Some Belated Thoughts on the Pedagogy of Lewd Jokes

Justin E. H. Smith in his own blog:

6a00d83453bcda69e2019affd45e49970d-350wiI have, up until now, mostly held back my views on l'affaire McGinn, which shook the philosophy community in the United States some months ago. But there comes a point when discretion starts to feel uncomfortably similar to cowardice, and this is a moral failure I would like to avoid even more than the consternation of my peers.

I don't really want to discuss McGinn himself. I want to discuss the response to the affair offered by Louise Antony in a New York Times 'Stone' piece of September 5, 2013, entitled “Academia's Fog of Male Anxiety.” In particular, I want to respond to the suggestion that 'lewd conversation', including not least doubles entendres about handjobs, can be eliminated from the repertoire of possible topics of discussion between professors and students without any danger of compromising the educational experience.

We sometimes hear grumblings about an encroaching Stalinism in academia, where good folk are rubbed out of memory for failing to follow, in every respect, the party line. This does not get it right, and indeed goes much too far. The current era is not Stalinist, but Brezhnevite: where dull-minded, rule-loving functionaries move in to manage the legacy of a glorious revolution.

To continue the analogy, I declare that I remain loyal to what I take to be the core principles of the revolution in question –the sexual revolution–, which had already begun to degenerate by the time I was born, and which in the broad sense in which I understand it began long before the era of rock-and-roll, and includes, inter alia, the life-affirming effulgences of the Montanan libertine Mary MacLane, and Walt Whitman's celebration of his own beard and musk and semen: of his own infinite desire and his freedom to express it in words.

I believe lewd jokes are a crucial part of what brings joy in life, and I believe the sexual revolution was important in enabling people in free societies to seize this joy.

More here.