Re: Tosh/Tracy/rape/gays/etc...Everyone is a supporter of free speech. Until someone says something disgusting. That's when it gets interesting. Some people bail. But the true believers know vile things are the ones that most need defending. Like when the ACLU argued on behalf of the Nazis who wanted to march in Skokie. When you defend the rights of someone who says stuff you hate, that's when you show you truly believe in freedom of expression.
Saying something is off limits for discussion on a comedy stage is dangerous to the artform. That stage is one of the few remaining public forums in our nanny society where people can still express themselves without a filter and without censorship. And that's what makes it a holy place where the truth often emerges. If you want the garden, accept the weeds. They grow together.
Sandpaper Suit is NYC standup comic Matt Ruby's (now defunct) comedy blog. Keep in touch: Sign up for Matt's weekly Rubesletter. Email email@example.com.
Vile things are the ones that most need defending
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I understand that because Tosh has a TV show on a mainstream network that has advertisers he probably has to apologize, but in general, I wish comedians wouldn't apologize for this stuff, because I think it makes it worse. It legitimizes a heckler that attended an art form she doesn't understand and acted in an inappropriate way. I hope at some point someone just says, "I refuse to apologize. I say things on stage that I don't mean literally - they are jokes. Sometimes the jokes offend certain people and sometimes they fall flat, but I won't apologize because a joke pushed a particular person's button or didn't work as well as I hoped."
(if someone has said something like this and I missed it, my mistake)
To some extent, I think it's up to other comedians to sound off about this. Otherwise it just seems like someone covering their own ass. Chris Rock defending Tracy Morgan means more than Tracy Morgan defending Tracy Morgan.
I think that's true. Certainly someone without a personal stake in the incident sounds more reasoned than a person at the center of it. I'm just tired of the charade we seem to have constantly now, not just in comedy, but in society in general: Someone says something that is not meant to be heard outside of the context or situation in which it was uttered, but it gets leaked, a person or special interest group is "offended", people rally around the "wronged" people via the interent because why not, the person is forced to issue a clearly insincere apology (and it should be insincere because they didn't do anything "wrong" ). Wish we as a society would use discretion a bit more and give people the benefit of the doubt.
This is the era of insincere apologies. Being offended and apologizing are now both public acts which are performed via social media.
Both these things used to be personal acts, I would be offended and express my offense to you as an individual and you would either apologize to me or not. Now we shout out into the echo chamber of the internet to have like minded people repeat and affirm our opinions.
The only person owed an apology is Daniel Tosh. He was in a building where you go to hear jokes. A woman chose to go to a show where people tell jokes. He was performing on a show where people tell jokes. He was telling something that was a joke. An audience member wrongly didn't take it as a joke. An audience member wrongly interrupted a performance.
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