So a comedian talks to a journalist and wonders what’s the deal with political correctness.
“That’s not funny!” screams the politically correct as they demand the comic keep his thoughts to himself.
The lack of tolerance here serves as the punchline.
When Jerry Seinfeld told an ESPN reporter last week that he’s troubled by how insufferably PC college campuses have become, it seemed like he was stating a matter of fact.
“I don’t play colleges, but I hear a lot of people tell me, ‘Don’t go near colleges. They’re so PC.’”
“They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist;’ ‘That’s sexist;’ ‘That’s prejudice.’ They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.”
Later in an appearance on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” the comedy legend said the whole ideology creeped him out.
To anyone who has heard of a “safe space” and is aware of the treatment that right-leaning speakers and groups face at a modern university, Seinfeld’s comments state something so obvious that he might as well have followed up with, “Did you know the sky is blue?” (RELATED: Liberal Students Are Terrifying Their Own Professors)
But for such a basic observation, the response from left-wing outlets bordered on near frenzy, proving that progressives might live in a Bizarro World free of self-awareness.
Salon took time away from counting every injustice the Duggars have committed against mankind to devote all of its hatred against Seinfeld. The Huffington Post published a letter from a politically-correct college student lecturing the famous comedian on what it takes to make “provocative” humor. The prolific Amanda Marcotte claimed that the comic was just looking for an excuse to make up for being a “second-rate hack.”
Clearly, the underlying presumption of all the outrage is that Jerry needs to start kowtowing to the standards of political correctness.
The best articulated statement of this belief is found (surprise!) in the college student’s letter.
Anthony Berteaux argues that college students — while being more “sensitive to issues of race and gender politics” — still love offensive humor. They just demand that it have a progressive message.
Berteaux cites an Amy Schumer sketch that plays up the supposed idea that young high school and college men are raping women left and right (even though the data paints a different picture). The joke is designed to convey that this is a real problem and men need to be shamed for it — a popular notion on the left and in line with the rape culture narrative.
The young student also upholds a Louis C.K. stand-up bit that illustrates the concept of white privilege as a model for how provocative comedy should work.
To recap, comedy can be offensive as long as it pushes false statistics about rape and white privilege shaming. While Berteaux instructs Seinfeld and other comics to “offend the fuck out of college students,” what he’s really saying is that comics should reinforce progressive notions with dick jokes.
The student’s main point is that comedy should have an “underlying message,” but it’s clear that that message has to come from a left-wing perspective. Which, crazily enough, exactly confirms Seinfeld’s beef with politically correct students.
They only want comedy that confirms their own biases. They don’t want to hear jokes that could be conservative in nature or actually offend the fuck out of them. As we all know, college kids these days could be traumatized for life if they get offended.
The comedy — and culture in general — that Berteaux wants is one suitable for a safe space. That sounds awfully unprovocative.
Comedy, like all art forms, requires freedom on the part of performers to express themselves. The limits imposed on comedians if they come before a campus audience restricts them in what they can say and bowdlerizes their material. It’s essentially censorship. If you care about your craft and you know that it would offend the precious ears of the stereotypical collegian, wouldn’t you follow the lead of Seinfeld and Chris Rock and say no to university crowds?
One of Seinfeld’s critics, Dean Obeidallah, did concede that students today are too sensitive, but insisted that it is right for them to demand comedy that conforms to their sensibilities.
Colleges are supposed to be places where the marketplace of ideas can flourish and young minds can come in contact with a host of different ideas and a myriad viewpoints. Instead, the modern university has turned into an incubator of New Puritanism — with all the ideological dogmatism and enforced conformity that comes with it. (RELATED: The Puritans Behind Jennerpalooza)
This mindset does not carry over well into the real world. That’s why it do a world of good for kids these days to expose themselves to viewpoints that genuinely offend them.
At the least, they could get the message that not everyone thinks like an Amy Schumer-loving, Salon-reading, patriarchy-protesting college student.