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Campus life continues to be purged of even the pretense of humor

The dreary sterilization of college continues

Texas Governor Greg Abbot recently signed into law a bill that would, among other things, criminalizes sex jokes on Texas campuses. That law follows the Obama administration’s earlier definition of campus sexual harassment, a definition that that administration made incredibly overbroad as a sop to progressive campus radicals, which is to say most of them. Even sex jokes overheard by a third party could be criminally actionable.

If there is one thing that marks American college life as the third decade of the 21st century dawns, it is a grim, cheerless opposition to humor. At one college, making jokes can get you reported to a “bias response team.” At another, the administration suspended a professor over a classroom joke. At Columbia University they yanked the mic of a stand-up comedian after he told an unsanctioned joke.

This kind of low-grade hysteria misses the point of humor entirely, to say the least. Some of the greatest humor in the catalogue depends upon offensive material: blue jokes, religious clichés, demographic barbs, sex puns. Most grown adults, of which precious few seem to exist on many campuses today, are able to tell the difference between a genuinely offensive remark and a genuinely funny joke. It is sometimes a fine line—but it’s not that fine, not so much so that one needs an entire federal bureaucracy to enforce it.

It would be instructive to ask a campus social justice warrior—they are easy enough to find—what jokes, precisely, are acceptable in the new registry of progressive thought. One rather assumes that any sort of joke involving white people (of which there are many funny ones) is fair game. Apart from that, what? Perhaps a knock-knock joke or two. Then again, knock-knock jokes, predicated as they are on the existence of a front door, are decidedly biased against homeless individuals. Those have to go, as well.

MORE: How to tell a joke on a college campus

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