Monday, November 20, 2006

It's Not About Freedom Of Speech

Just because you're free to say it doesn't mean you're not a racist bastard.

Below, in case you haven't seen it, Michael Richards (of Seinfeld fame) loses his temper and goes way beyond using the "N" word.

I am horrified.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are we shocked? If you ask many African American whats on you IPod right now and you will here the Dreaded "N" word a few thousand times. So we or I guess I should say me or anyone be shocked when a white guy says it.... Now days should you still be affended by that and why? come on "N" is just a word you can call me just about anything It doesnt bother me. I cjust concider the mentality of the person useing the word......Now may I ask you this "K" you are going out with a Stand up Comic how would hehave delt with that??....its just a question I dont need to incite a war i dont need more enamies I have plenty........I just would have called them all "F#@K Heads" and that would have been it ....come on admit it everyone hates a "F#$k Head"
my blogger ID wont work:(

8:16 PM  
Blogger Serrephim said...


There are ways to silence hecklers that don't include violently screaming racial epithets at someone. I would hope a stand-up comic would have the wit to do so with humor, not tools of oppression. There is no excuse for what you just saw.

9:40 PM  
Blogger MeJane said...

Not only was it offensive, it wasn't even funny. Kiss of death for a comic.

9:48 PM  
Blogger cuznate said...

yeah, that's not how you deal with a heckler. at all. even a little bit.

and it's not the use of any particular word, i think we focus on too much and it winds up giving people a strange 'that word isn't as bad as you think, black people use it all the time' defense, it's what he's saying overall. that first line about 50 years ago, i mean, shit, that's just awful.

but then, the plus side to this is that we live in a day and age when a rant like this is so widely unacceptable that an entertainer like richards just destroyed his career. even 20 years ago this would have been a tough PR situation. now, it's career death. that's progress of a sort.

5:58 AM  
Blogger k said...

anon, I am not shocked at the use of the N word always, all the time, no matter what. Words are words and they matter in context.

In this case, he used the N word as an insult. At one point he essentially said, "this guy should be ejected from the theater because he is a nigger."

The MOST offensive thing he said, to me, was the "50 years ago..." comment. Lynching? Lynching? NOT OKAY.

I have seen Ish deal with absolutely impossible situations, and he has never, ever resorted to anything like this. Even when angry, he just keeps making jokes.

As a stand-up, even at the most base level, getting angry at hecklers screams 'amateur.' If you can't rely on your sense of humor to quell a crowd, you're in the wrong business.

Screaming names at the audience is never going to win them over.

It is very satisfying to see people getting up and leaving when they realize what's happening.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Ish said...

I was listening to a couple of comedians talking about this on the radio this morning. One was Patrice O'Neal, who is black, and pretty edgy. The other was Jim Norton, who is white and VERY edgy. They were focusing mostly on how Richards' apology on Letterman made it so much worse. Richards was nearly incoherent in his apology, and the solemn tone seemed to add weight to it rather than take it away. Setting aside the morality, they thought he would have been better off giving a standard Hollywood spin - I was suffering from exhaustion; I have substance abuse issues; I was doing a performance art piece that just went awry.

As to the morality, O'Neal had a little different take - he thought it was a joke until he heard the apology. And he feels that giving it so much serious attention is what gives The Dreaded N Word so much power. Patrice O'Neal said if he had been in the balcony and on the receiving end of Richards' rant, he would have laughed at him. He was critical of Sinbad for making a big deal out of it.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Ish said...

My $0.02 as a comedian.

Mind you, I am way down the food chain, so I haven't dealt with a whole lot of heckling. I've seen a lot of comedians deal with hecklers. I've seen some do an amazing job, and some do a disastrous job. The key is always keep the audience on your side. Once you alienate the audience, you are toast.

But Richards wasn't a comedian handling hecklers; he was just a guy who completely lost his shit. And he said some horrible things. As was the case with Mel Gibson, people never say things they haven't thought first. So what's really ugly about this, is that the guy was walking around with this stuff in his head.

1:29 PM  
Blogger Ish said...

Incoming Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R - Dixie) probably didn't have a problem with anything Richards said.

1:33 PM  

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