The Corner

The Last Laugh

John J Miller started the day here in The Corner with the story of Professor Robert Klein Engler, who was fired from Roosevelt University and only discovered why two months later. It was for telling a joke:

A group of sociologists did a poll in Arizona regarding the state’s new immigration law. Sixty percent said they were in favor, and 40 percent said, ‘No hablo Ingles.’

For NR last year I wrote a “Happy Warrior” column about Milan Kundera’s first novel, about a loyal Party member in newly Communist Czechoslovakia with a great future ahead of him who makes one mistake: He makes a joke, and his life is ruined. He’s expelled from the Party and his university, and sent to work in the mines.

I first read The Joke as a schoolboy, when we thought such deranged scenarios were confined to the Warsaw Pact. I re-read it on the flight to Vancouver, the day before the British Columbia “Human Rights” Tribunal devoted the best part of a day’s court proceedings to hearing testimony from “expert witnesses” on the “tone” of my jokes. Fresh from that triumph, the BC HRT then convicted and fined Guy Earle, a stand-up comedian who committed the hitherto unknown crime of putting down a lesbian heckler homophobically. At the time of my NR column, I was writing about Dr. Lazar Greenfield, president-elect of the American College of Surgeons, whose career came to a sudden end after he wrote a light-hearted Valentine’s Day piece for Surgery News on the health benefits for women of semen. Although right on the facts, he offended the tender sensitivities of his feminist colleagues, and his decades of illustrious service availed him naught. Like Kundera’s protagonist, Dr. Greenfield had made an ideologically unsound joke, and was disappeared: Surgery News wound up pulping the entire issue.

And now we have Professor Engler. As I wrote in NR:

As a waggish adolescent, I liked the absurdity of the situation in which Ludvik finds himself. Later, I came to appreciate Kundera had skewered the touchiness of totalitarianism, and the consequential loss of any sense of proportion.

We are not yet a totalitarian society, but the touchiness of America’s wretched academy is certainly providing a fine pilot program.

Mark Steyn — Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

Most Popular

Immigration

Angela Rye Knows You’re Racist

The political philosopher Michael Oakeshott said that the “rationalist” is hopelessly lost in ideology, captivated by the world of self-contained coherence he has woven from strands of human experience. He concocts a narrative about narratives, a story about stories, and adheres to the “large outline which ... Read More
Immigration

What the Viral Border-Patrol Video Leaves Out

In an attempt to justify Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s absurd comparison of American detention facilities to Holocaust-era concentration camps, many figures within the media have shared a viral video clip of a legal hearing in which a Department of Justice attorney debates a panel of judges as to what constitutes ... Read More
Film & TV

Murder Mystery: An Old Comedy Genre Gets Polished Up

I  like Adam Sandler, and yet you may share the sense of trepidation I get when I see that another of his movies is out. He made some very funny manboy comedies (Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy) followed by some not-so-funny manboy comedies, and when he went dark, in Reign over Me and Funny People, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Making Sense of the Iran Chaos

One would prefer that correct decisions be made according to careful, deliberate plan. But a correct decision made impulsively, through a troubling process, is still nonetheless correct, and so it is with Donald Trump’s decision to refrain from military action against Iran. The proposed strike would represent a ... Read More