CNN contributor defines who comedians can make fun of Update: Author responds

posted at 7:01 pm on August 9, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

Let’ s just start by saying that this is going to be a touchy subject for a lot of people, but it’s still worth being kicked around a bit over. Earlier this week I wound up reading an editorial piece published at CNN by David M. Perry, associate professor of history at Dominican University in Illinois and author of the blog: How Did We Get Into This Mess? In the article, titled, Is Down syndrome comedy fodder, the author takes comedian Wyatt Cenac to task for a particular joke he told.

“I am like, I am so (BLEEP) high. This is terrible. And I did it in that voice. And I have never done that voice before in my life. I don’t know where that voice came from. But I heard myself use that voice. And in my mind, I went, oh (BLEEP). I just gave myself Down syndrome.” –Wyatt Cenac, This American Life, 5/4/2014

Perry, the father of a son with Down syndrome, is understandably in tune with the subject and describes the heartrending personal experiences he’s had in his own family. With that as the setting, the author then proceeds to describe exactly what’s wrong with Cenac, as well as Ricky Gervais and others.

There is no disclaimer that can take the sting out of Cenac’s joke. He and Glass can decide that the humor of the piece is worth being offensive, but they don’t get to determine whether the hurt is real or just. Neither do the many comics that rely on punching down, using mockery of people marginalized by ability, race, religion, gender or sexuality to get a laugh.

Cenac isn’t alone. Ricky Gervais, in the British TV show “Derek,” plays a man who appears to be disabled. Derek is supposed to be a positive example, but much of the comedy extends from his disabled physicality — a hunched back, a slacked toothsome mouth, and a shuffling walk. Other laughs come from his cluelessness as he cheerily staggers through uncomfortable scenes.

Gervais has said he doesn’t mean to make fun of people with intellectual disabilities, saying in an interview, “I’ve never considered him disabled; he is a ‘out of the mouth of babies’ innocent person who always says the right thing that you didn’t see coming. And if I say he’s not disabled, that’s the end of it.”

That’s not the end of it. Not for Gervais. Not for Cenac.

First of all, dismissing Cenac’s explanation of the joke – something which never makes a joke funnier, by the way – as just a “disclaimer” to cover his own backside is rather abrupt and disingenuous. Wyatt wasn’t making a joke about a person with a disability… he was making fun of himself, but used the name of the disability as a descriptor. But Cenac isn’t really the issue here. Are we so far gone in terms of making sure that nobody’s feelings are ever hurt that you can’t even say the name of the affliction? And who precisely qualifies for social “protection” from the the aim of comedians. Perhaps more to the point, who doesn’t qualify?

What does Perry want to do about somebody like Daniel Tosh, who has a weekly television show on Comedy Central where he makes fun of every race, every religion… pretty much everyone. And I’m talking about seriously offensive comments which, in normal conversation, would earn him a mouth full of broken teeth? The fact is that Tosh’s seemingly impenetrable defense is precisely that he does make fun of everyone. And while I don’t personally watch him any more (mostly because of the excess of scatological humor) he is, at times, very funny.

What about comics like Carlos Mencia who also crossed just about every line of decorum imaginable? As a Honduran born American, he could clearly get away with doing jokes about the Taco Bell dog, but he went on from there to say that we needed “a black dog. A ghetto rottweiler with an ear cut off and a bullet in his a** doing commercials for Kentucky Fried Chicken.” (Warning: NSFW language in that linked clip.) Of course, Mencia may have gotten a bit more slack for being a minority himself. If Ron White tried that joke he’d probably still be sitting in a cell waiting for a bail hearing.

But the point is, how many limits are we supposed to put on comedians? And perhaps more to the point, if we are going to have such social rules of order and propriety for comedy, how is it that other groups are still fair game? Why is it completely acceptable to put on a fake drawl and make fun of Southerners as ignorant redneck hicks who all have sexual relations with their sisters and brothers? I don’t see anyone raising a ruckus over that.

Was Cenac’s joke in bad taste? I don’t know. I laughed at it. I suppose it all comes down to the “taste” of the person listening. If you don’t like the material, don’t pay for tickets to the comic’s show or add to their ratings by watching them on television. Maybe it’s not such an evil, civilization ending idea to suggest that we all just lighten up a little.

This article was edited to reflect that Carlos Mencia was born in Honduras. The original version incorrectly stated Mexico.

UPDATE: Sunday, August 10 (Jazz) The author of the CNN editorial in question, David Perry, contacted me to discuss my coverage of his article. With the permission of the author, I will share portions of that exchange below.

David first suggested that I point our readers to another source, that being the conversation he had with Cenac. He includes this comment.

I don’t expect to persuade anyone, but it’s just possible that Wyatt himself might…

He said (and approved this summary and quote): “Most comedy risks being offensive, but his goal is never to do it “at the expense” of marginalized people or “in a way that promotes continued insensitive behavior.”…

I don’t claim to police comedy or demand comedy starts. Anyone can say anything they want. But what they can’t control is the reaction of the listener. My reaction, the reaction of others in the disability community, is genuine. I like to say – you can’t decide whether I’m offended, you can only decide whether you care. And I fully recognize that you may not care.

