As any sentient comedy fan knows by now, Tracy Morgan recently said some fucked-up shit in a performance. An audience member called him on this fucked-up shit, and kerfuffle ensued. Tracy Morgan issued an apology that, as far as celebrity apologies go, was refreshingly direct and unambiguous. And then Louis C.K. got interviewed about it and was all like, ‘Hey now! Everybody SETTLE DOWN! Tracy Morgan is a COMEDIAN! Comedians gotta say shit!’ At which point Ta-Nehisi Coates, who I hope will one day become president of the universe, wrote a response that more or less boiled down to, ‘Dear Louis: I love your work and find much of it brave, but girl, please.’ Comedy website Splitsider, reporting on all of this, took a look at TNC’s post, and Louis C.K.’s own response to it, and put forth into the world this gem: ‘He’s right; no matter what you think about Morgan’s rant, the conversation it’s started about offensive humor has indeed been fascinating, and I think valuable as well.’
Yes. Because every time somebody does something truly fucked up, that fucked-up act can be validated by the ‘conversation’ it inspires. You know that national converastion we’ve been having for the last year or so about bullying? TOTALLY MADE THOSE GAY KIDS’ SUICIDES WORTH IT, AMIRITE??
Let me make this very clear: those kids killed themselves, and people got upset by what Tracy Morgan said, not because we need to have a ‘conversation’. These things happen because people are assholes. So here’s my conversation: DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE.
Also, Splitsider — and other DudeBros (a scientific term referring generally to people who fall into the category of straight/white/male, or at times any subcategory thereof) — WE’VE HAD THIS CONVERSATION BEFORE. A whole bunch of times. A whoooooooooole bunch of times. We had it about Michael Richards. We had it about Sarah Silverman! We had it back in the 80s, when Andrew Dice Clay existed! ‘DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE’ is not such a complex concept that it should need to be re-addressed every two years, and sitting around saying ‘wow, this is such a fascinating conversation’ just gives cover for people to continue to be assholes.
Now, perhaps I am misreading Splitsider. Perhaps they are simply remarking on the fascinating conversation about free speech that emerges whenever a comedian spews some hate, and censorship, and all that crap that NOBODY IS ACTUALLY TALKING ABOUT. As far as I can tell, nobody — not the least TNC — has suggested actually abridging any comedians’ right to free speech. That was Lenny Bruce’s fight, not Tracy Morgan’s, and the first amendment guarantees that Tracy Morgan can say all the fucked up shit he wants. It also guarantees that the rest of us can call him out on it and have that same age-old conversation oooooone more time.
Don’t be an asshole. It’s not that hard.