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Limon on Mocking the Right

Flipping through the latest Alumni Review I found a gem from Prof. John Limon:

Explaining why liberal comedians’ jokes out-numbered those of conservatives in the run-up to Election Day, John Limon, the John J. Gibson Professor English, says in teh Oct. 20 Boston Globe: “A joke has to feel like it’s overcoming some kind of norm, some kind of inhibition. … I think Republicans are always better at norms and inhibitions than Democrats.”

First of all, let’s assume it’s the editors of the Alumni Review who made the common error of conflating conservativism and Republicanism. The two are far from the same as any conservative disgusted with No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, bailouts, or huge increases to the budgets of every alphabet soup department/agency known to man would be happy to tell you.

But what about Limon’s claim that Republicans are better at norms and inhibitions than Democrats? That’s some good comedy.

Democrats and Republicans both have their norms and inhibitions. It’s just not acceptable at Williams, or with the audience of The Daily Show, to mock political correctness run amok, question Sisyphusian diversity goals, or believe that the challenges our nation faces are so grave that merely electing Obama is not enough to solve them.

The double standards in discourse at a place like Williams are pretty stunning, as I wrote 4 years ago in the Washington Times. David Horowitz paying to place an ad in the Record “subtly censored” members of the Williams Community, but when Hamilton College gave Ward Churchill a university platform to speak from it was part of a commitment to the “free exchange of ideas.” There’s a whole host of norms and inhibitions that exist among Democrats, Liberals, or Ephs. Prof. Limon just finds them less humorous that he does Joe the Plumber.

As for why more jokes are made about Republicans than Democrats? Seems to me that a party who has held either the Presidency or Congress for 26 of the last 28 years is a pretty easy — and in many ways justified — target. And, as the writers of 24 can tell you, the Left is pretty good at subtly censoring voices it finds offensive. And, if subtle censorship doesn’t work, there’s always the Fairness Doctrine to fall back on.

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#1 Comment By jeffz On January 27, 2009 @ 12:14 am

I don’t know Mike, facts are a tricky thing. When right-wingers are stuck with over-the-hill and not all that funny Dennis Miller as the only arguably conservative / right wing comedian who is remotely funny, the fact is that, whatever the reason is (and I don’t pretend to know), conservative comics just aren’t as funny as liberals. No one on the right is remotely close to Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and hordes of other left-leaning comic voices. And believe me, they’ve tried (remember the pathetically bad right-wing Daily Show alternative?). Maybe part of it is that the standard bearers of the liberals are, on the whole, a lot less ridiculous / less mockable than the standard-bearers of the conservatives (Limbaugh, Colter, Hannity, O’Reilly, Palin, Bush — I mean, really, it’s no contest in terms of mockability). But of course it’s more than that — I think that it’s no shock, or shouldn’t be, that a party that has gradually been taken over by the evangelicals (not known for their rollicking sense of humor), and that is increasingly hostile to gays and racial minorities, isn’t all that appealing to the stand up comics of the world …

#2 Comment By Ronit On January 27, 2009 @ 12:54 am

Limon’s statement is completely inaccurate. The best joke of the campaign season, by far, came from the Republicans, when they gave us Sarah Palin. That was hilarious.

Bill Kristol, in particular, deserves some kind of medal for introducing us to Sarah, and reminding us, in the midst of an economic crisis, that it doesn’t hurt to have a good laugh every once in a while. Of course, those humorless liberals at the New York Times responded to this harmless prank by cancelling Kristol’s contract. If that fearless defender of all that is good and right about Western Civilization, David Horowitz, isn’t on the case already, he should be. Kristol is the greatest wit of our age, a veritable 21st-century Mencken, and his satirical art should not be suppressed by the liberal orthodoxies of “political correctness” and “fact-checking” and “proofreading”. Maybe the Moonie Times will sign him up for a weekly humor column?

