February 3, 2016 – 11:40 am

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John Cleese says political correctness has gone too far, especially on America’s college campuses, where he will no longer go to perform. Cleese, having worked with psychiatrist Robin Skynner, says there may even be something more sinister behind the insistence to be always politically correct.

John Cleese: I’m offended every day. For example, the British newspapers every day offend me with their laziness, their nastiness, and their inaccuracy, but I’m not going to expect someone to stop that happening; I just simply speak out about it. Sometimes when people are offended they want - you can just come in and say, “Right, stop that,” to whoever it is offending them. And, of course, as a former chairman of the BBC once said, “There are some people who I would wish to offend.” And I think there’s truth in that too. So the idea that you have to be protected from any kind of uncomfortable emotion is what I absolutely do not subscribe to.

And a fellow who I helped write two books about psychology and psychiatry was a renowned psychiatrist in London called Robin Skynner who said something very interesting to me. He said, “If people can’t control their own emotions, then they have to start trying to control other people’s behavior.” And when you’re around super-sensitive people, you cannot relax and be spontaneous because you have no idea what’s going to upset them next.

And that’s why I’ve been warned recently don’t go to most university campuses because the political correctness has been taken from being a good idea, which is let’s not be mean in particular to people who are not able to look after themselves very well - that’s a good idea - to the point where any kind of criticism or any individual or group could be labeled cruel.

And the whole point about humor, the whole point about comedy, and believe you me I’ve thought about this, is that all comedy is critical. Even if you make a very inclusive joke like how would you make God laugh? Answer: Tell him your plans.

Now that’s about the human condition; it’s not excluding anyone. It’s saying we all have all these plans, which probably won’t come and isn’t it funny how we still believe they’re going to happen. So that’s a very inclusive joke. It’s still critical. All humor is critical. If you start to say, “We mustn’t; we mustn’t criticize or offend them,” then humor is gone. With humor goes a sense of proportion. And then as far as I’m concerned, you’re living in 1984.

Watch the short video here.

Note: Actor, comedian and writer John Cleese is a member of Monty Python; and is remembered for Fawlty Towers; Q in the latter James Bond movies; and Nearly Headless Nick in the Harry Potter movies.

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  2. Neil Gaiman said something interesting about ‘political correctness’ which has become distorted through over or mis-use IMHO

    “I was reading a book (about interjections, oddly enough) yesterday which included the phrase “In these days of political correctness…” talking about no longer making jokes that denigrated people for their culture or for the colour of their skin. And I thought, “That’s not actually anything to do with ‘political correctness’. That’s just treating other people with respect.”

    Which made me oddly happy. I started imagining a world in which we replaced the phrase “politically correct” wherever we could with “treating other people with respect”, and it made me smile.

    You should try it. It’s peculiarly enlightening.

    I know what you’re thinking now. You’re thinking “Oh my god, that’s treating other people with respect gone mad!””

    We should all strive to be wrong?

    By swappers on Feb 5, 2016

  3. All in the family, The Jeffersons, Good times,Sanford and son,Chico and the man would never make it on air today nor would the Dean Martin Roasts, Smothers Brothers or Laugh in cant even say merry christmas for fear that someone will take it the wrong way Ethnic humor was everywhere back then and few were offended, nowdays everyone is so sensitive about everything. Hypocritical in the sense that people treat each other worse than ever before in the things that really matter,more violence terrorism and social injustice than ever and we are more concerned about the names of sports teams and being afraid of the word Christmas,Where have you gone Richard Pryor

    By COREY M on Feb 6, 2016

  4. political correctness….yuppie jargon that became law

    By Leigh Palfrey on Feb 6, 2016

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