U of M threatened with lawsuit over venue for conservative Ben Shapiro's lecture

Ben Shapiro is due to speak before students on Monday.

What's happening?

Notable conservative editor and talking head Ben Shapiro is giving a lecture at the University of Minnesota on Monday.

Only now, the U of M is facing a lawsuit over it.

Those damn students trying to prevent free speech?

No actually, the lawsuit threat is coming from the group funding and arranging Shapiro's talking tour – the Young America's Foundation (YAF).

In a letter issued on Tuesday, it argues that Shapiro is being relegated to the U's "cow campus" in St. Paul, as he's scheduled to appear at the 400-seat St. Paul Student Center. The event is sold out.

Students for a Conservative Voice (SCV) at the U of M originally requested use of the Ted Mann Concert Hall, which has a capacity of 1,126, for Shapiro's lecture.

When that wasn't available, they asked for the 800-seat Willey Hall, only to be denied because it has access to the skyway, which presented security concerns.

"From that point forward the University only offered the Students for a Conservative Voice space on the St. Paul campus, which bares the nickname 'cow campus' because of its remoteness," the YAF letter says.

The YAF says the U of M has given amid threats of protests to Shapiro's appearance, employing a "heckler's veto" that it argues is "trampling the rights of individual students to appease the demands of the intolerant majority."

The U of M told the Star Tribune that conservative students at the U "fully participated" in selecting the St. Paul Student Center and "voiced no protest" to its police department or Office of Student Affairs when it was chosen.

Prior to Shapiro's appearance, the U of M Women's Center is sponsoring a counter-event on "white supremacy in the age of Trump," Campus Reform notes, which the YAF says was a further snub to Shapiro.

Who is Ben Shapiro?

The 34-year-old conservative commentator is currently the editor of the conservative news and opinion website The Daily Wire.

Prior to this, he was the editor-at-large at controversial conservative site Breitbart, which he left not long after revealing himself to be a #NeverTrump supporter, having backed Ted Cruz during the Republican primaries.

NYMag reports that the final straw cames when Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields was grabbed by Trump's chief of staff Corey Lewandowski during a campaign event, with Shapiro resigning in protest with Fields and criticized the direction the website was heading under Steve Bannon.

Shapiro is also the author of multiple books espousing his right-wing beliefs, including "Porn Generation: How Social Liberalism Is Corrupting Our Future," "The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against the Obama Administration," and the aptly titled "Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth." 

The UCLA and Harvard Law graduate became the youngest nationally syndicated columnist when he was hired by Creators Syndicate at the age of 17.

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