A show about nothing, a rant about something. Jerry Seinfeld recently told ESPN Radio that he won't perform on college campuses because of the out-of-control prevailing culture of outrage in academia. His remarks have attracted quite a lot of attention, including criticism from certain quarters. This Huffington Post op/ed from a University of San Diego student lectured Jerry Seinfeld on what is, and is not, funny:
Recently, I've heard about your reluctance to perform on college campuses because of how "politically correct" college students are...As a college student that loves and appreciates offensive, provocative comedy, I'm disheartened by these comments. While I do agree with you that college students today are more sensitive to issues of race and gender politics, it's simply because that's our job as learners. As college students who are engaged in a myriad of social, economic, and political issues, it's our duty to be actively engaged and educated about issues of sexism, racism and prejudice. While, respectively, your daughter might not quite know what's considered "sexist" yet, I can say with confidence that most college students can distinguish the boundaries of what's considered appropriately sexist or not. But, I'd like to refocus the conversation to the state of comedy that you feel like we would call "racist" or "sexist." We need to talk about the role that provocative comedy holds today in a progressive world. It isn't so much that college students are too politically correct (whatever your definition of that concept is), it's that comedy in our progressive society today can no longer afford to be crass, or provocative for the sake of being offensive. Sexist humor and racist humor can no longer exist in comedy because these concepts are based on archaic ideals that have perpetrated injustice against minorities in the past.
This writer proceeds to insist that he wants Seinfeld to feel free to offend and provoke him -- just not with "sexist and racist" humor, it would seem, because those things "can no longer exist in comedy." It's as if this young man is deliberately trying to make it into the sequel of End of Discussion -- which devotes an entire chapter to the Outrage Industry's speech-policing war on comedy. Seinfeld, admirably, is ramping up his attacks on the outrage brigades -- echoing similar concerns aired by the likes of Jay Leno and Chris Rock:
The culture of "shut up" is making American less fun. They are the new school marms; the neo-Puritans. And the Left is chiefly responsible for this joyless scoldery. Political Correctness is their phenomenon, and the academy is decidedly their dominion. Mary Katharine and I discussed these dynamics and End of Discussion on Fox Business Network's Kennedy last evening:
End of Discussion is available everywhere.