SJWs flex their power by being “offended” when they hear comedians. I’m seldom offended by the content, but I’m always offended by the lack of humor.
Last night, I had some down time (a short commodity today) and I watched a movie that came out in 2015, but is still quite pertinent. It’s called Can We Take A Joke?, and focuses on the fact that audiences today, especially on college campuses, object to comedians on the ground that the comedians offend their delicate sensibilities. The movie, which interviews comics such as Adam Carolla, Gilbert Gottfried, Penn Jillette, Lisa Lampanelli, and Jim Nortan, and free speech advocates such as Greg Lukianoff (of FIRE) and Jonathan Rauch, a Progressive who apparently believes in free speech, is a joint project of Reason and FIRE.
Over and over, the comics interviewed (including some as-yet-unknown college age comics) make the point that it’s their job to push the limits, a job that came into being with Lenny Bruce. And over and over, they point out that people, despite knowing that a comic today will be crude or push buttons, start screaming “I’m offended.”
What’s funny in an ironic way about all the comics interviewed is that they are most funny — and most effective — when they are simply talking to the camera about their job, about free speech, and about censorship that comes, not from the government, but from society itself. As Rauch and Nortan both point out, even if speech is ostensibly free because the government doesn’t quash it, it’s not free if societal norms are so narrow nothing can be said anyway. As one of the comics said, and many others have said before, this situation means that speech in America is only as free as the most sensitive, easily offended person in any room, any state, or any nation. Charlie Hebdo, anyone?
My issue with all the comics is that I don’t think they’re funny. Merely saying the “f” word repeatedly or the “c” word repeatedly doesn’t make me laugh. Lenny Bruce at least worked the obscenities into larger, rather intelligent jokes. These comics, when they’re not talking intelligently to the camera (or, in Penn Jillette’s case doing the most amazing magic in family friendly shows that help showcase constitutional rights), tend to be as in love with dirty words as the average child . . . and, in their acts, to use them as intelligently.
Years ago, when my son was 3 or 4, we took a walk up to Eagle Lake in the Desolation Wilderness (part of the Lake Tahoe region). It’s not a long walk and it’s stunningly lovingly — or was, when I was a child, and it was empty, rather than a busy freeway of hikers. In any event, whether because he’s never been a hiking fan or because the crowds were getting to him, my little guy started whining very early in the walk.
We carried him a bit, but mostly, because it was a walk easily within his capability, we tried to cajole and cheer him. I described to him the wonders of the trail (surprise views, cool rocks to climb, a lovely lake), but he was unimpressed. Finally, he’d had it. Digging deep into his barely-out-of-the-toddler-phase vocabulary, he came up with the biggest, nastiest insult he could imagine: “I hate this. It’s a dirty, stinky walk to poo-poo lake.”
If he hoped to shock me, he failed. I laughed so hard I almost fell over. Please note, though, that what he said wasn’t inherently funny or clever. It was funny only because it was the outer reaches of a very small child’s imagination and vocabulary when it came to the art of the insult. [Read more…]