Features, Free Speech, Politics

The New War on Comedy

Comedy has had a well-understood purpose: to entertain, to push boundaries and to keep us honest. Historically, the court jester was the one person allowed to publicly mock the all-powerful king perched upon the golden throne. It is for this reason that when a storyteller wants to illustrate a ruler’s descent into madness, we see him begin to turn his ire towards the lowly jester:

It is worrying then that the ever more powerful social media guns of the Social Justice Left are being aimed squarely at comedians. In December, American comedian Nimesh Patel was pulled off stage by students for doing woke (and funny) jokes about race. A few days later, I made headlines when I refused to sign a “behavioral agreement” to perform at a student comedy gig which insisted that I not joke about religion, atheism and 10 other “isms,” as well as demanding that my jokes be “respectful and kind.”

Given the public ridicule of the students and widespread support for the comedians in these cases, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the social justice ideologues would use the holiday season to reflect and reconsider. Think again.

On the very first day of this brave new year, news broke of a leaked audio recording of Louis CK joking about gender pronouns and Parkland shooting survivors. As is now standard with these cases, it was claimed he was “attacking” the subjects of his jokes while his actual words were usually left unreported and no link included to the leaked audio. As usual, we were forced to rely on the opinions of woke “journalists”—often expressed on Twitter—rather than looking at what the comedian actually said or how the audience responded.

Of course, on closer examination Louis CK’s jokes were not particularly offensive and, what’s more, they were funny. Rather than attacking Parkland survivors, he joked that “being at a school where people got shot doesn’t make you interesting”—an observation about the huge media platform some of the survivors have been given, which was clearly recognized as accurate by his audience who promptly roared with laughter. He also poked fun at millennials being worried about offense and safety, contrasting their attitude with his generation’s youthful drug-taking and wild exploits. Millennials duly took offense and claimed he was making them feel unsafe.

On the same day, Netflix pulled an episode of “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” for the following joke about the killing of Saudi Arabian writer Jamal Khashoggi: “They went through so many explanations, the only one they didn’t say was that Khashoggi died in a free solo rock climbing accident.”

It is easy to see how this joke would be “problematic,” given the need to protect the rights of marginalized groups like the Saudi Royal Family to enjoy Netflix comedies in a safe space.

Of course, a private corporation caving in to pressure from a national government is not the same as woke students censoring comedians, but these events are not unconnected. Once you make it acceptable to tell the jester what is off limits in one context, you enable those who would seek to silence him elsewhere.

The underlying assumptions of social justice censorship are that words are a form of violence, that a subjective interpretation matters more than the speaker’s intent and that safety is contingent on not being teased or challenged. The mainstreaming of these ideas is an existential threat to comedy (and freedom of speech in general). Comedians use lies to tell the truth—the notion that the exaggerations, stories and carefully crafted falsehoods we deliver on stage should be taken literally will be the death knell of comedy. The idea that your safety depends on me never challenging you is the end of any sort of useful communication. The assertion that words are a form of violence is not only non-sensical—whatever happened to “Sticks and stones may break my bones…”?—it is a cynical attempt to appeal to the decency of performers. After all, what comedian would willingly subject some members of their audience to violence?

As Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Godfrey Elfwick, the satirist banned by Twitter, pointed out that, to many on the Social Justice Left, the notion of free speech itself has become a “far right dogwhistle.” For the last year, I have hosted the YouTube show (and podcast) TRIGGERnometry with fellow comic Francis Foster, where we interview experts from different fields in the hope of bringing a light-hearted but fact-focused approach to contentious issues. We’ve interviewed people about the evolutionary origins of racism, the biological differences between men and women, the gender pay gap, populism, capitalism, socialism, communism and much else besides, but nothing has made us pariahs quite like defending free speech.

Even though my co-host is an old school leftie and I’m a centrist with a strong libertarian bent, we’ve been banned from comedy clubs and lost friendships in the industry over our “right-wing podcast.” When the story of my refusal to sign the “behavioral agreement” broke, I was called “alt-right” on the BBC by a fellow comedian.

Those of us in the industry who hoped that recent events would spark a period of reflection among the advocates of social justice and that 2019 might be the year where we finally come together in defense of free speech and its importance to comedy are looking less like the jester and more like the fool with every passing hour.

