Humor is dying on campus – and it isn’t funny. Increasingly, jokes can’t be told, or laughed at, at least not without fearing backlash or a verbal lashing from the campus thought police.
As the old saying goes: “Grow thicker skin.” Or better yet: “Grow a pair.”
But instead, students, with the help of administrators, have infantilized themselves in what’s becoming the “safe space” era of college. From the padded walls of an insane asylum, we’ve reached the padded walls of a campus classroom, and now the inmates run the place.
Thanks to a combination of identity politics, hints of moral relativism and the right to victimization, college students can no longer bare any unsavory joke, satire, or tongue-in-cheek comment. We’ve reached the dawn of humorless campuses, a tragedy.
“I like to think that all jokes are okay as long as it’s making the joke about society rather than about the victim of society,” a student from a humor group, Bloomers, told the student newspaper at the University of Penn.
Herein lies the problem.
In college, students are bludgeoned over the head with language like “inclusive” and “diverse,” every sentence that’s spoken from the mouths of students and faculty is expected to include all identities on campus—an impossible feat in the pluralist age. Students could use an opportunity to blow off some steam with a few laughs. Plus, comedy has always played on the plight of “victims.” They’re literally the butt of many jokes.
But recent examples illustrate such comedy is no longer tolerated on campus.
April Fools’ Day satirical articles in the University of Virginia’s Cavalier Daily were retracted after a backlash with accusations of racism. One mocked “themed” frat parties accused of racial undertones (think “Taco Tuesday” or “Islander Fun”). The other mocked police brutality. The headlines were: “Zeta Psi hosts ‘Rosa Parks’ party” and “ABC officers tackle Native American student outside Bodo’s Bagels.” The latter was a jab at a violent arrest of a black student at UVA by alcohol enforcement officers.
Distasteful? Maybe. Funny? A little bit.
But rather than having a backbone, the Cavalier Daily self-flagellated itself: “We are embarrassed that our empathy for these immensely serious issues [in the black student’s arrest] was undermined by this piece. We had no intentions of victimizing another underrepresented community in the process.”
A parody news channel at Ohio University was also recently pressured into deleting parody Twitter accounts of students running for student government. Apparently it’s not funny to make fun of politicians anymore, and student candidates clearly cannot take a joke.
The fact is, free speech and expression challenge the ideological basis of “safe spaces.” As Dan Savage pointed out, the “blizzard of special snowflakes” are out to protect their “identities,” hence why comedians like Chris Rock won’t visit college campuses anymore and there was pushback of Bill Maher as commencement speaker.
As Rock pointed out: “You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.”
If progressives feel as though satire doesn’t fit their agenda, they slap a big “RACIST” sticker on it, say it’s not funny or offensive, and have it abolished.
But not every distasteful joke is rooted in systematic racism or micro-aggressive oppression.
It’s April, so lighten up, buttercup. Because what’s worse than being unabashedly and illogically illiberal? Not having a sense of humor.
College Fix contributor Derek Draplin is a student at the University of Michigan.
IMAGE: Main, YouTube screenshot/Inside, Clara Alim photo/Flickr