List’ on violin (not pertinent, just interesting).
(Note: his grimace at 2:58 when he flubs a note, indicating intense concentration)
I couldn’t find a whole lot of information on Ben Shapiro’s background, so I’ll be going with a few assumptions. I’m going to assume, a. he’s never served in the military. b. he had a safe and prosperous upbringing. c. he identifies strongly with bring Jewish.
All of these assumptions are relevant to a critique of his behaviour for the following reasons.
Ben Shapiro has never served in the military, despite being around service age and able bodied, and yet here he is advocating for the Iraq war: Why War In Iraq Is Right For America.
He has even complained about being labelled a “chickenhawk”, arguing one doesn’t have to partake in something to critique it, something one can apply to many things, but isn’t it convenient to use this to argue for other people to go fight?
This standard is difficult to apply to other freedom of choice issues, like smoking weed, gay marriage, or abortion. I’m merely making these things available to others, not compelling them to partake. Perhaps we could get more nuanced on taxes.
But would I have the gall to tell other people to fight in a war that was horribly conceived and awfully executed?
I would not have the credibility to assert that, but the arrogant chickenhawk Ben Shapiro believes he does.
In the transgender debate, not only does Shapiro believe he can advocate other people go die in a war he can’t or won’t fight, and later complain he’s just exercising his “freedom” (to be a hypocritical coward), he’s insistent that other people be labelled by their “biological” pronoun, not by their self-identifying pronoun of choice.
Is this “pro-freedom”? To be told what you are and have to be against your wishes.
Throughout the debate Shapiro is unaware how emphasising ‘biology’ over ‘identity’ is insulting on purely social and contextual grounds. It would be as if everywhere Shapiro went, he was referred to as “Jew”.
He is indeed a Jew, but would he need this constant reminder, everywhere he went?
Ben: “hello there”
Someone: “hi Jew”
Ben: “umm. Yes. I am a Jew”
Someone: “right. Want something to eat, Jew?”
Ben: “I am a Jew, but do you have to keep referring to me that way?”
Someone: “yeah, but you are a Jew aren’t you? So what’s the problem, Jew?”
Ben: “uh I am a Jew but-”
Someone: “alright then, so what’ll it be to eat, Jew boy?”
Does anyone truly believe that Ben Shapiro would be perfectly fine being referred to in this manner, despite his ‘biology’ as a Jew?
No, I assume he wants to be referred to as ‘Ben’, and that’s his choice for an identity.
To not understand the egregious insult of referring to a transgendered person as the wrong gender pronoun, shows that Shapiro simply chooses to be an ass, out of lack of respect and soft bigotry.
Ben Shapiro (I’m assuming, who knows, maybe he came out of the mean streets) had a privileged, white American upbringing…one where he could be belittled for his (shitty) personality, but not his identity or sexual orientation (but I won’t speak to anti-semitism, who knows, he may have received some?).
Transgendered people, as Caitlynn Jenner has shown, may come from wealth and privilege, though for Jenner it was clearly earned. Just like a white Jewish person like Ben Shapiro may come from a place of privilege.
This says nothing but that there is something to be said for acknowledging privilege, and how that impacts the course of your life.
Shapiro has never had to deal with changing his identity to align with his true self, like Jenner has. Luckily for Jenner, success and wealth might soften the blow an unknown person in a small town might feel, but could also be amplified by exposure from celebrity.
But Jenner has handled it well.
In the panel, Shapiro snottily dismisses any notion of his own privileged position, and doesn’t bother attacking Jenner on her own privilege, instead dismissing all transgender people as mentally ill.
This comes from one of the least credible and disgustingly privileged brats imaginable (or as Zoey puts it, a ‘little boy’), who has no earthly concept of what a transgendered person could possibly be going through.
The final point. I am unaware of Ben Shapiro’s family history, but he is Jewish. I don’t know if members of his family were victims in the holocaust, or his relationship to Israel.
But I do know he supports the right-wing policies of Benjamin Netanyahu, that see fit to deny Palestinians their liberty and remove all context from their humanity, lumping them together with Hamas and Hezbollah and advocating endless occupation, persecuting them and never questioning whether they are adding to their radicalisation.
This is pertinent, because one might expect of Ben Shapiro, and indeed many members of the world’s only Jewish state, to believe that a shared sense of humanity and the right to self-determination is a solution to violence and terrorism the world over.
Instead Palestinians and transgendered individuals are offered no right to self-determination. Palestinians are deemed as inherently (or one might say, ‘biologically’) destined towards terrorism, and transgendered people are denied their own identity, relegated to what Shapiro deems ‘factual’.
Once upon a time Shapiro’s very ancestors and relatives were ‘factually’ deemed subhuman…’biologically’ inferior, and genetically expendable. They had no right to be who they wanted to be. Ben Shapiro dismisses this analogy out of hand.
One would have thought that Shapiro, a perpetual conservative victim and a proud American Jew might have figured out that tolerance is the real solution.
But of course, that’s asking too much.Here's my social media! Support and follow. 🙂