There is an interesting story out this week of how comedians are avoiding college campuses due to the increasing levels of speech regulations and complaints over speech deemed insulting to any group. We have been discussing the rapid expansion of speech controls on campuses and the loss of core principles of free speech that once defined American academia. The rule today appears to be to laugh less and protest more on campus.
An example occurred last December when Bill Maher was the subject of a petition drive at the University of California Berkeley by activists opposed to his speaking at winter commencement because of his past remarks criticizing Muslims.
Other comedians reportedly shunning colleges and universities are Jerry Seinfeld, Larry the Cable Guy and Chris Rock. Seinfeld is quoted as saying “[Young people] just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist;’ ‘That’s sexist;’ ‘That’s prejudice.’ … They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.”
I am more concerned about the loss of student than comedian speech. However, both reflect a growing trend toward speech regulation. Ironically, baby boomers who once renowned for free speech on campuses are now rallying to the cause of censorship and speech regulation in the name of pluralism. This includes faculty and students who have supported a California professor who not only destroyed a pro-life display but assaulted those voicing an opposing view to her own. Now that I think about it, there really is nothing funny about what is happening on campuses.