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Ben Shapiro DESTROYS Ben Shapiro (While Trying to WRECK Jon Stewart)
One of the most popular voices of the Right gets it mostly Wrong.
Ben Shapiro is exactly what’s wrong with public discourse. Let’s start with my title, which is a take on typical titles on Shapiro’s YouTube channel (the capitalization is his): “Ben Shapiro DESTROYS Transgenderism and Pro-Abortion Arguments,” “Ben Shapiro DESTROYS Megan Rapinoe and the Gender Pay Gap,” “Shapiro WRECKS Jon Stewart’s UNHINGED Anti-White Rant,” “Shapiro WRECKS Washington Post Cry-Bully Who DOXXED Libs of TikTok,” and on and on.
The aggressive nature of those titles don’t suggest someone looking to have an open examination of ideas, but someone angrily hunting prey to kill, gut, and cook. And then stand over the gnawed bones pounding his chest in victory. Ben Shapiro DESTROYS rabbit!! (And then WRECKS it into stew!)
It’s an unintentionally funny carnival sideshow: See Wild Man froth and stamp and scold. Fun for the whole family.
Why It Matters
Why does it matter? Because The Ben Shapiro Show on YouTube has 4.55 million subscribers with well over a billion video views, 4.3 million Twitter followers, and 2.3 million Instagram followers, and his editorial outlet (I just can’t call it “news” because it is so editorially slanted) The Daily Wire has 600,000 subscribers. That means Shapiro has reach and influence.
If only he used his powers for good. I mean other than the good of his bank account.
Shapiro might be worse than the clown car of conservative commentators that include intellectual lightweights like Steven Crowder, Dennis Prager, and Jordan B. Peterson because his audience is not only massive (as is theirs), but because it includes people who are sincerely looking for answers. Unfortunately, he gives the appearance of rationality without actually being rational. His branding is that he destroys people “with facts and logic”—but it’s really more “faux and lipservice.”
What makes his sideshow sad is that Shapiro is articulate, educated, and knowledgeable—he’s just unwilling or unable to utilize basic logic. His recent attempt to take down Jon Stewart exemplifies his bubbling witches brew of style over substance. Generally, he begins his opinion pieces with personal attacks and name-calling (ad hominem for logicians keeping score). His intro to the Stewart video is “Our cultural elite, they hate you. They really, really hate you.” He uses a trigger phrase—“cultural elite”—to prejudice the audience before they’ve even begun. By the way, how are they “elite” when it’s Shapiro, Crowder, and Fox who have the larger audiences (Stewart only has 1.3 million Twitter followers), thereby having greater influence on the culture? Shapiro is making his own movies and intends to challenge Disney in making children’s content. Wouldn’t “cultural elite” be defined as a small group of self-appointed arbiters of what is culturally acceptable? That surely makes Shapiro a “cultural elite.”
So, Shapiro calling out the “cultural elite” is like Al Capone shaming you for shoplifting.
Heavy stuff, right? But this is what I do, and I hope it’s what you signed up for. If you like what I’m cooking in my Substack Kitchen, then please: Subscribe. Share. Like. Comment.
Radicals and the Elderly Are the Real Enemies
Many of the episodes I watched begin with some reference to the “radical left,” even though the position he’s attempting to destroy is often held by moderate liberals and is hardly radical. But he instantly machine guns the audience with the word radical over and over until that is the only position. “Be afraid,” he’s pretend-warning. “The radicals want your jobs, TV shows, and children. And I don’t like the way they’re eyeing your dog.”
Editorials use hyperbole to make their points and to be entertaining—that’s to be expected, even encouraged—but there are clear boundaries. It’s the difference between the ragtime piano player entertaining the patrons in an Old West saloon—and the drunken lout rousing them to lynch the accused cattle rustler in the jail. (That was hyperbole.)
Shapiro especially likes to zero in on his victim’s age as a way of dismissing their points. I’m not sure if this is just a blatant marketing ploy to appeal to a younger audience (Shapiro is 38) in order to entice them to subscribe, or if he just hates old people. His Stewart video refers to Stewart as an “old man” three times in about a minute. This isn’t the first time he’s tried to poison the well with ageist taunts. When Neil Young and Joni Mitchell protested Joe Rogan spreading dangerous misinformation about COVID-19, Shapiro began his video by calling them “has-been 1960s rockers” and later refers to them again as “aging rockers.” True, I’m an aging, has-been basketball player, but that has no bearing on the validity of my opinions, which should be judged based on my evidence for those opinions. I wonder, if Shapiro ever needed open-heart surgery and everyone told him the best doctor in the world is in in her sixties, would he say, “Nah, get me someone in their thirties?”
