In the 1960s cops arrested Lenny Bruce for word crimes, but today the policed have become the police. It happens all the time: a comedian tells a joke, someone gets offended, and outrage blasts across the land. These days many people seem more interested in being outraged than having a laugh.
Our addiction to outrage is restraining comedians’ creative process, but now some of the sharpest comedic minds, including Gilbert Gottfried, Jim Norton, Lisa Lampanelli, Adam Carolla, Karith Foster, and Penn Jillette, are fighting back. After all, what’s at stake is more than comedy—it’s free speech and the wild and weird process that fuels human progress.
It’s almost as if we’ve been taught to love censorship. Today student comedians get busted when they’re just trying to get laughs. Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Right in Education (FIRE) explains the sad state of free speech on campus, and why all of society is threatened by the cold conformity of college campuses.
Brookings Institution scholar and prominent gay rights advocate Jonathan Rauch explains why comedy is more important than we realize and reveals a surprising reason that helps account for the progress gays and lesbians have enjoyed in recent decades.
Best-selling author Jon Ronson tells the cautionary tale of Justine Sacco, which is featured in his new book SO YOU’VE BEEN PUBLICLY SHAMED. It’s a frightening thought, but we’re all just one clumsy joke away from ruin.