Comedy and the Culture Wars

Sunday, January 12, 2020

What Is It

Comedy can often give offense, especially when it concerns such sensitive topics as race, gender, and sexuality. Should comedy like that be shunned, boycotted, even banned? Can it be enjoyed without danger? Or could it even, at its best, be the road to a better society? Could it somehow help us all to live together, and to come to terms with intractable social issues we’ll never fully put behind us? The Philosophers have a laugh with Jeff Israel from Williams College, author of Living with Hate in American Politics and Religion: How Popular Culture Can Defuse Intractable Differences.

Comments (7)


Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Monday, November 18, 2019 -- 11:51 AM

As we are all well aware,

As we are all well aware, there are many kinds of comedy, some of which push the proverbial envelope beyond all reasonable limit. Those who indulge in the art of comedy generally choose a sub genre which meets a particular need or appeals to a particular audience. Those who practice comedy for profit know their audience pretty well, and if they choose controversial topics, they also know they are taking some risks, all of which descends from our national treasure, freedom of speech. The guy with the red face does not appear amused, and might be the one who pulls out the semi-automatic pistol. Still, there are times when comedy can defuse a bad situation---it is not always easy to determine the outcome of such circumstances , and, an element of risk is usually present. We risk a lot when we engage in speech acts (see: John R. Searle)---there are innumerable risks taken everyday. Comedians like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin sometimes seemed reckless beyond belief, foolhardy to the point of a death wish. But in their madness was method. They wanted to make us think about more than the superficiality of the outrageous.

A new face in the crowd of Democratic party offerings has crafted his own take on the MAGA phenomenon. He calls it MATH---Make America Think Harder. Novel idea, that. Don't know how far he might get towards furthering his notions about this, but it is refreshing amid the din. It seems clear to this neophyte that better thinking is in order: that is why we are having culture wars in the first place...

There will always be comedy. And there will always be comedy that offends someone...even when the offense taken is mere whitewash for the self-indulgence of righteous indignation.

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Friday, December 13, 2019 -- 11:43 PM

Searle is a sandwich of the

Searle is a sandwich of the most putrid meat. You're risking much spending time reading him.

Reading is different than speech how? Let me count the ways.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Friday, November 22, 2019 -- 8:06 AM

A Thought for the Day:

A Thought for the Day:
It is rare to find mindfulness in those who suffer from a lack of mind fullness.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Sunday, November 24, 2019 -- 10:50 AM

Another observation:

Another observation:
We ARE what we are taught. We KNOW what we have LEARNED. Some of us, sadly, cannot tell the difference.

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Friday, December 13, 2019 -- 11:43 PM

This is most certainly wrong.

This is most certainly wrong. If we are to ever come to terms let's start by allowing me to rephrase what you are saying.

Human Being == Tabula Rasa.

Answer yes or no and we can start from that.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Monday, January 20, 2020 -- 11:42 AM

I got to thinking about what

I got to thinking about what I said on November 18, 2019, in particular about the MATH movement. Something came to mind which I have worked into the piece on cognitive bias I have been editing for about two weeks.. The notion of thinking harder seems to me to miss the mark. I don't know why it never occurred to me before. Anyway, the text I'm referring to reads as follows: I have found it useful to think better rather than harder. Clarity over-trumps intensity (when cool assessments are required)... So, how does one think better? I cannot teach anyone how to do that. The language tries to be self-explanatory. It is not Zen, or any such manipulation, but it does take some practice. Recently, I offered some advice to my son-in-law, struggling with his own daemons. I told him that providence smiles on determination and purpose. I hope that helps him think better...