I just hope Kristol doesn’t have to stoop to the indignity of collecting wingnut welfare by joining Heritage or something.

#3 Comment By Ronit On January 27, 2009 @ 1:03 am

I swear, I didn’t even see that Mike actually linked to a baseless, crazed rant from Heritage when I wrote my comment.

#4 Comment By Alex On January 27, 2009 @ 1:22 am

What in the world was the point of this post? Please, admins, can 95% of ephblog posts not be ridiculous bait? This has almost nothing to do with Williams and everything to do with the author masturbating and telling himself how smart and non-mainstream he is.

Put up meaningful posts– not posts just meant to annoy people or show how unbelievably fucking insightful the writer is. While that might cut down on the number of posts here and make Kane cry, it would make this a much more fun place to visit and not make every prospective student who visits the site think the Williams community is all about arguing for argument’s sake.


#5 Comment By Holly On January 27, 2009 @ 1:29 am

What, Alex, you haven’t had an op-ed published in the Washington Times recently? Chill. There’s nothing wrong with a little balance.

#6 Comment By frank uible On January 27, 2009 @ 4:54 am

Has EphBlog over time become increasingly a platform for political charges and countercharges, or has my old, sad gluteus maximus merely become increasingly tired of it all? Or perhaps both?

#7 Comment By JG On January 27, 2009 @ 6:44 am

@ Holly – “Balance” implies that there are pointless, masturbatory, non-Williams related political rants posted by authors from a liberal perspective that need/deserve to be countered. There aren’t. And if you honestly think that a blog founded and dominated by Dave Kane doesn’t post enough “conservative” viewpoints, you’ve clearly never read the blog. Granted, I’ve never seen your name before as a commenter so you might be uninformed. Poke around, hell you can even count the posts. Mind you, I mean posts and not comments b/c most people don’t both to read the comments so the posts determine the overall feel of the blog.

**BTW, calling this post a “conservative” viewpoint is shorthand – I’d really put it more in the category of just lazy and bitter, but I think conservative might be his intended perspective. I lost count of the “conservative” canards, and actually spit out my coffee at the absolute favorite made-up “controversy” of the Fairness Doctrine. Was this post a joke? Is there really a Mike, or is that just you messing with us Dave?

#8 Comment By Ben Fleming On January 27, 2009 @ 7:59 am

And, as the writers of 24 can tell you, the Left is pretty good at subtly censoring voices it finds offensive.

Will they tell us this while lounging on the pile of cash they’ve earned despite being so censored? Maybe we can catch them before lunch at Spago? Alas, if only the Left hadn’t gotten “24” canceled all those times or had its Emmy wins rescinded, the War on Terror might already be over.

And yes, the crazed rant on the Fairness Doctrine is exactly that. It’s about as likely to be law as Jose Serrano’s bill to repeal the 22nd Amendment. Which isn’t to say you won’t hear about both on talk radio all the time. In case you didn’t know, the Democrat Party is trying to appoint Obama King for Life, and they’ll do so by taking away your Hannity. BUY GOLD NOW!

#9 Comment By rory On January 27, 2009 @ 10:02 am

*follows new year’s resolution to not take bait*

#10 Comment By sophmom On January 27, 2009 @ 10:43 am


That’s not proper bait. That’s just a platter of sour grapes.

And where I come from, serving them up is considered cheap and in bad taste.

#11 Comment By frank uible On January 27, 2009 @ 1:15 pm

Persuading a politico to assume balance is like teaching the social graces to a tyrannosaurus rex.

#12 Comment By Aidan On January 27, 2009 @ 4:42 pm

I’d much rather watch a show about how liberals infiltrated Fox and insinuated sleeper agents on the 24 writing staff in order to sabotage the show from the inside, making each season vastly more incoherent and silly than the past, then whatever crap they’re serving up on Monday nights now…such a “day” would pretty entertaining and meta, if you can still enjoy such things post 9/11.