That didn’t really satisfy my original questions, so I asked a few follow-ups to determine who precisely qualifies as marginalized persons and what precisely he was trying to accomplish.

As to the first, you refer to rednecks as a “marginalized people.” (Though reading some of the comments already submitted to the piece by actual rednecks, they seem pretty clear that they’d rather punch you than be considered a target of punching down.) Am I correct in assuming that you would apply the same designation and protection to all racial minorities?

How about religions? (“A minister, a priest and a rabbi walk into a bar…”)

Are women marginalized people? (Think dumb blond jokes.)

Hippies? Wall Street investment bankers? Eco-warriors? Global warming deniers? Movie stars? Cable news personalities? Politicians? I’m trying to get a feel for where we’re supposed to draw the lines here.

Second, what precisely are you proposing in your CNN article? If you’re arguing in favor of your own right to be put off and complain about this, then I’m 100% on board with you. But what else? Are you encouraging people not to patronize comedians or shows which engage in such humor? Are you looking for some method to stop them? A boycott? I’m not sure what you’re trying to accomplish. If your sole point is that “you can’t decide whether I’m offended” then, again, we have no argument. You’re welcome to be offended at anything you like. But it sounded like more.

His response:

Those are good questions.

What was interesting about Cenac’s joke and Ira Glass’ response was that they didn’t think they were telling “retard jokes.” Plenty of people do. I turn them off. I tell their sponsors I won’t buy their products. I might well organize collective action (boycotts) if I thought it warranted. They are not, however, very interesting. I’m also unlikely to reach them or their listeners. Those CNN commentators calling me a retard are not people I’m going to reach. I find them interesting though, in an anthropological way (and wrote a bit about them here – ).

It’s where language gets complex that I start writing.

To my reading and listening, Cenac/Glass were both trying to tell the story, get the laughs, AND avoid precisely the kind of response that it engendered in pretty much everyone inside the disability community who heard it. So that’s something I wanted to explore in my writing. To explain how it happens, how the outsider ends up hurting the insider even if they don’t want to, and how to think about such a situation.

Rather than say who is or isn’t a marginalized group, I’ll come back to this. I’m asking comedians, and others, to think about whether their jokes promote harmful stereotypes or undermines them. If they promote them, then I suggest that there are negative consequences – culturally – for promoting harmful stereotypes. It’s up to them whether or not that’s worth it, or whether some other part of the payoff is worth it. For Gervais, for example, the other payoffs of Derek (it’s all about love, or whatever) are worth him aping the physicality and manner of the intellectual disabled. I disagree.

That first linked article seems to be a fairly breathtaking generalization of conservatives in general. (But I suppose we’re not a “marginalized” group, so…) Interesting, the linked blog entry also points readers to another CNN piece he published on Sarah Palin.

Make of all that what you will. But since Perry took the time to reach out, I thought I would include his answers for you.


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Comment pages: 1 2 3

ExpressoBold on August 9, 2014 at 8:50 PM

Give me “The Philadelphia Story” “Mr. Blanding Builds His Dream House” kind of stories.

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 8:54 PM

Oh Good Grief. Now I can’t mention two Cary Grant movies. WTFiretruck!!!

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 8:56 PM

OH GOOD GRIEF!!!! I can’t mention or even link two Cary Grant movies? WTFiretruckZ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 8:57 PM

Opps, the linked comment showed up. Something isn’t right here at HotAir.

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 8:58 PM

DemetriusPhalerum on August 9, 2014 at 8:54 PM

Good evening, Demetrius. :)

Indeed. The practice began with characters going to animation from the ‘funny pages’, and when cartoons were regularly run between features at the movie houses in order to keep the adults interested enough to stick around for the second feature. It carried over into the regular cartoon series for television, and I think they were much better for it.

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 8:58 PM

DemetriusPhalerum on August 9, 2014 at 8:54 PM

I agree. I like the college Rocky and Bullwinkle attended.

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 8:59 PM

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 8:58 PM

Those are both excellent films, Cindy. :)

Have you updated your Java lately? I had a new update a couple of days ago.

But, as you say, HA has been acting a little odd lately, too.

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 9:00 PM

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 8:54 PM

Can you imagine? They used to crank out as many movies in a month as they do in a year now.

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 9:02 PM

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 9:00 PM

Do a test for me. Are you old enough to know who played Rob Petrie? See if you can use his name in a comment.

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 9:04 PM

Jack: that is true of many early cartoons. WB and ‘the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show’ are my favorite examples. Watch a Bugs Bunny cartoon and see how many dialogue references would be understood by adults, or adults and children differently.

DemetriusPhalerum on August 9, 2014 at 8:54 PM

Oh man, Fractured Fairy Tales was the best.

Fenris on August 9, 2014 at 9:04 PM

See if you can use his name in a comment.

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 9:04 PM

.
D!ck Van

ExpressoBold on August 9, 2014 at 9:07 PM

Fenris! Mr. Peabody and the Wayback, Boris and Natasha, ‘wanna see me pull a rabbit out of my hat? Again!?’. Good times. What are the children watching now? I don’t doo TV so I really don’t know.

