“Jump the shark” is an American pop-culture expression that derives from a 1977 “Happy Days” sitcom episode and describes a moment of decline. At a certain point, a TV show becomes so predictable, empty of ideas and gimmicky that in desperation its writers will try anything — like the character “The Fonz” jumping over a shark on water skis — just to keep on the air.
Contemporary protesters have reached that moment, when demonstrations exist for demonstrations’ sake, without any consistent or coherent agenda of dissent.
At a recent forum on political correctness at the University of Massachusetts, three invited guest speakers were shouted down by protesters in the audience. A video of one shouter went viral. In the manner of a 2-year-old, she threw a loud temper tantrum, interrupting the speakers, screaming obscenities and yelling, “Keep your hate speech off this campus!”
How does one stop “hate speech” by bellowing out four-letter obscenities to disrupt free expression at a university? The childish protester then proved that she had jumped the shark when she finished by screaming, “Stop treating us like children!”
At an earlier protest at Yale, one particularly emotional student jumped the shark by cursing at a faculty member whose crime was advising students not to overreact to the childish Halloween costumes that other students would be wearing.
Protesters have a right to object to Donald Trump’s various crudities, as long as they do so peacefully and respect the right of free speech. But recently, disrupters at a Trump rally in California likewise jumped the shark when some waved the flag of Mexico or bore placards with slogans such as “Make America Mexico Again.” If the protest was directed against Trump’s pledges to deport undocumented immigrants to Mexico, then it made little sense to celebrate the country to which protesters did not wish immigrants to return, or to suggest that immigrants’ new home should become identical to the old home that they had chosen to leave.
At the University of Missouri last year, protesters demanded concessions from the university. In a public area, assistant communications professor Melissa Click called for “some muscle” to manhandle a student journalist who was trying to photograph a public demonstration. Click might as well have put on water skis and jumped a plastic shark. A right-wing cartoonist could not have dreamed up a sillier scenario, with a faculty member from a university’s communications department trying to have a student reporter physically blocked from covering a news story in a free-speech zone.Read the rest of Victor Davis Hanson's op-ed HERE.
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