Despite overwhelming public opposition to political correctness, the arts remain a bastion of wokeness. While ordinary people see through the Social Justice Left’s virtue signaling, Twitter blue ticks and their sidekicks in the mainstream media continue to churn out clickbait about faux outrages. We are now in the bizarre position where what is and isn’t allowed in comedy is determined by sanctimonious writers who’ve never been in a comedy club. This situation is not sustainable. I’m a passionate defender of free speech and not just because I’m a comedian. It is a cornerstone of the West and the reason my ancestors came here after escaping the Soviet Union. It is what makes all of us who we are and we cannot give it up.


Konstantin Kisin is a Russian-British comedian based in the UK and the co-host of 
TRIGGERnometry. You can follow him on Twitter @KonstantinKisin.

Feature photo by lev radin / Shutterstock.

195 Comments

  1. Tony Cohen says

    It is telling, at least to me, that an article about Louis CK and his current position in comedy, or out of comedy, doesn’t have a single word about his self-admitted conduct. Do you think in light of his behaviour some people don’t find the same jokes funny? For me at least, it is harder to laugh at someone claiming to be a jerk for a laugh when I found out his conduct sucked. But everyone’s mileage varies.

    • Stoic Realist says

      It is telling to me that in an article about the state of comedy that includes one anecdote about Louie CK you focus so much on the single anecdote that you reframe the purpose of the entire article. Do you think that in light of that behavior we should assume you have some issue with the overall point that you are unable to frame as a rational objection? Disregarding the entire point to focus in on one element to try and reframe the discussion into a more winnable one seems intellectually dishonest to me. But I may be wrong.

      • TarsTarkas says

        The end result will be that only perfect people telling perfectly safe jokes vetted by perfectly woke people will be allowed to perform comedy. In short, no one. Who anointed these insufferable little tyrants Gods of proper humor?

        • Nilufar Rahman says

          So true! It’s sad how American become a virtue signaling nation now a days.

          • stevengregg says

            Not all Americans are virtual signallers, just a tiny fraction of dogmatic liberal idiots.

        • Bhazor says

          “only perfect people”

          No. Just preferably not self confessed sex offenders. You know as it might be for you to not be a sex offender there are many men who actually manage not to be registered sex offenders.

          • Abu Nudnik says

            You’ve strongly implied that he has been convicted of a sex crime and then after than contrived not to be registered as a sex offender. That’s defamation with malice aforethought and actionable. If I were him, I’d sue you for it.

        • “Lieutenant Steve, Lieutenant Steve!” (possibly obscure ‘Good Morning, Vietnam’ reference).

        • D.B. Cooper says

          @Tars

          The same people who anointed them Gods of Western sociocultural norms/values. Which is to say, we have, of course.

          It is not the non-Westerner (Jews, blacks, illegal aliens – although, I should note I’m reserving judgement on the culpability of feminists and their sycophants more generally until further notice), but the Westerner that has brought us to a place where it is now acceptable – not ominous, but acceptable – to censor jokes with “behavioral agreement” contracts. Let that sink in for a moment. I mean, we’re talking about censoring jokes… performed at a comedy show… attended by adults.

          No, this scandalous affair is the making of our own fragility, of our own absence of conscience. It is the Western Zeitgeist that incessantly reminds us that the tragic consequences of white supremacy are as ubiquitous as the air we breathe; and that nothing, absolutely nothing, is more American/European than self-flagellation. In today’s societies, as a white person there are few things more fashionable than assigning to yourself and other white people – by which they usually just mean the other white people who are poorer, non-liberal, and not them – the entirety of guilt for… well… pretty much everything bad that has ever happen to anyone, everywhere. Even for things that happened before they were born. No, especially for things that happened before they were born.

          We are the sycophants who have haunted our own enterprise. We are the political junta who’s incentivized the cannibalization of civil society (what will soon be formerly known as the West) by tolerating – and often outright endorsing – the vitiating energies of moral relativism, multiculturalism, social justice zealotry, postmodernism, and other such misanthropic foolishness that can rarely be said to rise even to the dignity of error without shattering epistemology or committing to coercive cognitive distortions at a level hitherto unknown. Make no mistake, our central endorsement of these pernicious ideologies has been an act of self-sabotage virtually infinite in its dynamos. It’s masochism by any other name.