DemetriusPhalerum on August 9, 2014 at 9:09 PM

Dick Van

ExpressoBold on August 9, 2014 at 9:07 PM

.
Dyyke

ExpressoBold on August 9, 2014 at 9:10 PM

So, Obama and Michelle are laying in bed one night, and Obama blurts out “Not tonight honey, I have a headache!” Michelle goes “You’re using my teleprompter again!”

Fenris on August 9, 2014 at 9:10 PM

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 9:02 PM

The studio system worked. A script was purchased, production began at one end of the studio and moved through it like a factory, from station to station, until there was a finished product.

It was actually called ‘film factory production’.

Irving Thalberg, a young man with a congenital heart condition who befriended Carl Laemmle when he was just a kid who lived next door to Laemmle at the beach back in New Jersey, was given the job of going out Universal ( west coast branch) and trying to discreetly find out why the studio was losing a lot of money. He reported back, via telegrams, to Laemmle, who owned it. What he told Laemmle was that it was run very inefficiently, and he made a number of suggestions to increase production and save money.

Laemmle took his advice and made him studio manager. The film factory system was born.

Thalberg was dubbed ‘The Boy Wonder’ and went on to marry film star Norma Shearer.

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 9:11 PM

I’m dating myself, but Tim Conway was one of the funniest men who ever lived, and he never needed a blue joke or a scatological reference.

His improv could make us laugh until we couldn’t catch our breath- incredible comedy.

Dolce Far Niente on August 9, 2014 at 9:12 PM

DemetriusPhalerum on August 9, 2014 at 9:09 PM

lol! Boris and Natasha… “Cooking up big trouble for moose and for squirrel. ” :)

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 9:13 PM

Aesop’s Fables. :)

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 9:14 PM

Richard Vandyke

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 9:15 PM

ExpressoBold on August 9, 2014 at 9:07 PM

But can you use it all together and spelled correctly?

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 9:15 PM

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 9:11 PM

Have you every read David Niven’s “Bring on the Empty Horses”?

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 9:16 PM

No Cindy, I can’t use Mr. Petri’s real name in a post, either. The moderator is a program and the program is built to catch certain words. Part of that surname is one of them. Unfortunate, because the whole surname is also the surname of a great Dutch painter.

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 9:17 PM

Dolce; what was the character he did from the knees up? Dorf? They don’t make comedy like that anymore.

DemetriusPhalerum on August 9, 2014 at 9:18 PM

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 9:16 PM

That’s his own autobiography isn’t it? I can’t recall sitting down with it, book in hand, and reading it straight through. I probably should, now that I’ve got more time.

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 9:20 PM

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 9:17 PM

I knew it wasn’t a human but you have to wonder what the original thinking was that put this combination off limits. Odd.

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 9:20 PM

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 9:20 PM

Just bits of code, added to a long list, Cindy. I think they buy the basic package and it can be custom tailored as time goes by and for specific lexicons.

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 9:21 PM

But can you use it all together and spelled correctly?

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 9:15 PM

.
Nope.

ExpressoBold on August 9, 2014 at 9:23 PM

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 9:20 PM

He wrote two and I think both were autobiographical in nature and he wrote a novel. “The Moon is a Balloon”, which I have not read and “Bring on the Empty Horses” which I have read several times and LOVE. I believe it is out of print but I have a copy. I might look into the other. Really good insight on those times in Hollywood.

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 9:24 PM

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 9:24 PM

I have read “The Moon is a Balloon”, and it’s very good. I’ve heard that “Bring on the Empty Horses” is similar in tone and style, so each of us may well like the other book.

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 9:26 PM

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 9:26 PM

I was just over at Amazon and both books are available. I’m going to order “The Moon is a Balloon”, which deals with his early life. He is a very good writer.

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 9:31 PM

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 9:31 PM

Excellent. Let me know how you like it. :)

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 9:36 PM

The market will decide what is funny and what is not. People like a comedian, he gets work. If a comedian isn’t funny, or so offensive that people won’t come to see him, he’ll fail.

CNN is news and opinion, not the arbiter of what comedy sells or not. Perry is entitled to his opinion of course. But as soon as he offers some idea of stopping funny (or unfunny) speech, he’s dead wrong.

Walter L. Newton on August 9, 2014 at 9:36 PM

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 9:36 PM

I will. I’m going to either call it a night or get the lap top, puppies are demanding snuggle time.

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 9:39 PM

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 9:39 PM

I’m going to take a break, myself, and deal with some messages and email. Take care, Cindy. Good talking with you. :)

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 9:40 PM

Was Cenac’s joke in bad taste? I don’t know. I laughed at it.

Whew. Talk about “easy to please”.

ddrintn on August 9, 2014 at 9:44 PM

ddrintn on August 9, 2014 at 9:44 PM

Imagine what we do for him.

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 9:46 PM

If only people would just be at LEAST as concerned with other peoples’ actions and behaviors instead of their thoughts and words…sigh…

SondraK on August 9, 2014 at 9:53 PM

Thalberg was dubbed ‘The Boy Wonder’ and went on to marry film star Norma Shearer.

