Noam Chomsky interviewed by Penn Jillette

Penn and Teller: Bullshit!, May 30, 2005

PENN (VO): But why would colleges want to use diversity and speech codes to minimize free speech?

HOROWITZ: When the left got into power, it closed the door behind them.

HOROWITZ (introducing himself): David Horowitz, Students for Academic Freedom.org.

PENN (VO): Get ’em, Dave!

PENN (VO): Horowitz has made it his mission to take on universities that he believes infringe on students rights through a political agenda.

HOROWITZ: The university has been redefined from being an institution dedicated to the disinterested pursuit of knowledge to an institution for social change. That’s a definition of political party.

PENN: And which party? Well, it sure ain’t the libertarians, the Whigs, or the Cornbread-Sucking-Uncle-Tom Party. Who does that leave?

FLYNN: A lot of universities have served as sort of a training ground for leftists.

PENN (VO): [over shot of previous leftist interviewee] No!

FLYNN (introducing): Dan Flynn, author, Intellectual Morons

PENN (VO): According to Dan and a shitload of statistics, American academia is run by the Democratic Party.

FLYNN: If you look at the surveys done of the political affiliations of college professors, the Rocky Mountain News had it 31 to 1 Democrats to Republican at the University of Colorado. Similar surveys at Dartmouth, at Cornell it’s 25 to 1, at UNC Chapel Hill 10 Democrats to every 1 republican, Stanford 9 to 1. If you look at the history departments of these five schools combined, there were 137 Democrats and just 3 Republicans. The Kremlin was more diverse than that.

PENN (VO): [over shaky outside shot of the Stata Center] If we were going to find out why, we realized we had to go to the top, to the college professor considered by many to be the smartest man in

academia: Noam Chomsky. [shot of “32-D808: Department of Linguistics and Philosophy Headquarters” door] [shot of old news footage of Chomsky surrounded by reporters] Chomsky teaches linguistics at MIT, he’s a fawned-over cultural hero of the left, due to his protests of the Vietnam War and virtually every action of the United States since.

So at first reading, he sounds like someone we’d like! Vietnam was _way_ American bullshit.

[shot of man standing in front of a whiteboard in what might be Noam’s office] How the fuck do we get Noam Chomsky on our show? [Chomsky walks into the room, the door is shut behind him]

MAN: Hi, Professor Chomsky. [shakes hands]

PENN (VO): We told him we’d introduce him to Kirstie Alley. [shot of cameras and interview set up as Chomsky shakes another man’s hand] Smartest man in academia, my achin’ ass. He fell for it! [Chomsky waves to camera]

MAN: So is there any validity to the claim by some that campuses have become bastions of leftist groupthink brainwashing?

CHOMSKY: [smiling] Campuses have become — what was the phrase? — campuses have become…

MAN: Bastions of leftwing groupthink brainwashing.

CHOMSKY: I suppose you can find maybe 2% of people on campus of whom that might be true.

PENN: 2%?! What the hell is Noam talking about? After all we’ve shown:

that Minnesota college, the statistics, and he admits to only 2%? 2% is the number of people who like peanut butter on their pizza. 2% is the number of people who wear Star Trek underwear. [looks at Teller, who nods] Chomsky wasn’t being upfront with us. And come to think of it, why would he be? Our show is called Bullshit! And he’s supposed to be the smartest man in academia. He can’t show his cards right away.

Better to keep everyone unsuspecting. Huh-huh, the slippery bastard.

PENN (VO): [over shot of Chomsky smiling broadly] Just look at him, wearing that crafty smile and that nonthreatening sweater. He’s ruthless, goddamnit! Good thing our crew packs heat.

PENN (VO): Now it’s one thing to nail the dumbest guy in academia, but what about the man they call the smartest? Back at MIT, we asked Dr.

Chomsky about speech codes and the First Amendment.

PENN: He defends speech codes by citing the example of puting up a Nazi poster in your bedroom:

CHOMSKY: My freedom of speech doesn’t extend that far. And there’s something analogous that happens in a college. The kinds of speech, behavior, various actions that take place are entering into the home of the student.

PENN: Notice how he slipped in that word home.

CHOMSKY: It’s their home now. The college environment is _their home_.

PENN: Noam would be right if the college was 100% private. But the ones we’re talking about just aren’t.

MAN: What do you think of Erica Halverson?

CHOMSKY: Don’t know who it is.

PENN (VO): Your loss, Noam. [shot of Erica Halverson, a girl-on-the-street from early in the show, dancing]