          But why are we where we are? How did the West accomplish so much only to arrive at an increasingly insufferable place where one’s allergy to truth is now a civil right? Consider the awkward fact that the same society who put a man on the moon some 50-years-ago is, now, seemingly unable to come to terms with, and very often even admit, that biological differences between men and women are real, meaningful, and stubborn; or that differences between ethnic populations – a euphemism if there ever was one – are heritable to some not insignificant degree; never mind the fact that our future intellectual zeitgeist is about the business of demanding jokes be respectful and kind. It may just be the case that when the task of telling the truth has been left to listeners of emotions, but not proprietors of logic and mathematical reasoning, we are in every sense of the word on a barren path to perdition. I hope not.

          • Abu Nudnik says

            Other than the odd lumping of blacks, Jews and illegal aliens together at all, let alone non-Westerners, I agree with what you’ve written except it’s hard to see how you can say it without noting how this exists deep in the root of Christendom beginning with the introspection of St. Augustine. The silence on the death of God is deafening. That’s why these little twerps who tell me what’s “appropriate” or “inappropriate” think they’re all gods and behave that way, looking for the least sin in the other so as to bind him with the chains of anathema.

          • And, I would add, censoring jokes told to adults who are VOLUNTARILY attending the comedy event!

        • Big Al says

          If you want to know the special hell you could be in for if the chosen ones are the only ones allowed to tell jokes, just watch a Christian comedian.

      • Northern Observer says

        I was going to comment but SR nailed it so well I don’t need to. In place of a substantive reply I will offer spiritual guidance. Mr Cohen, when you reduce all things to fit an ideology who make the World a worse place to live in, an anti Tikkun Olam so to speak. Try and Be Better, OK? (see I acted like an SJW and re-purposed moral outrage to an anti SJW point of view, you like meta irony, amiright?

      • Daniel says

        Stoic Realist, you’re responding as if Tony Cohen’s criticism of Louis CK was unwarranted. Clearly not the case. I, for one, can’t laugh at his jokes without feeling like an asshole. So I don’t. To treat him like he’s just another comedian, or a king’s fool who satirizes power is inappropriate. I’m not sold on the article’s efficacy either.

        • Whether if Louis CK has been sufficiently criticized or not is irrelevant to the main point of this article, there is plenty of room to extend your moral superiority. And yes, maybe he shouldn’t be treated like other comedians, maybe you feel like an asshole for laughing at his jokes and maybe such criticism is warranted as you claim but certainly all that still does not make it reasonable to hijack the attention from the critical message of this article that clearly exposes severe manipulation of comedians words and or complete censorship. The attempt to reframe this discussion only distracts others from taking a stronger stand for the freedom of speech, the one that on occasion the Left claims to care so much about.

        • Man with the Axe says

          So don’t laugh at him, but leave everyone else alone to laugh or not at their own free choice.

          • Thomas Brown says

            Thou hast spoken wisely. A simple truth, so often fallen by the wayside…

          • Brian says

            Absolutely correct. So simple really. Everyone decides whether they want to attend his shows, or not. Wokeness just might kill us.

      • Dan B says

        Stoic Realist, the irony in your comment is almost unbelievable. You are missing the author’s entire point to focus on one issue to reframe the issue!

        He clearly gives multiple examples and focuses on the most recent in more detail in what is clearly a trend of attempts to silence comedians for daring to joke about certain topics irrespective of their approach. I don’t see where this contradicts the ‘purpose’ of the article and more importantly as he is the author how he could even do such a thing – he is the author and he controls the ‘purpose’ irrespective of what you believe it to be.

        • Stoic Realist says

          @Dan B

          Perhaps you missed the post of Tony Cohen who I was responding to using an imatative form for emphasis. I sought to make the point that Tony focused on the one Louie CK example and ignored everything rules. It might help to read my post immediately after you read his.

    • Angela says

      Its completely reasonable to avoid his comedy because you dont like him anymore, but the media response to that leaked set was absokutely bonkers. Basically every news site had a pearl clutching arricle that was so over the top.