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 9:11 PM

You make me curious and think about stuff. Went and looked up Shearer/Thalberg. Very interesting. HA learns me sumpin every day.

arnold ziffel on August 9, 2014 at 9:54 PM

That word that starts with a d and means a lesbian has been blocked forever at HA.

slickwillie2001 on August 9, 2014 at 10:01 PM

A Kenyan, a Muslim, and a guy with an 80IQ walk into a bar. The bartender says what well you have Mr. President?

jukin3 on August 9, 2014 at 10:26 PM

lol! Boris and Natasha… “Cooking up big trouble for moose and for squirrel. ” :)

thatsafactjack on August 9, 2014 at 9:13 PM

I just looked over to my left as I type. All three characters are right there on display. Can’t even remember when I got the little figures. Must have been early eighties when my boy was little.

arnold ziffel on August 9, 2014 at 10:32 PM

A Kenyan, a Muslim, and a guy with an 80IQ walk into a bar. The bartender says what well you have Mr. President?
jukin3 on August 9, 2014 at 10:26 PM

:-)

bluegill on August 9, 2014 at 10:58 PM

CNN contributor defines who WHAT comedians can make fun of

I can see it now:

Tomato joke? Too sexist!

Corn joke? Too Freudian!

Cauliflower joke? Too whitist!

Avocado joke? Too legalistic!

Ugli fruit joke? Too insensitive!

Apple joke? Too likely to promote Eden disorders!

Sweet potato? Too patronizing!

Lettuce joke? Too promiscuous!

Peanut? Too scatological!

Pumpkin? Too incestuous!

And on, anon, anon.

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on August 10, 2014 at 12:29 AM

I regularly poke fun at myself for being an Aspie Jew.
My dad used to tell Shoah jokes that would’ve made Himmler cringe.
People need to grow thicker skins.

annoyinglittletwerp on August 9, 2014 at 8:11 PM

Besides, it’s more fun if you can beat people at making fun of you -
Video: How To Talk Minnesotan

whatcat on August 10, 2014 at 1:16 AM

Carlos: You reefer-smoking retards all claim to hate big business, but the first thing you do when you get so stoned you don’t even know what day of the year it is, is rent movies from Blockbuster, order pizza from Domino’s, drink Budweiser and play the Playstation from SONY. If you really want to help the earth, you must kill yourselves ‘Doobie Hauser M.Dee-Dee-Dee’. Confucius Carlos has spoken.-Carlos Mencia

WestVirginiaRebel on August 10, 2014 at 2:44 AM

I’m Irish on my mom’ side, English on my dad’s, with a little bit of native American thrown in (again on my mom’s side). That means I can oppress myself and get drunk over it at the same time.

WestVirginiaRebel on August 10, 2014 at 2:46 AM

Why is it completely acceptable to put on a fake drawl and make fun of Southerners as ignorant redneck hicks who all have sexual relations with their sisters and brothers? I don’t see anyone raising a ruckus over that.

Obviously it is jealousy.
Stop moving down/over here because you messed up your state.

LoganSix on August 10, 2014 at 4:47 AM

I can see it now:
Tomato joke? Too sexist!
Corn joke? Too Freudian!
Cauliflower joke? Too whitist!
Avocado joke? Too legalistic!
Ugli fruit joke? Too insensitive!
Apple joke? Too likely to promote Eden disorders!

Get out.

Sweet potato? Too patronizing!
Lettuce joke? Too promiscuous!
Peanut? Too scatological!
Pumpkin? Too incestuous!
And on, anon, anon.

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on August 10, 2014 at 12:29 AM

I know I’m going to regret this but WTF?

RINO in Name Only on August 10, 2014 at 6:52 AM

Do a test for me. Are you old enough to know who played Rob Petrie? See if you can use his name in a comment.

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 9:04 PM

You know, his real name was Richard van Lesbian, before his agent made him change it.

BigAlSouth on August 10, 2014 at 6:56 AM

Just an FYI (which I didn’t even know myself) it seems that the auto-filter is not allowing the name of Dick Van Dyke, and it appears to be the last name hanging it up, since it allows Dick Cheney, et al on a regular basis. I cleared a few of the ones that were hung up when I got up this morning. Apologies.

J

Jazz Shaw on August 10, 2014 at 7:21 AM

But the point is, how many limits are we supposed to put on comedians?

When I met my wife, she had never seen one of the most racially charged movies out there: Blazing Saddles.

Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor wrote the movie. The epitome of the leftist culture.

Could a movie like that ever be produced today in this environment? Not a chance. With all of the racial slurs and slanders in that movie, the left would have their heads explode.

The actors knew it was just in good humor.

While filming, Burton Gilliam was at first having a difficult time saying the word n****r, especially to Cleavon Little because he really liked him. Finally after several cuts, Cleavon took him off to the side and told him it was okay because these weren’t his words. Cleavon jokingly added “if I thought you would say those words to me in any other situation we’d go to fist city but this all fun. Don’t worry about it.”

Like you said, people need to lighten up.

