May 16, 2015 – Actor, comedian and musician, Ed Helms, delivered the commencement address at the University of Virginia yesterday, and between the punchy jokes, the multi-hypehante landed some heavyweight and thoughtful blows on a variety of topics ranging from the Rolling Stone rape story to the recent events in Baltimore.
“It has been said that a rolling stone gathers no moss,” Helms told the sea of graduates. “I would add that sometimes a rolling stone also gathers no verifiable facts or even the tiniest morsels of journalistic integrity. Rolling Stone tried to define you this year. As a result, not only was this community thrown deep into turmoil, but the incredibly important struggle to address sexual violence on campuses nationwide was suddenly more confusing than ever and needlessly set back.”
“Sadly, Rolling Stone‘s rush to define is just the tip of the iceberg. We see it everywhere in the media,” Helms continued, turning his attention towards Baltimore. “Less than three weeks ago when Baltimore was erupting in violence, Erin Burnett on CNN argued with a local resident insisting the rioters be defined as thugs. Wolf Blitzer did the same thing … But City Councilman Nick Mosby wouldn’t have it. In a testy exchange, he defined his own community, saying, ‘This is about the social economics of poor urban America. These young guys are frustrated. They’re upset and unfortunately they’re displaying it in a very destructive manner.’ That’s a bigger, much more complex analysis that strikes me as the real news story.”
“Either way, the reductive labels aren’t helping and we better stop applying them because there are a lot of Americans in a lot of pain. The riots weren’t happening in Kiev or Benghazi; they happened a mighty pleasant three-hour drive from right here.”
“We try to define others with simple labels because it makes the world easier to understand.”
Enjoy Ed Helms’ UVA full commencement address in its entirety: