This week on Real Time with Bill Maher, the topic turned once again to Seinfeld’s now infamous commentary on college campuses being too PC, and Maher took a young college student to task for his opinions on the matter. The student who had written an “open letter” to Jerry Seinfeld that was published by Huffington Post. Bill Maher, in turn, called the young writer a “little shit” and composed his own open letter back.
Anthony Barteaux’s open letter, which you can read in it’s entirety here, states that he was disheartened by Seinfeld’s comments, and defended “pc” college students. “As college students who are engaged in a myriad of social, economic, and political issues,” he wrote,”it’s our duty to be actively engaged and educated about issues of sexism, racism and prejudice.”
But it was what followed that got under Maher’s skin, as Barteaux’s letter proceeded to try to define what he felt was acceptable comedy, saying “comedy in our progressive society today can no longer afford to be crass, or provocative for the sake of being offensive. Sexist humor and racist humor can no longer exist in comedy because these concepts are based on archaic ideals that have perpetrated injustice against minorities in the past.” He added that “provocative humor, such as ones dealing with topics of race and gender politics, can be crass and vulgar, but underlying it must be a context that spurs social dialogue about these respective issues. There needs to be a message, a central truth behind comedy for it to work as humor.”
The letter continues with an analysis of the comedy of Todd Glass, Amy Schumer, George Carlin, and Louis C.K., and why he finds their brands of offensive comedy to be a-ok.
Maher responded, saying as stupid as he may have been when he was 20, “I wouldn’t have presumed to lecture George Carlin on comedy.” Maher wrote his own letter back to Barteaux, that began “Dear you little shit.” He continued, “I’m sure you’re busy with your new letter explaining astrophysics to Stephen Hawking and giving jump shot pointers to Steph Curry, but try to get a clue.”
Maher explained that offensive jokes are okay, “because everyone gets made fun of for something and its never 100% fair.”