    • Shenme Shihou says

      He joked about the Parkland kids. What does wanking off in front of comedians have to do with that?

    • What has he actually done? Asked someone if he could rub one out in front of said someone and did so if they consented to that? Why should anyone care about his kinks?

    • Louis CK pretty much joked about what he did, and all laughed. Then found out it was true, and now can’t laugh any anything he said.
      You are certainly free to not watch Louis CK. But many others are content knowing the difference between the work a person does and perhaps their sad private lives. I wish he had “molested me” the way he did those others as I’d have recorded it all on my phone and made a mint.

      • Benjamin Eisentraut says

        You’d consent to an activity in front of you and then frame a narrative to portray victimization in order to extort money from someone? Who’s the real wanker here?

    • patrick says

      If we stopped watching comedians based on their historical conduct then we’d have access to like 5 comedians.

    • Kenneth Newman says

      Live by the sword die by the sword. I have no problem with what you espouse as long as you understand that YOU could just as easily be the victim of arbitrary destruction in the name of orthopolitics. I mean utterly and arbitrarily and painfully and devastatingly destroyed at the drop of a hat for nothing, then cool. Enjoy the world you have ordained. Just don’t come asking for help when you become the victim of the same meanness you espouse, Tony.

    • Abu Nudnik says

      Don’t like him? Don’t listen. I don’t care what people do. I care whether or not they’re good at their jobs. I’m not a fan and never have been but he has a right to freedom, to tell his jokes and people have a right to write about him, not go to his performances, and switch the channel.

    • Some ppl couldnt give a shit about his “conduct”, because doing so reeks of sanctimonious, inauthentic, virtue signaling bullshit. You help make his point: ppl who take themselves WAAYYY too seriously need to 1) lighten up, and 2) just STFU.
      And btw…just because you, or anyone else, thinks someone’s “conduct” is not where you consider it should be? Fuck off…Jerry Falwell called and would lije his Moral Majority back.

    • Mark says

      That seems reasonable Tony. Truly. I did a deep dive on the allegations, the most serious being fifteen years ago and I don’t think Louie bears all the blame. The victims of his masturbatory predilections went with him to his room at night to drink, consented to his request, and watched him to completion. While that’s not something I would do or advocate that doesn’t, I’m my book, make him a pariah or irredeemable person. Just makes him a little perverse. Moreover, the penalty has been massive for him.

    • If you don’t feel comfortable laughing at his jokes, don’t go to his shows. Just don’t deny the right of other people to make their own decision on the matter.

    • Theodore A Hoppe says

      To paraphrase Louis CK, what are you going to do, take away his birthday?

    • Gary Cooper says

      You’ll have to accept that people make mistakes but don’t deserve to have their lives destroyed over them. What Louis did was not a Weinstein- or Cosby-scale offense, it was with consenting adults, and it was never something that should have destroyed his career. You’re not required to think he’s funny. You’re just ill-advised to take everything he says on stage as literal truth because voice in comedy does not work that way.

    • peanut gallery says

      The Gulf between what the Hollywood Weinstein and CK did is so large that they are on different continents. CK’s behavior was pathetic, but harmless. He acted badly and I think public knowledge of it alone is punishment enough. I heard the leaked bit and it was pretty funny. I think he figured out that no woke people would accept his apology, so he might as well go on offense. There is not redemption in the progressive circle.

  2. ShipAhoy says

    Listened to Louis CK’s routine last night and it is hilarious. Absolutely hilarious. Perhaps the SJW’s can find comedians that they find funny, and let the rest of us keep ours. We need humor to get us through this, and everything Louis C.K. joked about in that routine was therapeutic.

    Oh — and I don’t give a rat’s ass that he offered to show his dick to those women who were trying to use him to get ahead. They can go F themselves. He did ask for consent, as I understand it.

    • Andrew Smedley says

      Honestly. I found his 2017 special a little stale (maybe life was too comfortable?), I thought the routine was a return to form.

      Also, he did nothing wrong.

    • Mark says

      Here here. These silly church ladies remind of Salem.

