August 9, 2017

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Ted Balaker: This University President Can’t Take a Joke.

A university president recently addressed his campus community about an incident that had shaken his Wisconsin school.

“The last few days have been painful ones for many members of our community, as they have also been for me,” wrote Lawrence University’s Mark Burstein. “The event and its aftermath have left many students wondering whether the University cares about their safety.”

Again and again, Burstein returned to the issue of safety: “We are working closely with the Appleton Police Department to investigate all instances where physical safety is threatened. If there is anyone who has an immediate safety concern, please contact Campus Safety….”

Television news crews captured the aftermath of an event so disturbing that Burstein never identifies it specifically. So what was it? A spate of muggings? A murder?

No. The disturbing event was a campus screening of my documentary, Can We Take a Joke? The film examines the clash between comedy and outrage culture, and in it comedians ranging from newbie college jokesters to successful veterans such as Gilbert Gottfried, Penn Jillette, Adam Carolla, Lisa Lampanelli, and Jim Norton push back against the “Outrage Mob” and stand up for comedy and free speech.

The film includes a variety of free speech scholars, and pays special attention to the college scene. It explains how universities have taught generations of students that they can shut down opinions they don’t like simply by declaring they’re offended.

Read the whole thing.

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