Patriot Vet on August 10, 2014 at 7:23 AM

Also, the author of the original CNN article reached out to me last night in a lengthy e-mail exchange, apparently taking issue with my coverage of his CNN editorial. Awaiting permission to reprint portions of that exchange so he can explain himself a bit further and try to answer the questions I had for him. Will update if that gets wrapped up. In the meantime, I have no qualms about linking two other articles of his which he pointed me to. (These are published works, not private correspondence.)

First is an article at his blog about conservatives in general.
http://www.thismess.net/2014/05/fruit-worst-insult-conservative-man-can.html

Second is a piece he published at CNN earlier this year about Sarah Palin, which he seems to feel proves something, given the reaction from conservatives to it.
http://edition.cnn.com/2014/05/01/opinion/perry-palin-baptism-waterboarding/index.html?hpt=op_t1

Jazz Shaw on August 10, 2014 at 7:24 AM

Let’s see, if you are fascist, communist, Muslim, or an Obama liberal … you are so sensitive you need drugs to calm you.
We cannot say anything in jest, or, otherwise … You might get audited.

kregg on August 10, 2014 at 7:59 AM

Dorf :) The Tim Conay sketches. Forget the name of the other guy who was in them with him but he played the guy who taught Patrick Swayze how to use his new powers in Ghost.

pdigaudio on August 10, 2014 at 8:13 AM

Arrrrrrgggghhhhh!!!!!
They’re jokes, fer chrissake.
When did “offending” someone become a crime?
Most goofy things used to start in California and spread across the country from there. Now, it seems, that Great Britain is the birthplace of goofiness, especially in the political correctness realm.

justltl on August 10, 2014 at 8:20 AM

This article is gay.

tomas on August 10, 2014 at 8:40 AM

Article updated with responses from the author.

Jazz Shaw on August 10, 2014 at 8:53 AM

Jazz, you should research Jim Norton ‘ s keynote speech from the Montreal comedy festival about two weeks ago. It dealt with exactly this topic.

Nothing is sacred when it comes to jokes and comedy. And nothing should be.

Defenestratus on August 10, 2014 at 9:08 AM

Can we analyze the fun out of clowns next?

Ronnie on August 10, 2014 at 9:11 AM

a hunched back, a slacked toothsome mouth, and a shuffling walk

Akzed on August 10, 2014 at 9:30 AM

IMO: You make fun of everything, or nothing.

What about dead baby jokes??

Lord Whorfin on August 10, 2014 at 9:36 AM

Jazz! How dare you question Mr. Perry? He’s a young hipster and his opinion is, uh, more right than yours because he’s a young hipster!

Vince on August 10, 2014 at 9:43 AM

Lighten up, Frances.

Wino on August 10, 2014 at 10:09 AM

Michael Sam told his teammates that he had their backs.

tomas on August 10, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Same shinola about taking offense to everything nowadays.

Can’t call anything ‘retarded’ anymore. Can’t call anything ‘gay’ anymore, etc, without fear of offending the perpetually offended classes in society today.

It’s moronic. And I use that word only because it’s one of those words that doesn’t seem to offend so much.

Yet.

catmman on August 10, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Sounds like as long as we are making fun of straight white males we are all good.

tomas on August 10, 2014 at 10:12 AM

It’s strange how the people who want society to be as uninhibited as possible are so concerned that someone’s feelings may be hurt. People used to have more class in how they spoke because they had more class in how they lived.

I’m offended that they’re offended. Now I get to be a victim too. I demand they cater to my wishes and accommodate my whims.

Psycroptic on August 10, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Lighten up, Frances.

Wino on August 10, 2014 at 10:09 AM

Yes.

He should lose the earring too.

CW on August 10, 2014 at 10:43 AM

The vast majority of comedians agree that nothing should be off limits. If you can’t take a joke or are easily offended, don’t go to a comedy club until you’ve grown some thicker skin.

TarasBulbous on August 9, 2014 at 7:05 PM

Perhaps the same should be said about every other group that gets offended? Blacks, gays, Latinos, feminists, etc?

And why should only comedians get free rein to offend? Why are the rest of us restrained by the PC police and the ones who are professional fools get excused?

katiejane on August 10, 2014 at 10:47 AM

David Perry expects Catholics to bend their social teachings to support things like homosexual marriage, gender changing operations, and even abortion.

Yet, in his personal dealings with that which is closer to his family, he is unbending. He must speak out, and he does it in an unbending way.

He says

Absolutism is dangerous. It divides and discourages discussion. We live in a complex world in which new lines of division lines fall not between holders of different beliefs, but between those willing to engage in dialogue and those who descend into the silent surety of their perfect understanding. I hope that this weekend all parties embrace pluralism.

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/05/the-cardinal-and-the-prime-minister/275981/

So, what I now get is that Professor Perry lives in a glass house clad with the silent surety of perfect understanding. But, unlike Cenac, his disclaimer, that he understands the place from which us Catholics come, still gives him the right to poke at beliefs which originate from God Himself.

So, David Parry has full moral equivalence with those he denounces.

