On Monday night, a small group of UF students carried signs and yelled into megaphones in protest of Ben Shapiro’s appearance on campus. Remarkably outnumbered by students waiting in a snaking line to see the controversial conservative talking head, the protesters stood in the name of morality, for the sake of letting UF know that they wouldn’t stand for Shapiro’s anti-LGBTQ+ stances.
We can respect that.
But tonight, a long line of equally eager fans will go unchallenged, as rap star Lil Wayne comes to the O’Connell Center for a concert. Keep in mind that much of Lil Wayne’s discography includes insensitive remarks regarding homosexuals, the transgender community and women as an entire population.
While we at the Alligator respect the right to peacefully assemble on campus, especially when student dollars are being used, there is, very clearly, a double standard present here. And it’s baffling.
Don’t get us wrong, quite a few of us at the office are fans of rap music and of Lil Wayne, but it is curious that the very same students protesting Shapiro, the former Breitbart news editor, have yet to organize anything against Lil Wayne, who has spewed hundreds of misogynistic, crass and at-times homophobic and transphobic lines over his decades-long career.
Do we forget about those lyrics, masked by the bass in his songs or the catchy cadences? Or do we simply not care enough?
This is a Lil Wayne line, from the 2008 song “Go DJ”: “You homo n----- / Getting AIDS in the a-- / While the homie here / Trying to get paid in advance.”
Here is another, from the 2010 song “Right Above It”: “Guns turn you boys into p------/ (like a) Sex change.”
In a 2016 interview with ABC’s Linsey Davis, the rapper is asked, “What do you say to people who call your music vulgar, misogynistic, offensive, degrading?”
“If that’s what you think about the music, if that’s what you categorize it under, then so be it,” Lil Wayne replied. “All those things made me who I am, and I’m a very successful man.”
Davis then asked him about Black Lives Matter, a nationwide activist movement popularized in the wake of high-profile shootings of black men by police.
Wayne’s response was apalling.
“I am a young black rich motherf-----. If that don’t let you know that America understands black (expletive) matter these days, I don’t know what it is. Don’t come at me with that dumb s---, ma’am. My life matter, especially to my b----.”
Is he connected to the plight of the movement’s followers?
“I don’t feel connected to a damn thing that ain’t got nothing to do with me. If you do, you crazy as s---. I’m connected to this flag right (expletive) here, because I’m connected. I’m a gangbanger now.”
This man is being paid $125,000 to perform at UF.
Shapiro, on the other hand, was paid just $20,000.
This isn’t to say Shapiro is a saint. In 2015, during a panel on HLN, Shapiro misgendered Inside Edition reporter Zoey Tur, a transgender woman.
“What are your genetics, sir?” he asked, after saying transgender men and women must suffer from a mental disorder.
In no way are we calling for a protest against Lil Wayne. Hell, if we weren’t working, we’d probably shell a couple bucks to see him. But the point remains: How does it make sense to protest Shapiro and yet sit idly by as rappers like Lil Wayne come to our campus?
It’s clear that these two men don’t exemplify the morals and values UF promotes.
Why not protest them both?
Ben Shapiro, left, and Lil Wayne, right