Will Aziz Ansari Be Allowed to Say ‘Sissies’ at Yale?

January 12, 2010

Comedian Aziz Ansari (Funny People; Parks and Recreation) has accepted an invitation from Yale University’s Yale College Council to perform at Yale on January 30, 2010.

This normally wouldn’t be FIRE news, but now that Yale College Dean Mary Miller has declared editorial control over the student government (the Freshman Class Council in particular), this is a matter of concern. Will Ansari be informed that it is "not acceptable" for him to use the word "sissies" (or, presumably, similar words) in a negative way towards anyone? Dean Miller seems to say so.

Perhaps this is why at Yale, even a performance by a comedian must be put in context so as to undo the damage that might be done to fragile Yale students’ sensibilities. As today’s Yale Daily News reports:

this year’s event will also be preceded by a question and answer session with the comedian. The discussion will be part of the Intercultural Affairs Council’s series on humor and diversity.

An earlier event in the series screened some Dave Chappelle skits:

"WHAT’S SO FUNNY?" HUMOR AND DIVERSITY SERIES. This event will look at and analyze the skits that made Dave Chappelle famous. What was Chappelle trying to say about social, cultural, and political life in America? What was funny about his skits? Were they funny at all? Come watch, laugh, and share your perspective! […]

So, it’s okay to show Dave Chappelle skits under the aegis of Student Affairs at Yale, but not okay to print T-shirts that describe Harvard students as "sissies"? Good luck to the Yale College Council as it tries to figure out what Yale will let Aziz Ansari say onstage.

Schools:  Yale University

Cases:  Yale University: Controversial Anti-Harvard T-shirt Quoting F. Scott Fitzgerald