Sometimes Offensive Comedy is Just Llazy Laughs
OK, call me a hypersensitive liberal, if you want. It wouldn’t be the first time. I can be a pain in the neck about racial, ethnic and religious bias sometimes, but I think it’s better to be hypersensitive than insensitive.
Anyway, I was ready to let this controversy go until I happened to look at the newspaper a couple days later and saw a headline that stung me with painful memories. Police on Monday found numerous headstones vandalized at a cemetery in Waukegan, Illinois — a Jewish cemetery.
Some were spray-painted with swastikas, according to the photos and news reports. One of the misspelled messages said, “Kanye was rite (sic.)”
Of course, I don’t know who committed this act or why. I can only presume it was someone who played hooky when they should have been in grade school English classes.
But a quick internet search for antisemitic vandalism turned up two more incidents of similar graffiti and hangmen in Bethesda, Maryland, a suburb north of Washington.
The Anti-Defamation League reported a dramatic increase in antisemitic incidents in 2021 in this country, with a total of 2,717 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism reported to ADL, the highest number on record since the organization began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979.
I’m not bringing this up to blame Chappelle for this apparent surge in violence. I’m only reminding everyone that we all need to do whatever we can to stop it. Whether we have hate in mind or not, misplaced humor can feed to hateful attitudes and dangerous acts.
I know Chappelle is keenly aware of where the line of acceptable, dangerous or simply offensive discourse is before he decides to cross it.
In one of his better lines in this monologue, he knocks down the trope of Jews running the entertainment industry with, “There’s a lot of Black people in Ferguson, Missouri. It doesn’t mean we run the place.”
True enough. It’s not hard for a comedian as gifted as Chappelle to take a little time, polish his act and avoid taking the lazy route to cheap laughs.
But I invite responses from the free speech crowd. Just try to keep it civil, please.
(E-mail Clarence Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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