When I first ran across Ben Shapiro and his DailyWire website, he seemed pretty intelligent. While I may not agree with many of his positions, they seemed at least reasonable and within the bounds of reality. But as his popularity’s grown, it’s interesting watching him slide towards outlandish, extremist language and logic to keep up the media spotlight. This is a lesson for media both left and right.
Take for instance his YouTube video about gender identity. Sure, he’s conflating the difference between sex and gender among other things but that’s a common mistake lots of people make. Just because someone gets something wrong doesn’t make a conversation crazy. That’s the point of discussions, to bring together and hash out differing opinions and viewpoints.
But how do you follow up viral videos like that? Use it as a vehicle for more serious conversations? Or ramp up the shock factor with more outlandish logic and language? Shapiro’s chosen the latter.
In his latest opinion piece, Shapiro rails against the Supreme Court for not hearing a case about homelessness which means that being homeless isn’t a crime and therefore cities can’t ticket people for sleeping in public.
First off, ticketing the homeless is kind of pointless because if they had the money to pay fines, they probably wouldn’t be sleeping on the street in the first place. And good luck, trying to track down unpaid fines because again, by definition, they don’t have a home.
Despite this, you can definitely make a reasoned argument that cities need to be able to regulate situations that affect health, crime, and other matters of public interest.
But this is not what Shapiro does. Even after acknowledging that homelessness is typically rooted in mental illness and addiction, he offers outlandish logic by saying that homelessness “is an activity.” And that “the carrot of housing must be accompanied by the stick of law enforcement.”
In other words, he’s saying that people are homeless because we’re not punishing them enough. That life on the street is apparently too easy. And if we made life even more difficult, they’d somehow realize that they need to make better life choices. It would be difficult to make a less reality-grounded basis for a position.
Homelessness is caused by the combined with some underlying condition (most often mental illness) and the lack of social support. For instance, nearly 10% of homeless are vets. Often suffering from PTSD and addiction.
Because Shapiro’s logic is so weak, he covers it up with the most shock-jock, inflammatory language in an attempt to get readers so enraged that they won’t pay any attention to his weak, fallacious logic. He uses terms like repository of stupidity, brutality, twisted, degradation, and festering.
When he has to rely on language and logic like this, it’s clear that his intent is shock value to maintain the fickle media spotlight and nothing else. It illustrates how intelligent men can devolve into enraged clowns and should be a lesson for media on both sides of the political spectrum.