Humor, Sensitivity, and Free Speech in the world today
This book was started in lockdown during the Trump presidency in America in response to the divisive racial and gender politics and its effects on free speech and societal harmony in this country and elsewhere in the world.
Free speech is under threat all over the world. Yet we need free speech more than ever so we can look at solutions to the many challenges facing the planet today.
We also look at different social identity groups from a free speech perspective from my home country of Trinidad where the phrase "shit to sugar" was born. There is a lot of "shit talk" in this book. However, while we look critically at many of the various sensitive groups in modern society, we do so with love.
The PREP approach to Micro-Aggressions & Trigger Words
We developed a conversational tool called PREP which is personal responsibility engendering personal politeness. PREP allows people to communicate freely based on personal sensitivity rather than being offended on behalf of a group.
When we separate the personal from the ‘tribal’, it becomes easier to have honest conversations. It is humble and polite to say you’re personally offended. It is the height of ego to be offended on behalf of a certain group whether you are from that group or not.
This can be more challenging if you are not from the group being joked about, yet being offended based on your perceived feelings and sensitivities of that group.
Free Speech with JISC: Jokes, Ignorance, Stereotypes, Criticism
- Jokes. If a person makes a joke at the expense of another’s demographic it can be deemed as prejudiced but is not necessarily so. (What about if the joke is really funny?)
- Ignorance. If a person makes a comment that shows complete ignorance of another’s demographic it can be deemed as prejudiced but is not necessarily so. (You would be surprised at how little people know about each other.)
- Stereotypes. If a person points out a stereotypical pattern of another’s demographic it can be deemed as prejudiced but is not necessarily so. (And what if a stereotype whether positive or negative, has merit?)
- Criticism. If a person criticizes some aspect of another’s demographic it can be deemed as prejudiced but is not necessarily so. (What if there is some truth to the criticism?)
Negative Intent versus Negative Impact
An important key that defines prejudice is negative intent. Of course, negative intent is hard to prove. However, as we get to know people we can easily ascertain their intent if they continue to make comments that are critical, joking, or show ignorance of a demographic group.
This book is politically incorrect with criticisms and compliments handed out liberally to the various social and cultural identities that make up our world today. However, it is light hearted, and solution oriented.
In the book is our full bibliography but here are a few of the many sources used for the book. Though it's monopolistic power is disturbing, Youtube is the default educational system for almost anything. In recognition of that we have included Youtube interviews with reputable academics, intellectuals and influencers that helped to shake this book.
- "Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity—and Why This Harms Everybody" By Helen Pluckrose and James A. Lindsay. John Anderson Interview. Youtube. Dec 16, 2020
- New Rule – Learn How to Take a Joke. Real Time with Bill Maher: HBO, Youtube. Jun 20, 2015
Opinion: The welcome pushback against campus wokeness — coming from colleges themselves. By John Avlon. CNN. April 26, 2023