I’m a sucker for Harambe jokes.
Given the media’s insanely myopic focus on the sad death of a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, the Internet’s hysterical memeing surrounding Harambe appeals to both my absurdist and dark-humor sides (see, for example, the inclusion of Harambe on a list of celebrities tragically lost in 2016, alongside Prince and David Bowie). So imagine my dismay when I learned this week that UMass–Amherst would be depriving its students of the joys of Harambe jokes on the grounds that such jokes offend black people and women.
How would jokes about Harambe fighting Cecil the Lion in heaven offend black students? According to the resident advisers at UMass–Amherst, because Harambe the gorilla shares a name with the Harambee African Heritage Student Community, all jokes regarding Harambe the gorilla must be banned — which is somewhat like saying that all jokes about Anthony Weiner must be banned at the University of Maryland in order to avoid offending the students at the Norbert Wiener Center for Harmonic Analysis and Application. Here are the RAs: “Any negative remarks regarding ‘Harambe’ will be seen as a direct attack to our campus’s African American community.”
Which is absurd. Everyone loves Harambe.
How, then, would Harambe jokes offend female students? The more immature Harambe memesters have utilized the phrase “d***s out for Harambe,” a bizarrely silly bit of blue hilarity that calls on Americans to signal their support for Harambe by exposing their genitals. Here are the RAs again: “using . . . . phrases/hashtags which encourage the exposition of body parts runs the risk of being reported as a Title IX incident.” First off, nobody should worry too deeply about the “exposition” of body parts — presumably “exposure” would be more problematic. But more than that, anyone who thinks that “d***s out for Harambe” creates a rape culture in violation of federal law needs his or her head examined.
Meanwhile, at California State University of Los Angeles — the same campus that attempted to ban me from speaking earlier this year, then hosted a near-riot when I showed up anyway — black students have been granted their own segregated housing. This, presumably, does not violate any community standards.
This is the new rule on America’s college campuses, and indeed, in public life: If you’re a member of a protected class, anything that offends you must be excised; anything that pleases you must be deemed perfectly acceptable.
Such logic springs from the leftist ideology behind an infamous footnote to a 1938 Supreme Court case, United States v. Carolene Products Company. In that case, Justice Harlan Stone went out of his way to explain in Footnote 4 that the Court could strike down any law motivated by “prejudice against discrete and insular minorities.” While the footnote had no relevance to the case itself and represented a mere dictum, that didn’t stop the Court, over ensuing decades, from using it as the basis for an entire bulk of Constitution-free constitutional law.
In a world in which protected classes rule the roost rather than protected rights, there is no rule of law, just rule of the privileged.
The phraseology here was peculiar but instructive: Stone didn’t seek to bar lawmaking that violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, for example. Instead, he set up a framework designed to discriminate based upon membership in a protected class. In other words, the Fourteenth Amendment, guaranteeing “equal protection of the laws,” was insufficient, in Stone’s view, to stop racism; instead, racism could be stopped only by focusing on the suffering of chosen minorities. Racial discrimination, in this view, could not be discriminatory so long as it favored discrete and insular minorities; state-sponsored racism in violation of the Constitution that benefitted blacks was not really racism — racism only existed as a facet of white power.
This is precisely the perspective of today’s modern Left, which sees only protected classes — discrete and insular minorities — as worthy of protection. Everyone else’s rights become secondary to the suffering of those protected classes. Thus, DePaul University can ban conservative speakers — certainly, a discrete and insular minority on campus — from talking about racial issues without facing serious charges of discrimination, then hold a leftist-only speaker series focused on race relations; in the leftist view, inviting radical black leftists like Michael Eric Dyson (welcomed to DePaul) while banning speakers like me (on the grounds that leftist students might have their feelings hurt) doesn’t represent discrimination at all. This is why Professor Marc Lamont Hill of Morehouse College told CNN after a black racist murdered eleven white cops in Dallas, “Black people don’t have the institutional power to be racist or to deploy racism.”
#related#In a world in which protected classes rule the roost rather than protected rights, there is no rule of law, just rule of the privileged. Ironically, the discrete and insular minorities Justice Stone sought to protect from harm have become the very groups capable of imposing their vision of the universe on everyone else. And the Left celebrates, because their true goal is the destruction of the society originally built by the non-protected classes — the people who utilized their influence and power to create the system the Left wishes to tear down.
Few people get hurt when Harambe jokes are shot down by school administrators. But our broader culture suffers when protected classes have veto power over rights on the basis of sensitivity.