Comedy, as an art, is disappearing. Political correctness and progressive politics make almost anything offensive and free speech, the right to offend, almost impossible. Several prominent comedians, including Jerry Seinfeld and John Cleese, refuse to perform on college campuses because of this growing outrage culture. But some comedians are pushing against that and trying to reclaim the power to voice their opinions, regardless of what others think.
Comedians, perhaps more any other profession, understand the power and necessity of free speech. After all, as comedian John Cleese said in an interview with Big Think, “All humor is critical.” It seems like more and more certain comedians are fighting not only the right to be heard but the right to offend.
John Cleese, a co-founder of Monty Python, perhaps put it best: “If people can’t control their own emotions, then they have to start trying to control other people’s behaviors. If you’re around super sensitive people, you cannot relax or be spontaneous because you have no idea what’s going to upset them next. … The whole point about humor, the whole point about comedy, is that all comedy is critical. All humor is critical, if you start thinking you must not criticize or offend them, then humor is gone. With humor goes a sense of proportion, and then as far as I’m concerned, you’re living in 1984.”
Rob Schneider is probably best known as a former member of Saturday Night Live (SNL) and as a close friend and frequent co-star of Adam Sandler. He’s also prominent activist in the anti-vaccine movement, and recently made several pro-free speech comments on Twitter.
“Silencing those we disagree with denies us the chance to question our preconceived notions,” Schneider tweeted. “Either to reaffirm them or reassess them. Our ideas need and should always be consistently challenged and reconsidered so we don’t merely end up as consensus group think.”
In another tweet, he quoted Noam Chomsky, “Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.”
For democracy to flourish, people should have the right to say what they want. Even if it is considered by others as wrong, offensive, bigoted, hateful, hypocritical, heretical or anything else, because that is free speech. If we can only say certain things because saying something else might offend someone, we might as well be living in a totalitarian state.
In a famous quote by Alexander Hamilton, he said, “Give all the power to the many, they will oppress the few. Give all the power to the few, they will oppress the many.”
It is a shame to watch college campuses, the place where free speech should flourish, being controlled by the progressive, leftist mob. The violence that happens on some campuses just because conservative speakers like Ben Shapiro and Ann Coulter are speaking is a sign that freedom of thought no longer is valued among our institutions of higher education. That does not bode well for the future.
As Americans, we should have the right to think the world is flat or that the moon landing was faked. Those are all thoughts that many would find ridiculous, but people have the right to them and not be subjected to charges of hate speech or censored for them. That is the beauty of a democracy.
The question is, “can we keep it?”