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It's worse than Jerry Seinfeld says: PC is undermining free speech, expression ... - Salon

When Joan Rivers died aged eighty-one in September 2014, tributes poured in for the American comedy legend. To judge by events of the previous months, however, not everybody would have been quite so sad to hear of her passing. Shortly before she died Rivers had been bitterly attacked not only for her caustic and politically incorrect expressions of support for Israel’s air-strikes on Gaza – ‘If New Jersey was firing rockets into New York, we would wipe them out’ – but also for telling the wrong kind of jokes involving race, sexuality and much else. (Asked whether she thought there would ever be a gay president, she told the TV reporter that there already was, since ‘Michelle’s a tranny.’) Worse, her offensive jokes tended to be funny.

When Rivers criticized Justin Bieber’s ‘gangsta’ dress sense on her TV show Fashion Police in August 2014, just a month before her death, it was hard to know which caused more outrage – what she said or the fact that others laughed out loud at it. ‘That little bitch gets on my nerves,’ Rivers said of Bieber. ‘You are not a big black thug, you are just like your shoes – ordinary and completely white.’ The reverse-Voltaires went quickly into action online, and Village People veteran Victor Willis made headlines by apparently tweeting for many: ‘What Joan Rivers said is no laughing matter. It’s Racist and she has a history of this. Time to shut her down. What say you?’ When death finally managed to shut her down just weeks later, there was much smug and charmless talk of ‘karma’ on social media sites.

What some of us say is that Joan Rivers’s great quality was her insistence that nothing ought to be beyond a joke. In contrast to the ‘shut-it-down’ lobby, she believed that there was no such thing as ‘no laughing matter.’ In this she stood in the great tradition of subversive comedians. Unlike many alleged comedians who are coming after her, she also understood that simply trying to be offensive is not enough –...

Source: www.salon.com

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