Op-ed pick: Why no one should be off-limits from jokes

Are we too careful with comedy these days?

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele think so. The stars of a namesake show on Comedy Central wrote an op-ed for TIME’s Ideas Issue arguing that American TV and movies are timid.

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Today it seems that we live in a world of extremes. On one end of the spectrum, we have anonymous Internet trolls looking for opportunities to dole out cruelty with impunity. But in mainstream culture, it often seems we’re drowning in a sea of political correctness that lapped up on our shores a couple of decades ago and has yet to recede.

You may think nothing is lost if we don’t hear jokes about folks with disabilities or the differences between races or whatever we find uncomfortable to discuss in polite company, but Key and Peele argue that something is lost.

To not make fun of something is, we believe, itself a form of bullying. When a humorist makes the conscious decision to exclude a group from derision, isn’t he or she implying that the members of that group are not capable of self-reflection? Or don’t possess the mental faculties to recognize the nuances of satire? A group that’s excluded never gets the opportunity to join in the greater human conversation.

Key and Peele say they “make fun of everything” and that’s a good thing. Read their column here and watch clips from their show here. Note: I make no guarantee that these are safe viewing for work.