Several universities in Australia have brilliantly put a ban in place to protect students from the life-threatening dangers of sarcasm.
In an interview on Sky News, Gideon Rozner, the Director of Policy at the Institute of Public Affairs, said that the majority of Australian Universities are hostile to free speech and that only one university respects free speech. He added that several universities ban sarcasm because “it’s a form of violence.”
Rozner goes on to mock this ban, but how dare he? University students — even if they are adults — are clearly not capable of handling such language. Universities are for learning, not irony, mockery, or comedy. Shame on him.
According to the Institute of Public Affairs’ Free Speech on Campus Audit 2017, the University of Queensland, Western Sydney University, and Charles Sturt University all ban sarcasm, and their anguish is palpable and justifiably overwrought. We must protect the feelings of students as we prepare them to go into the real world, where they will certainly be shielded from harsh language or distasteful humor.
Both the Charles Sturt University and the University of Queensland include “sarcasm” in their bullying policies, lumping it together with ridicule. Western Sydney University includes “sarcasm’” in its guide about how to identify potentially aggressive behaviors and warns to “be careful with humour and sarcasm” when trying to use proper “netiquette” (politeness on the internet).
Students need to understand: a Western country that holds progressive, liberal values must disdain such harmful rhetoric. Free speech has its limits. As we all know, nothing in life is truly free, and speech is no freaking exception.
In fact, all American universities should adopt this policy. Banning conservative speakers from campus, the American flag, proselytization, and the words “illegal,” “male,” and “female” is a necessary step if we are to avoid the callous and brutal kinds of interactions that leave students shredded into a barely perceptible shadow of a human being.
I ask, what kind of a person would resort to sarcasm when confronted by genuine idiocy rather than act conciliatory, offer their deepest and most sincere apologies if they say anything offensive, and generally bow and scrape before those peddling something that is patently insane? My goodness, what kind of world would tolerate the sarcasm and wit of Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, William F. Buckley, and others whose jesting can be quoted for centuries?
As the Bard wrote, “He jests at scars that never felt a wound.” Have those practicing sarcasm never felt a wound. If we prick them, do they not bleed?
It is high time for those who use sarcasm and ridicule to mend their ways, and strive to be better people. The kind of people who refuse to poke fun at others, the kind of people whose saintly behavior can bring a new, gentler world. The kind of people who can ignore the patently ridiculous when they see it, and act like the citizens did when they closed their eyes as the fabled emperor of fiction rode through the streets with no clothes.
For goodness’ sake, there’s so much room for improvement.