I decided to enjoy the Windy City at its best by taking in a performance of the famous Chicago comedy group, Second City. As a libertarian, I am just about as socially liberal as they come. No stranger to liberal comics and a regular to the DC Improv, I’ll laugh at just about anything from the most sophisticated political humor down to the lowest-brow fart joke. I attended a performance of the Second City tonight in a good mood and with no expectations. Sadly, I walked out during intermission.
The material for the Second City is cut-and-pasted from the hard-line liberal platform and every punch line was a sarcastic stab at anyone who did not devoutly subscribe. Unless you agree point-for-point with the official Democratic agenda, be prepared at a Second City show to either feel personally attacked or to repress your feelings and laugh along for the good of the show. The actors don’t simply poke fun at those with different political or philosophical viewpoints; rather, they gang up like insecure fifth graders against the kid who looks different.
I’d been sensing a certain repressed anger throughout the show’s otherwise witty routines but attempted to find humor where possible. Then came the actors’ bit about gun control, an over-the-top tribute to sarcasm called “More.” Their point, in essentially these exact words, was that supporting private gun ownership was akin to believing that unprotected promiscuous sex would prevent AIDS. In other words, it was an entire bit shamelessly proclaiming that people who supported gun ownership were Grade-A Morons.
First, let me say I both respect their opinion as well as their right to express it (although wish I hadn’t paid to hear their opinions). Second, yes: I do own a gun. Not because I believe that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees it. Not because I think that the world is a better place with guns. Not because I believe that more violence is prevented by guns than is caused. But rather because there are a lot of crazies out there and I frankly feel safer with a gun than without one.
My concern is not that there aren’t compelling arguments against gun ownership. There are; and if I could live in a world without any guns – including possession by criminals and governments – I would. My concern is instead that the New Liberal, played by the Second City actors, isn’t remotely interested in the discussion.
An open and respectful conversation would reveal that gun ownership sometimes causes violence and sometimes it prevent violence, but the New Liberal is not interested in considering evidence or respecting the opinions of dissenters; instead he would rather shut down discussion with the same brute force tactics learned on elementary school playgrounds: bullying and name-calling.
There was a time when being liberal meant opening one’s heart and one’s mind. For example, the 1960’s young liberal, worried about the senseless violence in Vietnam, wanted to start discussions. Not anymore. The tide has shifted, and now being liberal seems to be about empowering sarcastic pseudo-intellectual haters. The New Liberal wants to end discussion.
My diatribe against the New Liberal has nothing to do with her viewpoints; I would (and do) take issue with all closed-mindedness. What especially exasperates me is that the liberal agenda prides itself in open-mindedness while actually proliferating in an exclusive intellectual commune where it’s OK to denigrate anyone who doesn’t share the same political zeal.
If the Second City’s passive-aggressive routines were merely retaliation for years of oppressive social conservatism, I would understand and even empathize. Unfortunately, all of the Second City actors are too young to know or understand the oppression that their predecessors experienced – i.e., their hatefulness is not organic. Rather, their stage seems to be nothing more than carte blanche for intellectual bullies to be abusive at profit. They are very talented actors, no doubt, but not very funny. Racist jokes were profitable twenty years ago. Homophobia was profitable even a decade ago. Let us, as a society, stop patronizing those who profit from stepping on others. Second City is, quite simply, second rate.