  3. John Ford says

    I by need and necessity (after a few decades in media, and now unhirable due to my age) am a voice over actor/professional. Last year I decided to take a few acting classes, one of them an improv class. I paid in advance for the classes and on the day I showed up I was told I would have to sign a ‘diversity statement’ to continue in the class. Needless to say, I was not happy. I did sign, and continue that class, but I did not continue the full course and told the staff that I believed that taking a class on improv to learn how to be more improvisational and spontaneous and having to sign a diversity agreement that made me constantly guard my speech seemed diametrically opposed. I was told, “This is standard procedure in the industry, every improv group in the country has a similar statement that needs to be signed.” Argumentum ad populum indeed.

  4. Leigh says

    Kate Smurthwaite a comedian? I had no idea that there was a market for unfunny, petty whingers on the UK comedy circuit – perhaps the student union can book her next time.

  5. Madeline says

    Interesting, important, and timely comment. Comedians are at real risk in the current power structure, and nowhere are power dynamics more clearly exposed than by looking at who comedians are afraid of. They used to be afraid of monarchs. Today they’re afraid of their own audiences.

    it’s an old problem. Google “Sotades” to see what I mean.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Madeline

      Afraid of their audiences? No ma’am, they are afraid of the thoughtpolice, who may sit among the audience but aren’t really part of it, because they are not there to enjoy the comedy, they are there for the purpose of being offended.

      • TarsTarkas says

        They are there to record or misrepresent all the wrongthink and thoughtcrime being uttered by both performer and audience and to identify all wrongthinkers so that they can be identified, doxxed, shamed, and made to bow down before the graven idol of PC. F**k those bastards. I can’t see any of them ever holding a productive job ever, one day working in a bluecollar outfit would end up with them needing dentristry work or worse.

  6. Scary times. Even Charlie Hebdo backed down from mocking muslims. SJWs, muslims, all who lack humor need to be mocked daily until they learn to like it. Louis CK’s skit was flat out fantastic. He mocks himself as well, and his kids.

    • Lightning Rose says

      These “students” who demand to feel “safe” all the time, claiming that words equate to violence, sound like the most frightened, immature, dysfunctional, humorless and pathetic generation we have ever raised. Contrast this fear of a comedian, or “mean tweets” for that matter, with our grandparents who stormed Omaha Beach! These “students” deserve to be mocked, ignored, and dismissed as the arrested development cases they are and let the rest of the world carry on with the business of living–and laughing. Humor and satire put much of the silliness and self-absorption into perspective.

      • janby says

        A couple of points…

        …The politicized notion that “sacred cows” are off limits gained major traction with Cindy Sheehan as an effective way to shut up debate. The tactic proved wildly successful. Now, whole swathes of society have become off-limits to scrutiny and scorn. Their untouchability has created a society filled with narcissistic authoritarian bullies and one filled with a backlash of resentment.

        Louis CK just highlighted the absurd incongruity of wilting bullies who spend their lives telling everyone else how to live their lives instead of living their own. Having just watched a viral video of a raging authoritarian screaming I’m-obviously-a-woman-call-me m’am to a hapless clerk who evidently didn’t find it so obvious makes me think that humor is the preferred course.

        …The only reason to testify at a Congressional hearing should be to 1] create awareness, 2] engender empathy to prompt legislative solutions, or 3] share special expertise. Louis CK highlighted the absurdity of Parkland kids purporting to do any of the above. The world already had excruciating AWARENESS. Outpourings of EMPATHY were evident to all. Lastly, the students who got political traction demonstrated NO SPECIAL EXPERTISE about guns OR solutions. Their boiled-down message looked a lot like kids-getting-shot-in-class-is-bad. True ‘dat.

        Louis CK simply highlighted the absurdity of the pendulum swinging from 1] kids-should-be-seen-but-not-heard all the way to 2] kids-should-craft-public-policy-while-informing-the-adult-dunderheads-that-murder-is-bad. Save it for the cartels.

        Highlighting absurdities and incongruities is what comedians do.

      • DCvoyeur says

        They need a dose of reality. They will slip and pull that crap in some bar one day without the SJW groupies filming their righteousness. It will bring a whole new meaning to the word triggering. They believe they are entitled to destroy people in the the name of social justice. Once they cross the line and do it person to person instead of behind their backs and in secret it is a whole different world. There are people out there who show intolerance in a more physical way. This will not end well since tyrants fall and these little tyrants, without a clue about what a hostile world we really live in, will find out as soon as they step out of their SJW circle.

