Politically correct culture on college campuses is threatening the institution of comedy and satire. People are increasingly defining viewpoints that conflict with their own as bigoted or racist, setting a dangerous precedent that comedians are no longer allowed to offend. The brilliance of comedy lies in its ability to draw attention to serious issues through satire. If we begin to undermine satire by taking jokes personally, or by looking for buzzwords that we can surround with controversy, the institution of comedy is doomed.
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld made headlines this past June after blasting college campuses for being too politically correct. In an interview with ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, Seinfeld stated, “I don’t play colleges, but I hear a lot of people tell me, ‘Don’t go near colleges. They’re so p.c.’”
Similarly, Amy Schumer was forced to apologize when she made a “racially insensitive” joke about Hispanic men. Schumer’s bit was, “I used to date Hispanic guys, but now I prefer consensual,” implying that Hispanic men are more aggressive when hitting on women.
As a Hispanic male, this does not offend me. In fact, I find it frustrating that people championing “cultural sensitivity” get to decide what is appropriate for everyone else. Comedy is meant to push boundaries and make people feel uncomfortable.
What I do find offensive is that people would think that Hispanics cannot handle jokes being made at their expense. I am no different than anybody else, and I would never want comedy to suffer on the premise that I “might” find something offensive.
Sociology senior Amy Leung said she has witnessed the emergence of political correctness on campus and that it is getting out of hand.
“I understand the need for political correctness, but like anything, I think that too much can be a bad thing,” Leung said. “That’s kind of where our culture is trending.”
Personally, I find it condescending that people would presume I am unable to handle jokes about my own ethnicity. Are Hispanics or other minorities so weak-willed that we cannot take a joke? Looking for ways to be offended undermines the whole purpose of satire.
Now that major comedians are becoming more critical of cultural sensitivity, perhaps we can recognize that, in the end, they are just jokes.
William Hutson is a history senior from El Paso. Follow him on Twitter @MemoHutson.