An Addendum to John Wilson’s Post on Provocative Comedy and Campus Culture

ACADEME BLOG

John Wilson’s post on comedians who have been critical of college audiences is a terrific essay–one of the most incisively perceptive pieces on any topic that I have read this year.

I would humbly add just a couple of observations of my own to the discussion that John’s essay should provoke.

Provocative figures, including provocative comedians, have to evolve as the reactions that they provoke actually have an impact. This is part of what has happened with the use of the “n” word by African American comedians. When many people were using the word in a racially charged way, claiming the word in order to give it some very different associations made a certain sense. But once the use of the word began to be socially and culturally stigmatized except on the racist lunatic fringe, the use of the “n” word by African American comedians and singers started to seem…

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