        In the mean time I would encourage any company that is hiring first ask for a transcript of the classes that potential hires attended in college. If any of the SJW “trigger” classes show up then DO NOT hire them. These people are poison to any work environment. Once students understand that the real world will not hire them they drop these indoctrination classes. Then SJW educators will soon need to find a new gig. One company has a written test for new hires to see if any of the key SJW words trigger a reaction to filter them out of their companies.

    • dellingdog says

      Charlie Hebdo was a Christian “false flag” to undermine the hugely positive Muslim contribution to Scandinavian society. The diversity offered by the immigrant community is the crowning achievement of Scandinavian utopia.
      Louis CK made one mistake, I have ladies sign consent forms before I do my business in front of them. The potted plants, well, they have no right of refusal.

      • Stephanie says

        @dellingdog, such an absurd statement must be sarcastic, but that it took me a moment to decide speaks volumes about the state of discourse. Reminds me of the women who got raped by migrants, and then wrote open letters apologizing to them, and blaming white society.

  7. Steve says

    “Those of us in the industry who hoped that recent events would spark a period of reflection among the advocates of social justice”

    So did people born after 1980 just not read any actual history at all?

    These SJWs have appeared repeatedly throughout modern history. They are incapable of a “period of reflection”. At their worst (Jacobins, Red Guard, Khmer Rouge, et al) the mask slips and blood flows in torrents. These people will never, ever stop on their own. There is no bottom. They won’t just fade away. They aren’t silly or crazy: they’re evil. Plan accordingly.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Steve

      Well said. The fundamentalists are always with us and the battle to keep them in check never ends.

  8. Great article.
    I wonder how long until the fascists go after the audience too?
    Imagine this, Chris Rock, Kevin Hart and Eddie Murphy make a lot of their humor about black culture poking fun at it, if you laugh and you are not black, how long until someone calls you racist? Do you think Woody Allen and Larry David are funny? Well…you must be anti semitic.

    • Tony cohen says

      Interestingly, Chris Rock has spoken about no longer doing parts of his acts because he didn’t like the way white people were laughing at him. Just made him feel uncomfortable if memory serves…

      • Area Man says

        @Tony: Chris Rock also says he won’t do universities because the audience is hyper-PC.

        Everyone should read Frank Rich’s interview of Rock in Vulture.

        Rock: I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative. Not in their political views — not like they’re voting Republican — but in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. Kids raised on a culture of “We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.” Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say “the black kid over there.” No, it’s “the guy with the red shoes.” You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.

        Rich: When did you start to notice this?

        Rock: About eight years ago. Probably a couple of tours ago. It was just like, This is not as much fun as it used to be. I remember talking to George Carlin before he died and him saying the exact same thing.

        Rich: A few days ago I was talking with Patton Oswalt, and he was exercised about the new reality that any comedian who is trying out material that’s a little out there can be fucked by someone who blasts it on Twitter or a social network.

        This was in November of 2014.

      • No Sharia says

        I wonder if he has return to them some of the money he made off them.

  9. “We’ve interviewed people about the evolutionary origins of racism, the biological differences between men and women, the gender pay gap, populism, capitalism, socialism, communism and much else besides, but nothing has made us pariahs quite like defending free speech.”

    Here is the thing. You cannot proclaim yourself a leftist or a centrist while exclusively putting out content that rationalizes right-wing extremism. Tim Pool makes the same mistake. We can see right through you because your content selection process tells us where you are coming from.

    • Shenme Shihou says

      A leftist oraganization originally created by the USSR is blocking roads, destroying property and assaulting people all across the country. Professors and a blue check journos are totally ok with it. Instead they and their folowers are worried that Tim Pool criticizing Patreon “rationalizes right-wing extremism.”

      • peanut gallery says

        You can consider an idea without accepting it. How can you combat a thing if you don’t understand it? I want to understand how racists racist ideas generally grow and attach, that doesn’t mean I agree. That’s just wanting to reason it out.

