Of all the myths killed so far, this one admittedly requires the finest of cuts, a scalpel instead of an axe.
Ben Shapiro is not a master of the art of debate. Ben Shapiro is a Defense Attorney who has mastered the art of being mentored by people who are masters of media. They are the ones who give Ben Shapiro his talking points and critique his arguments. They are the ones who tell him what to argue and when.
It only takes a little googling to learn that two billionaire fracking tycoons / evangelical preachers from Rising Star, Texas have pretty much subsidized his entire career. This happened a mere two years after Andrew Breitbart, a wealthy, avowed fascist, got ahold of him fresh out of school and scrubbed his brain clean of ideological independence.
No, Ben does exactly what he’s told by the Oil and Christianity Industries. For all of his scholastic ability, Ben is pretty much just along for the ride.
Ben only debates with young college students. As a Harvard Law School Graduate specializing in corporate legal defense, his exercise is akin to a fledgling boxer showing up to a Day Care Center and beating the shit out of all of the kids – then claiming he’s the heavy-weight champion of the world.
It’s really sad to watch. And not because the college students always lose. It’s sad because you can really tell that Ben thinks he’s brilliant for having won a debate against them. His website and YouTube Channel shovel this impression up in ample supply: “Ben Shapiro DESTROYS The Libs” and “Ben Shapiro OWNS Another Leftist”.
He did graduate from Harvard Law School, which requires serious hard work and above-average intelligence. But, again, we’re not discussing whether or not Ben is intelligent. We’re discussing his debate skills specifically.
Again, a scalpel instead of an axe.
Rather than pursue his subjects at the top of his intelligence, what Ben provides is an unending series of logical fallacies and snuck premises, looped over and over again throughout his conversations. Once someone points out these fallacies live, in living color, Ben’s sleight-of-hand magic show becomes much less entertaining, much more depressing and boring.
The glue that holds these conclusions together is an unrepentant layering of Confirmation Bias, a smack-dab application of data and statistics to craft a version of history wholly unique to Ben’s masters’ worldview. Once this bonding agent hardens, the False Dichotomies and Straw Man arguments appear as true and permanent as any national monument – though this architecture of lies is nothing more than paper mache.
And that’s it. It seldom gets any more complex than that. That is Ben’s entire professional existence. That is what Ben gets paid to do.
He talks fast and he pushes and pushes and pushes his side of the story, fallacies flying by at break-neck speed, not because he is a philosopher or forensic savant. He pushes these things because he’s a Defense Attorney. And that’s what Defense Attorney’s do: they argue for guilty clients to get the best possible deal. So, if the clientele is morally bankrupt, if the ideas are morally grotesque, rest assured Ben is there to save the day for them.
The only problem is, of course, that Ben never really goes to “trial”. There’s never a prosecuting attorney to counter his argument. Though we’ve seen Ben shuffle around talking points provided by billionaire fracking tycoons, we have yet to see Ben actually, genuinely debate anyone. We certainly haven’t seen him debate anyone who’s actually in it to find out what is true in the world. Sam Harris was an okay example but, again, this was a carefully staged event, designed more to show how polite and tolerant the two men can be than to expose any harsh truths.
And if you’re a person completely unfamiliar with formal logic, by the time he’s done talking you might find yourself thinking that perhaps the infant victim of a murder was actually the malicious oppressor and that the killing was in self-defense.
Did I mention Confirmation Bias, False Dichotomies, and Strawn Man arguments? Again, that’s the entire gig.
I could provide a seemingly endless cavalcade of examples where Ben Shapiro engages in this sort of buffoonery and, if I thought it was worth your time to go in depth about it, I would. Instead, I’ll cut to the chase and give you the ultimate cringe-inducing display of Ben’s “Paper Tiger” existence: Shapiro’s interview on the BBC with Andrew Neil earlier this year.
Neil, who is one of the most notoriously Conservative interviewers on the BBC, asked Shapiro a series of relatively straightforward, harmless questions. They were not “soft ball” questions, but they were also not the kind of thing an average human couldn’t handle without a modicum of candor and poise.
Shapiro couldn’t and didn’t do that. He folded like a napkin at the bottom of a fast food bag, almost instantaneously accusing Neil of being a “Flaming Liberal”. Neil simply laughed and said “I don’t think you know of what you speak” to which Shapiro replied “Well, I’ve never heard of you” and continued to accuse him of pushing a Liberal agenda and being a hardcore Leftist.
And that was it. The wreckage of Shapiro’s credibility could not have been clearer and what little support he could’ve mustered for his arguments was discarded along with the rest of the refuse of his pre-owned mind.
He is intelligent. But the guy cannot debate. He sounds like he can debate. But he cannot debate. He can’t outmatch anyone who offers even a minor oppositional perspective. Along with the Andrew Neil interview, there are scores of much more carefully curated, edited exchanges (again, his handlers hone his image with painstaking attention to detail), in which Shapiro appears to be much more in control, much more prepared. Yet, even in these well-packaged exchanges, the talking points have no real logical soundness. They sound better, they are more thoroughly reasoned, and yet they’re obviously false.
They’re false to the point of being ridiculous.
If Ben weren’t in the pocket of agenda-driven billionaires, he might actually be able to debate about things he really, truly believes in, things he’s thought about on his own. In a better universe, Ben is unburdened by the obligation of having to prove things true that are so demonstrably false.
But he doesn’t. Because he can’t. If he did, then he’d stop making so much money.
It is a genuine tragedy to see such a talented, intelligent man have to tap-dance for his masters like such a little baby-faced bitch. But that, unfortunately, is the kind of life Ben has chosen. Money over integrity, style over substance.
It must be horribly emasculating. It is certainly dehumanizing.
Ben knows the points he debates are ridiculous and cannot withstand even casual scrutiny. But that is not why he argues them so adamantly.
Again: he’s a Defense Attorney. Nothing more, nothing less.
It doesn’t matter if the conclusions are sound or not. Though they’re “guilty” of being false, Shapiro has been hired by powerful people to create a reasonable doubt in our minds as to their falsehood, to trick the jury of public opinion into believing they are “innocent” and true.
Keep cashing those checks, Ben. We all know what prostitution looks like.
Just because you made a couple of million dollars from it only means you were willing to negotiate the price.