Watching a Ben Shapiro video is extremely frustrating for anyone who has even a high school awareness of logical fallacies. But he counts on his audience not to use critical thinking, and instead to merely be persuaded by the fast-talking damn-burst of words sprinkled with a few facts, statistics, and studies. The problem is that his support is often either not to the point, misleadingly incomplete, not in context, or woefully inadequate. In one of his videos he discusses transgenderism with Neil Degrasse and brings up as evidence a study supporting the theory of rapid-onset gender dysphoria. The problem is that he uses it despite knowing the study has been widely discredited for its methodology. The diagnosis has been rejected by the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association and other medical organizations due to lack of evidence. He knows his followers will just trust his word, which is disrespectful of him.
As for his famous “facts don’t care about your feelings” mantra: His facts are usually very selective and out of context, then run through the blender of his “logic,” which is like using M&Ms to describe how all candy tastes. “These are M&Ms! The dictionary defines M&Ms as candy! Ergo, all candy tastes like M&Ms. You are DESTROYED!”
Uh, what now?
If Shapiro was so devoted to logic, why not bring a couple logicians in to beep every time he makes a logical fallacy? Because it would sound like a cacophony of blaring horns in a Manhattan traffic jam.
[Here’s someone addressing Shapiro’s logical fallacies.]
Shapiro Is Focused on Jacking Up Business More Than Bettering Society
Generally, Shapiro does not like to get into debates or even discussions with people more knowledgeable or logical than he is because the few times he has, it’s gone terribly wrong. In a discussion of religion and morality with the brilliant Sam Harris, neuroscientist and philosopher (and calmest guy in the world), Harris is constantly course-correcting Shapiro’s misunderstandings and misstatements. Shapiro comes across as the promising but ill-prepared student to a highly respected professor. That’s why he generally sticks to debating college kids.
Whenever he’s overmatched like this, and it happens often, Shapiro employs an authority-signaling technique. He begins name-dropping books, authors, philosophers, and historical events that are only vaguely related to the question, but make it look like he’s very knowledgeable therefore not truly wrong (just resting his brain).
Another familiar Shapiro technique involves the old schoolyard retort: “I know you are but what am I?” Someone calls you a booger-eater, you smugly reply: “I know you are but what am I?” Logical genius! He has been routinely accused of pandering, with no concern for the truth, just to get subscribers. A social media grifter. So, he responds by accusing liberal pundits of the same thing, often calling them grifters.
Having this Substack newsletter that depends on paid subscribers makes me very aware of the commerce-vs.-conscience debate that one must face. Shapiro has built an empire that requires a large influx of money to support it. As the history of capitalism has proven, the more money you need, the more the lines become blurred between doing good and doing business.
How do you then insure more subscribers? A recent Yale study shows that the best way to get “likes” and “shares” is through Moral Outrage. This observation is supported by Eric Schmidt, the former Google CEO and Alphabet chairman, who said, “Corporations, at least in social media land, are optimizing, maximizing revenue. You maximize revenue, you maximize engagement. To maximize engagement, you maximize outrage.”
Outrage equals money. I say this as someone who has expressed moral outrage a few times. My outrage is born from the injustice that is evident in America, a country that I love and want to to do better. But I have never attempted to stoke people’s fears and anger to gain subscribers. I’m content in my small space, and if it went away tomorrow, so be it. I know some of my subscribers like Shapiro, so I risk losing them by writing this. But where is the morality to cynically stoke people’s rage while picking their pockets?
The stench of Communist-witch hunter Sen. Joseph McCarthy shrouds Shapiro. His is a culture war that makes purring sounds about accepting all people, but really tries to paint a nostalgic stage backdrop of the smalltown midwest of the 1950s. His podcasts add up to saying: “We don’t hate people for who they are, but if we ignore the marginalization, prejudice, and loss of rights they experience, maybe they’ll shut up and go away. And the best part, all our entitlements stay intact.”
Maybe this is a good time for Shapiro to really embrace the question, “I know you are, but what am I?”