03/15/2019

The Speech Police Come For Tucker Carlson

Bubba Clem, The Wall Street Journal

I host a comedy-driven radio show for guys. Until Sunday, no one confused it with something that should be taken seriously. Given my on-air name, “Bubba the Love Sponge,” I assume most people get the joke. We are rude, sometimes profane.

Tucker Carlson called into my satellite radio show regularly from 2006-11, and like all my guests, he adopted an edgy comic persona for the broadcast. He said really naughty things to make my audience laugh, and they did. The 100 or so shows we made with Mr. Carlson weren’t a secret. 

Do I really need to go into the rich history of insult comedy? Lisa Lampanelli, Andrew Dice Clay, Rodney Dangerfield, even Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog. Comedy breaks taboo subjects that release the unspoken into the air in ways that are, dare I say, funny.

To be sure, we say really mean things on my radio show, and we laugh instead of getting mad. Why do we allow things to be said in comedy that wouldn’t be acceptable elsewhere? Believe it or not, scientists have studied comedy for an answer, and they found one. It’s called benign violation. We laugh when social norms are exceeded—the violation. But it’s not permanently harmful—it’s benign. No one called into my show authentically outraged about what Mr. Carlson said—not once—because everyone knew we were goofing in the spirit of the show.

To understand the mood of today, the only name you need to know is Lenny Bruce. A brilliant and shocking comic, Bruce was arrested over and over for obscenity—jailed for saying the wrong words. In New York he was convicted and died before his appeal could be heard. 

Mr. Carlson is being smeared by a new generation of speech police for a new crime—refusing to give in to a small group of political activists who love all forms of “diversity” except of political thought. [Subscription]

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