Jerry Seinfeld says that other comedians tell him to stay away from college campuses because they are too politically correct to handle the satiric humor that forms the bedrock of their standup routines.

He told ESPN Radio last week, “I don’t play colleges but I hear a lot of people tell me, ‘Don’t go near colleges, they’re so PC.’ … They just want to use these words. ‘That’s racist. That’s sexist. That’s prejudice.’ They don’t even know what they’re talking about.”

Chris Rock said something similar to a New York Magazine interviewer last year, saying colleges have been taken over by “kids raised on a culture of ‘We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.’ Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say ‘the black kid over there.’ No, it’s ‘the guy with the red shoes.’ ”

Rock added, “This is not as much fun as it used to be. I remember talking to George Carlin before he died and him saying the exact same thing.”

These guys aren’t conservatives in any sense, but their business is humor, and they have noted how humorless and grimly censorious campus attitudes have become today.

Of course, conservative students, professors, organizations and guest speakers have endured an on-campus free fire zone for a long time. But now it’s gotten so bad, even progressives are noticing – because some of them are starting to appear on the PC target list.


 On Jan. 27, Jonathan Chait wrote in New York Magazine that “the language police are perverting liberalism” by wielding political correctness as “a style of politics in which the more radical members of the left attempt to regulate political discourse by defining opposing views as bigoted and illegitimate.”

While formerly only hothouse academic environments suffered from this plague, “Today’s political correctness flourishes most consequentially on social media, where it enjoys a frisson of cool and vast new cultural reach. And since social media is also now the milieu that hosts most political debate, the new PC has attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary beyond that of the old.”

In The New York Times on March 21, contributing writer Judith Shulevitz wrote a column titled “In College and Hiding from Scary Ideas,” in which she noted that the desire for “safe spaces” and protection from “triggers” and “microaggressions” was destroying the free interplay of ideas.

While “keeping college-level discussions ‘safe’ may feel good to the hypersensitive,” she said, “it’s bad for them and for everyone else. People ought to go to college to sharpen their wits and broaden their field of vision. Shield them from unfamiliar ideas, and they’ll never learn the discipline of seeing the world as other people see it. They’ll be unprepared for the social and intellectual headwinds that will hit them as soon as they step off the campuses whose climates they have so carefully controlled. What will they do when they hear opinions they’ve learned to shrink from? If they want to change the world, how will they learn to persuade people to join them?”

And progressive professors are definitely feeling the heat. Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis, who teaches filmmaking from a feminist perspective, wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education on Feb. 27 that “sexual paranoia” was rampant in higher education.

She said that “sexual panic” is widespread after new federal Title IX mandates for handling complaints of sexual offenses were imposed by the Obama administration, and the new campus codes, which have been widely criticized for restricting the rights of the accused, are “a striking abridgment of everyone’s freedom” and “intellectually embarrassing.”


The result? A student complained, and Northwestern investigated Kipnis for a Title IX offense. No charges were brought, but she still endured formal scrutiny for her perfectly legitimate views.

And on the uber-left Vox website June 3, a professor using the nom de cyber “Edward Schlosser” wrote, “I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me.”

A single complaint can ruin a career, so “I have intentionally adjusted my teaching materials as the political winds have shifted. (I also make sure all my remotely offensive or challenging opinions, such as this article, are expressed either anonymously or pseudonymously). Most of my colleagues who still have jobs have done the same. We’ve seen bad things happen to too many good teachers.”

Now, I’m not a professor, so if people complained to me about microaggressions, I’d tell them to work on their microsensitivities.

But clearly there’s something rotten on our campuses. And it’s starting to impact the people who, it must be said, not only didn’t squash it when they could, but actually helped get it started and babied it along.

I guess revolutions really do devour their children – and sometimes their parents.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

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