Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Fight, Fight, and Bad Judgment II

To continue my thoughts in yesterday's post, why is it OK for a person like Sacha Baron Cohen or Mel Brooks to use blatant racial stereotypes as a means of satire, but it is not OK for college students to have a party where they show up in blackface?

1. The movie audience is in on the joke, while the joke is on the bigot. Not so for the college party, where the butt of the joke is the minority.

2. It is possible to deftly use comedy and wit in the controlled environment of a book, play, or movie. When you simply invite people to show up at a party in offensive costumes, it is not satire. Each person will have his own motive for attending the party.

That said, the colleges involved should stay away from any discipline or new initiative to combat this trend. The students obviously know that it is offensive (that was the point), so sensitivity training would be wrong. Unfortunately, there is no standardized test or high school transcript that can measure good judgment.

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