I don’t agree with what these comedians have done, but I sure as hell do not agree with David Perry.

unclesmrgol on August 10, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8

Oh, snap. I just marginalized myself!

locomotivebreath1901 on August 10, 2014 at 10:58 AM

David Perry expects Catholics to bend their social teachings to support things like homosexual marriage, gender changing operations, and even abortion.

Open-minded to the point of his brain falling out.

CW on August 10, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Thing is, this wasn’t “a joke.” It was a humorous relating of a real-life experience, in which Cenac, high on pot, finds himself (a) unable to speak normally and (b) concluding – again while high – that the drugs must have given him Down Syndrome. So this wasn’t some tossed-off joke or even a work of fiction, but an experience from his own life. That means it’s not just about trying to keep certain jokes from being told publicly, but trying to keep certain life experiences from being related publicly, specifically the experience of drugs messing him up and making him think it’s permanent brain damage. Considering how easily we now dismiss non-humorous stories of pot-related harm, I’d say his story did more good than harm, but you have to understand the context to understand that, and no one seems to be talking about said context.

calbear on August 10, 2014 at 11:08 AM

I followed the link to his article on Sarah Palin, which contains the following:

When Palin stood before the huge crowd of mostly white people, she told her audience to be afraid and to be prepared for civilian violence. She spoke about “that evil Muslim terrorist Maj. (Nidal) Hasan … his Allah Akbar (sic) praising jihad.” She said, “Ammo is expensive, don’t waste a bullet on a warning shot.” She divided the world between “us” and “them,” with no room for dialogue.

I invite the author to review the ISIS tweets of the last 48 hours or so, and then weigh the first bolded statement with them in mind.

For the second bolded statement, please inform your readers how you “dialogue” with people who think nothing of shooting, beheading, and then sticking those heads on poles, all in the name of their God.

And then, just for fun, explain how its Palins’ fault. I know you can do it.

BobMbx on August 10, 2014 at 11:18 AM

It’s much easier to make fun of things that don’t involve you and those you love personally.

katiejane on August 10, 2014 at 11:21 AM

calbear on August 10, 2014 at 11:08 AM

Agreed, but Cenac played to a stereotype.

unclesmrgol on August 10, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Perhaps the same should be said about every other group that gets offended? Blacks, gays, Latinos, feminists, etc?

And why should only comedians get free rein to offend? Why are the rest of us restrained by the PC police and the ones who are professional fools get excused?

katiejane on August 10, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Oh, don’t misunderstand, I’m with you 100%. Either we have total free speech or we have no free speech, nothing should be “protected” from the speech of others. I merely singled out Comedians because that is the topic at hand.

TarasBulbous on August 10, 2014 at 11:36 AM

BigAlSouth on August 10, 2014 at 6:56 AM

There was a time when that wouldn’t have gotten through the Hot Air filters but we are enlightened now. Characters from Star Wars and Star Trek were added when comparing them to FLOTUS became a running joke. Now that was funny.

Cindy Munford on August 10, 2014 at 11:39 AM

I’m asking comedians, and others, to think about whether their jokes promote harmful stereotypes or undermines them. If they promote them, then I suggest that there are negative consequences – culturally – for promoting harmful stereotypes.

I call horse hockey. He isn’t asking them to do anything of the sort and if they are doing it to Southerners, conservatives, Tea Partiers he’s giving them a standing O. His little portion of the real world got dinged, and while I am sorry, buck up. You will be a stronger advocate for your child if you worry more about him than what anyone says about him.

Cindy Munford on August 10, 2014 at 11:49 AM

Jazz Shaw on August 10, 2014 at 7:21 AM

Thank you!

Cindy Munford on August 10, 2014 at 11:50 AM

If they promote them, then I suggest that there are negative consequences – culturally – for promoting harmful stereotypes.

What a load of bull…

That’s his way of saying he enjoys and encourages promoting stereotypes when they serve his political agenda. (Because those aren’t harmful… they’re “necessary” to educate the populace and stop them from becoming them)

Skywise on August 10, 2014 at 11:54 AM

I am right wing but don’t always agree with other right wingers, and this is one of those occasions (and which is why I fear I may sometimes get mistaken for a liberal).

Some of the questions you (Jazz Shaw) ask, like, “and how should comedians know who to joke about or how do they know when a joke is going too far” etc, it’s hard to define this stuff, but it’s like, “you know it when you see it / hear it.”

I have never liked cruel humor, or people who think it’s clever or funny to joke about sacred cows, or to joke about awful things like death or rape.

Not only is joking about such topics insensitive, but it’s lame.

The only thing comedians have been doing the last 20 or more years is going for the “shock” factor. It is not longer original or clever at this point in time to make another joke about a large scale tragedy where people died, or to make another rape joke.

Comedians who rely on those tactics are too lazy to stick to “clean” humor, so they toss out some racial jokes they know will offend whatever group, or tell sexist jokes because they know it will hack off feminists, etc.

Sometimes people with liberal political views take comedic pot shots at right wingers, or topics near and dear to the hearts of right wingers, and I don’t like it.

But I also don’t like it when people who are more right wing do the same thing to people on the left in regards to the sacred cows of left wingers.

