Nov 11th, 2015, 12:34 AM

PC Thought Police: Defending the "Offended"

By Sam Baird
The tears of a clown.
If we start putting protective walls around certain ideas or groups, sparing them ridicule, we could be on a very slippery slope to a sanitized and inert society.

When did the world lose its sense of humor? Every week I see more and more articles about the thought police trying to silence someone they disagree with or getting mad over a person for criticizing something they care about. The open debate of all ideas, especially the uncomfortable ones, is fundamental to a functioning public sphere, and the attempt by some to try to censor certain speech is in direct opposition to that.

Increasingly, people are getting oversensitive. This seems to be most evident on college campuses, where students, who just became politically active repeatedly have knee-jerk reactions to something said or done, going so far as quelling freedom of speech. This month at Cardiff University in the feminist activist Germaine Greer was scheduled to give a lecture called "Women & Power: The Lessons of the 20th Century". However, because of student protests of her and a fear for her safety, Greer has decided not to attend. The protests started over her comments about transgenders, specifically that transgender women are not actually women. She stated that “the insistence that man-made women be accepted as women is the institutional expression of the mistaken conviction that women are defective males.” While I don’t necessarily agree with her point of view, it’s absurd to silence her on a university campus, the one place where hotly contentious ideas and topics are meant to be discussed and debated.

Germaine Greer: Transgender women are 'not women' - Newsnight

Religion is another area that just can’t be ridiculed these days. Holocaust deniers, anti-vaxxers: these people hold ridiculous beliefs with nothing to back them up and their ideas are mocked all the time, but if that belief is in an invisible man in sky, you better bite your tongue. The late Christopher Hitchens (God bless him) spent the later years of his life consistently exposing the absurdities in religion, making a lot of people very uncomfortable and try to stop him from speaking. Bill Maher is another figure who consistently takes heat for his opinions on religion. He has been repeatedly labeled a bigot, but only when deriding Islam, even though he constantly talks about Christianity as well. It’s just another example of how insincere and capricious people are when deciding what topic they’re going to get upset about that month.

Real Time with Bill Maher: Ben Affleck, Sam Harris and Bill Maher Debate Radical Islam (HBO)

Comedy is by far the most ridiculous example of people getting upset. Whining over a joke told is the worst possible use of a person's time and energy. For many, there are particular areas or topics that can’t be joked about; that one thing that right now is sacred and cannot be offended. This is an insane and dangerous position to take. If we start putting protective walls around certain ideas or groups, sparing them any ridicule, we could be on a very slippery slope to a sanitized, inert society. Speaking of college campuses and how politically correct kids are getting, Jerry Seinfeld won’t even play them anymore. He says, “they 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.” The insanely dark comic, Anthony Jeselnik takes the offensive when it comes to this issue. His entire act consists of jokes about horrible things. In his recent Netflix comedy special Thoughts and Prayers (which I highly recommend), he illuminated his stance discussing how he makes jokes about tragedies the day they happen: “I don’t believe in too soon, I’m on a tight schedule.”

No topics are too sensitive and sacred cows can't exist if we want to be a society of grown ups. It's okay to be offended by something you don't agree with, but you should never use your being offended as a reason to silence or censor someone else.