Outspoken conservative Ben Shapiro says political correctness breeds insanity

The controversial radio host gives lectures in the name of free speech, but his comments on racism, LGBTQ issues and the so-called alt-right movement have made him a target for protestors.
8:56 | 10/20/17

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Transcript for Outspoken conservative Ben Shapiro says political correctness breeds insanity
have become an angry reflection of a divided country. On this night police and protesters out in force at the university of Utah. All because of this baby-faced 33-year-old father of two. Let's be real about this, look at me. I mean, do I look like a physical threat to anybody? Do I seem like a physical threat to anybody? Last time I was in a fight, I was 14 years old, two years younger than everybody else and getting my ass kicked. Reporter: Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief of the conservative "Daily wire" and host of a popular podcast downloaded millions of times a week. He's at the center of a nationwide debate about whether conservative voices are being stifle TD by protesters on American college campuses. Just today at the university of florida,ensions flaring. During an event featuring the white nationalist Richard Spencer. In February at the university of Berkeley, former Breitbart commentator milo yiannopoulos shut down after protesters threw rocks a and molotov cocktails. Last month when Ben Shapiro spoke at the university of Berkeley local authorities spent over $500,000 on security. It's amazing they had to essentially lock that place down for you. And the headlines were nuts. Headlines like, Berkeley braces for Shapiro visit. Really? Was I the one smashing atms? Reporter: Three hours before he's supposed to take the stage at 7:00 here in Utah, Shapiro says there are reports of possible violence. I'm hearing rumors there may be some people who try to bring weapons which would be ridiculous and awful. I don't want to be killed at my lectures. Reporter: A fellow conservative podcast host claims he captured this undercover individual video of self-described anti-fa members talking about knifes and their car where they allegedly had guns. He says this speaks to liberal hysteria on machine campuses. Your view is this is political correctness run amok? The furthest extension of political correctness. When you say something, it's not me disagreeing with you, it is me destroying your identity as a human being in a way that is akin to violence. Let me read from the statement that the folks who want did shut you down put out. Ben Shapiro has openly called transgender people mentally ill, betrays the great gay rights movement, a conspiracy to root out god-based institutions, recent recently defended conversion therapy -- There's a bunch of things that are not true. I'm not aware of any defending conversion therapy as effective, but I don't see evidence it is effective. I see gender dysphoria as a disorder. That's not an insult to people suffering psychological disorders. You are not doing service to people suffering from a mental disorder to humor them that their mental disorder is reflected in reality. Reporter: It is important to note the American psychological association does not define being transgender as mental illness. Gender dysphoria applies when a person suffers physical distress. It's a natural phenomenon, they're committin suicide because people are mistreatmenting them. I'm not for mistreatment but I don't think me suggesting you're not a woman is mistreatment of you. Reporter: Whether or not you agree with Shapiro, whether or not you think he's engaged in hate speech, here's little doubt his speech is protected by the first amendment. He won't let a jewish guy come to a campus and say what he wants to say, peer wooer in America respect that's ridiculous. Reporter: Professor David rigobi, who teaches a class onfully come of expression here, tells us many college students today do not understand that speech is protected unless it directly incites violence. This is a public institution. It's a government entity. They have to guarantee the free speech rights of everyone, including Shapiro. Reporter: We find the leader of that group that has vowed to shut tonight's event down who makes a startling admission. I don't think he should speak. But that couldn't doesn't comport with the first amendment. I don't care. You don't care? I don't care. Why not? I don't think that's a relevant document right now. Reporter: The constitution is not a relevant document? This thinking may help explain the increasingly violent protests against conservative speakers on campus. By shortly after 7:00 P.M. Here at the university of Utah, Ben Shapiro is backstage ready to go on after his security team sneaked him into the building. One irony is that while he's hated by many on the left, he's also hated by the self-described alt-right. I've been very, very outspoken against the alt-right, I've said the alt-right is a garbage movement composed of garbage ideas that has nothing to do with constitutional conservatism. Reporter: Shapiro fiercely critical of Donald Trump. He publicly quit his last job at Breitbart news when a female colleague was allegedly manhandled by trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and Shapiro thought Breitbart failed to have her back. I quit under very public circumstances. Because Breitbart had been turning itself into a trump propaganda arm and the alt-right for then candidate trump. What kind of blowback have you received? Aside from the 7,400-odd anti-semitic tweets I received, death threats in the mail, death threats on my phone -- Reporter: Which is why Shapiro finds it hard to believe protesters call him a white supremacist. Shapiro go to hell! That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. I keep hearing this. Wondering, was the yarmulke that gave it away? Reporter: He's interested in politics for as long as he can remember. I found a paper at 10 or 11 talking about the Clinton impeachment. Reporter: Shapiro went on to start his nationally syndicated column at age 17. His parents had to sign the contract for him. He graduated UCLA at age 20, put out two books by age 21, and graduated Harvard law at age 23. As Shapiro takes the stage in Utah, it immediately becomes clear that all of his time on elite campuses apparently did little to temper his conservative views. In particular what he calls America's culture of victimization. On stage he inserts himself into some of the most heated debates in our divided country. From police shootings to the NFL kneeling controversy. Is racism real? Yeah, of course racism is real. But I don't think institutional racism is necessarily real. So yes, of course there are racists. Racist cops who shoot black guys for no reason should go to jail and throw away the key. But this idea put out there by broad statements about America being discriminatory, racist country, I don't know how that helps anything. I don't think it's actually true. Isn't that to ignore our history? It's inarguable that slavery existed, and after that Jim crow. You want to talk about Jim crow and slavery, of course. The question is what is the remedy now? To blame people who are living today who had nothing to do with Jim crow and slavery? I didn't hold slays, did you? Reporter: As Shapiro holds forth inside the lecture hall, outside scuffles break out in the crowd. The hierarchy of victimhood goes if you're lgbt and Q, we suggest you are at the very top of the victimhood hierarchy. Then black folks. Then hispanic folks. Then women. Then Jews. Then Asians. And then way down at the bottom, white straight males. Does it ever strike you as somewhat off to be in a room kind of making light of victim culture and having this kind of hearty laughter, looking around and seeing the vast majority of the faces are white? No, because I said the exact same thing in front of faces that are not white. I know, but it's not that you change your message, just that it seems to resonate mostly with white people. I don't think that that's true. I think that -- I wish I were invited to more crowds that were more racially diverse that would be great. Reporter: No one got hurt but two protesters got arrested. Even as a man caught in the white hot center of the madness that is American politics today, he says he is optimistic. We're at such a divided and venomous time in this country, you're in the middle of it, do you have any optimism it will get better any time soon? Yeah, I think there's going to be a backlash. There's going to be a strong backlash for people who are tired of it. And want to stand up for basic rights that we can all agree on. Reporter: For "Nightline," this is Dan Harris in Salt Lake City, Utah.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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