Then you have the hypocrisy, where leftists will complain about right wingers who tell anti-woman jokes, or who make barbs about the looks of lefty women (which I’m not fine with, and I’m a righty), but these same leftists will turn around five minutes later and tell rape jokes about right wingers Sarah Palin – and I’m not okay with that, either.

Anyway, I don’t like mean-spirited, vulgar, or crass humor by stand up comics, or ones in movies, especially at the expense of a person or group of persons, regardless of its source.

People should practice self restraint in this area. Just because we live in the USA and have free speech does not mean you should use your freedom to mouth off and say offensive things.

I have always found that comics who base a large part of their shtick or routine on bashing other groups, making fun of whatever group, are big jerks, and I don’t find most of their “humor” humorous.

I also agree with a lady up thread who said that people who crack jokes against “X” issue or whatever group often feel comfortable doing so if they are personally not involved…

Like if you don’t personally have a kid or sibling with Down’s Syndrome, I suppose, yes, you would find it really easy to make joke or comedic characters based on someone with such a condition and not see what the big deal is, or how it could be considered offensive or hurtful.

TigerPaw on August 10, 2014 at 12:37 PM

TigerPaw on August 10, 2014 at 12:37 PM

The difference is (Liberal/Conservative) is not that people shouldn’t think better of some of these “jokes” but that these jokes should be allowed to be made. And there shouldn’t be two differing standards for people you agree with politically and those you don’t.

Cindy Munford on August 10, 2014 at 12:46 PM

He’s probably pretty upset at Stephen Colbert then, huh? This guy has an entire show dedicated to mocking conservatism. And it’s not even funny.

ButterflyDragon on August 9, 2014 at 8:50 PM

But, that’s different!

/s

Dr. ZhivBlago on August 10, 2014 at 2:08 PM

the disability community

Oh sod off you cliche-ridden idiot

jangle12 on August 10, 2014 at 2:42 PM

Sounds like as long as we are making fun of straight white males conservatives we are all good.

tomas on August 10, 2014 at 10:12 AM

ReWrite™ engaged for Goebels Jr.’s sake.

Steve Eggleston on August 10, 2014 at 3:01 PM

I’m hardly ever on HotAir anymore, but it sounds like there is some heavy filtering going on.

disa on August 10, 2014 at 3:04 PM

We need a new Constitutional Amendment – We have the right to be offended.

faraway on August 10, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Like if you don’t personally have a kid or sibling with Down’s Syndrome, I suppose, yes, you would find it really easy to make joke or comedic characters based on someone with such a condition and not see what the big deal is, or how it could be considered offensive or hurtful.
TigerPaw on August 10, 2014 at 12:37 PM

I agree with your post. I think some people here just want to show how pro-free speech they are when they shrug off and snicker about the jokes related to such children. I don’t care what anyone says; no decent person makes nasty jokes at the expense of such children.

bluegill on August 10, 2014 at 3:08 PM

I agree with your post. I think some people here just want to show how pro-free speech they are when they shrug off and snicker about the jokes related to such children. I don’t care what anyone says; no decent person makes nasty jokes at the expense of such children.

bluegill on August 10, 2014 at 3:08 PM

Professor Perry has been wounded in exactly the way that, in his own writings, he wounds others.

Pointing out the hypocrisy of the left doesn’t mean agreeing about the methods of the left — for both Wayne Cenac and David Perry are creatures of the left.

unclesmrgol on August 10, 2014 at 4:08 PM

Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into a sewer and die.-Mel Brooks

I actually agree about intentionally cruel humor (certain practical jokes, for instance) and rape jokes. Don’t know why anyone ever found that stuff funny.

But most other humor is subjective. If it makes you laugh, then it’s funny. If you don’t get the joke (especially when it’s on you) it’s not.

WestVirginiaRebel on August 10, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Just for the record, Moose was not always as stupid as he appeared.

J.B. Say on August 10, 2014 at 4:41 PM

Sorry … this guy is one of the perpetually offended. I read part of his other commentary on Sarah Palin…. He’s a leftwing loon with a chip on his shoulder that continually gets knocked off.

Go away.

roux on August 10, 2014 at 10:16 PM

Only an American college professor could come up with the idea that mockery equates exclusion.

There’s really no question that the dumbest people on the planet are American college professors, and David M. Perry serves as an excellent example of that irrefutable fact. They drone on endlessly about the disproportionate disparities of the disaffected disenfranchised, and other made-up progressive gobbledygook which seems to pass for real knowledge in the modern academic setting. Unfortunately, there’s nothing useful in memorizing the abject stupidity that liberal professors dream up in their own windowless academic offices. It’s why graduates are emerging from from these fascism factories largely uneducated and incompetent, and lacking of any genuinely employable skills. Because idiot professors like Perry waste student’s time with tall tales of Che Guevara, indulgences in social justice fantasy-making, and engagements in fascism masquerading as activism, rather than teach them anything genuinely applicable in the real world. American college professors just don’t have anything of value to teach, because their entire caricullum is based on an ideology was founded through the haze of LSD and other mind altering substances by hallucinating adolescents back in the flatulent 1960s. Even worse, they force students to pay thousands for classes that do little more than regurgitate the contents of a book that the students could buy and read on their own for $24.95. The only thing I’m surprised by here is the fact that Perry didn’t try to shoehorn the words collective, collaborative, or cooperative into his diatribe somewhere. But I digress.

The fact that Perry doesn’t recognize the reality that his child is part of the “disability community” and not Perry himself, demonstrates his own general self-centeredness on the matter. It’s not his child’s well being that is his primary concern, but rather his own highly mockable offended reaction. Apparently every dippy hippy in the faculty lounge longs to be marginalized and only finds validation in being offended, but perhaps Perry’s child would better off if he would give his child’s well-being more importance than his own desperate search for something to be offended by.

Anti-free speech campaigns under the aegis of campaigns against dehumanizing speech is exactly the kind of fascist intolerance that will ultimately lead to the banning of comedy altogether. Because for comedy to exist, someone or something needs to be made fun of. The entire concept of the spoof is based wholly on mockery.

Is anyone here old enough to remember all those paper back books filled with nothing but ethnic jokes? Even folks who were of those very same ethnicities would laugh at those jokes. Those of Polish and Irish descent would exchange those jokes, and laugh with each other about themselves, because they had a sense of humor about themselves. But more importantly, they had important things to do with their lives, and didn’t have time for or any interest in soap-operatic hand-wringing over minutiae. Then the dippy hippy stumbled out of the piss holes of Woodstock, and made perpetual emotional outrage the primary focus of the modern progressive dimwit, whose sole interest seems to be to call attention to their own moronic feelings in order to fill the gaping holes in their utterly purposeless lives.

This is nothing more than a deeply stupid word game where progressives arbitrarily decide which words are unacceptable, so they can catch their political opponents in manufactured “gotcha” moments when they dare utter them, and hinder their articulation in political debates and arguments. We need to stop playing these games with them, and continue to use the words that make emotional liberal dullards hyperventilate and flap their arms over nothingness. Dehumanizing speech, or more accurately, whatever progressives label as dehumanizing speech, is protected by the 1st Amendment and ought to be. It’s precisely this fascist progressive hypersenstivity to various langauge usage that makes Perry himself far more retarded than his own down syndrome child, so maybe he is part of the “disability community” after all.

What’s next? A fascist anti-free-speech campaign against making fun of people with freckles or dandruff? Give me a break.

When Perry and the rest of the fascist academic sess-pool stops trying to exclude white male heterosexual Christians, then maybe their pontifications on inclusivity will have some kind of meaning. Until then, place them all on ignore.

Star Bird on August 11, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Kind of weird that the Left will vilify someone for joking about a Down Syndrome child (unless related to Gov. Palin) and vilify someone for not aborting a Down Syndrome child. These people are so strange.

Cindy Munford on August 9, 2014 at 7:43 PM

It’s not strange at all.

Hypocrisy is the foundation of all leftist thought.

Star Bird on August 11, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Still at a loss as to why I’m supposed to give a rat’s a$$ what CNN or David Perry think. Oh, sure, they’re supposedly influencers of the culture. But I haven’t figured out yet why this matters to anyone with a brain of their own?

ss396 on August 11, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Am I the last one alive who was taught by his mother:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!

Back when we were kids, almost nobody felt the need for bloodshed or lawsuits over a few insulting words…and those that did were (verbally) dumped on by everyone else…which quickly taught them the stupidity and futility of over-reacting to nothings spoken in the breeze.

Seems to me like we’ve lost perspective…and with it the ability to conduct honest discourse.

/old_fogey>

landlines on August 11, 2014 at 11:45 AM

The bottom line here, is that this guy has a child with serious developmental disabilities, and his biggest concern apparently is how the forgettable comments of some comedian makes him feel.

What a jackass.

Star Bird on August 11, 2014 at 12:20 PM

Seems like a typical liberal; an overly sensitive guy with an inflated sense of intelligence.

Just another call for an Orwellian authoritarian, Brave New World where everyone is drugged stupid. No other way to do it because if 1 person offended is all it takes (or one very small northeastern Indian tribe that wants to shake down the Redskins, or a fraction of the 1.6% of the population that is homosexual who think the history long definition of marriage is offensive, or the dimwits who believe any use of the word black as an adjective is defamatory)to declare a hate crime and push for legislation all communication will grind to a halt in this country.

I’m Irish, anyone want to join me in a class action lawsuit against the liberals at Notre Dame for slandering us by insinuating we are violent and at every bar in the country that has had a St. Patrick’s Day party and intimated that the Irish are drunks?

peacenprosperity on August 11, 2014 at 12:32 PM

If African-Americans, Hispanics, Lesbians, Gays, etc., etc., are entitled to PC consideration, hard to understand why the disabled community isn’t also.

I bet the filter here at HA would prevent me typing numerous slang terms that used to be fairly common in referring to those groups, but have no issue with calling someone a retard. The use of the term f**got is considered offensive to the gay community, perhaps the consideration should be given to words the diabled community find offensive?

katiejane on August 11, 2014 at 1:05 PM

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