    • “Libertarian bent” now equals “right wing extremist.”

      Seems like the term “right wing extremist” is enjoying the same treatment as all other pejoratives lefties sling around – continually expand the definition until it captures everything they disagree with.

      Clever people, these lefties.

      • Mike says

        Joe, I think it’s a function of living in an ideological bubble. If everyone you know shares (or publicly appears to share) the same beliefs, even placing a tiny toe out of line begins to look like extremism.

      • jakesbrain says

        Nobody “leaves” the left or “joins” the right anymore — they just get thrown into the pit with the rest of us.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Robert S. Robbins

      “rationalizes right-wing extremism”

      The Warriors hold that any view they do not agree with rationalizes right-wing extremism. But wait, would this not hold the other way? Suppose someone advocated for some policy slightly to the LEFT of your own view, would that automatically rationalize Maoism? What yourself and other Warriors are essentially saying is that no one may disagree with you in any way since you presume that one step to the Right must really mean going all the way to the Right and one step to the Left must mean going all the way to the Left (tho the latter is not worried about in practice).

      On the contrary, a centrist like myself believes in freedom of speech for everyone, Nazis, Maoists, Libertarians, Flat-Earthers, Creationists, and even people like yourself who do not believe in FOS at all, paradoxically. We take a step to the Left sometimes, then perhaps a step to the Right, then Left again. We seek a reasonable balance.

      Would it be a good idea for judges and bureaucrats to be able to penalize someone for what they are ‘really thinking’ as opposed to what they actually say? Should we have mind reading? Imagine some situation where you say something, but some enemy of yours denounces you to the thoughtpolice on the basis that your enemy knows what you are ‘really thinking’? There is no defense of course, because naturally you will protest that you are not a thoughtcriminal — but they know what you are ‘really thinking’ because that’s their job.

    • georgopolis says

      Mindreading while rationalizing left wing extremism. That’s some ironic hypocrisy.

    • Andrew Mcguiness says

      @Robert_Robbins So …. inquiring whether there are biological differences between men and women, to take one example, is a signal that you are rationalising right-wing extremism? Are you joking, actually?

    • Mike says

      You seem to be suggesting that interviewing people about “populism, capitalism, socialism, communism and much else besides” is inherently rationalizing right-wing extremism. Do I have that right?

    • Toby says

      “We can see right through you because your content selection process tells us where you are coming from.”

      In other words, I haven’t got any coherent arguments or interesting ideas about the topic under discussion, so I’ll just make sneering comments about something completely unrelated.

      Who cares whether Konstantin proclaims himself a leftist, a centrist, or a round-the-corner-and-up-the-stairs-ist? This is a discussion of the principles of free speech.

      People who can only resort to political tribalism are so boring. They never actually engage in the discussion at all.

    • @Robert_Robbins says: ” ‘We’ can see right through you… ”

      The scariest word in that sentence is “we”. Who is this “we” you belong to, and speak for, Robert? Oh yeah, the mob…tread carefully, lest your precious “we” turns on you.

  10. R Henry says

    I can’t laugh when a father makes sexual observations/jokes about his own preteen daughter, which has long been part of this guy’s schtick. I consider it child abuse, and NOT funny.

    • That’s fine – you be you. But do you think LCK should be de-platformed because of your distaste for his act? Are you the arbiter for what is acceptable?

  11. E. Olson says

    I don’t know why comedians are complaining about a few small constraints on what they can safely joke about. All they need to do is follow the simple rule of avoiding cultural appropriation, which simply means that smart, white, male, heterosexual, Christian, not-overweight, not handicapped comedians cannot joke or make fun about non-whites, non-Christians, women, homosexuals, fat, dumb, or handicapped people. On the other hand, there is a bit more flexibility if you are a non-white, non-male, homosexual, non-Christian, fat, dumb, or crippled comedian, because then it is ok for you to joke about your own kind AND about white male heterosexual Christians. For all types of comedians, however, it is a good career move to avoid joking or making fun of Muslims to avoid a Charlie Hedbo event, and Leftists of any type to avoid being banned on social media platforms and mainstream networks. Follow these simple rules and comedy can be fun and safe for everyone.

    • Shenme Shihou says

      Leftist have been swimming in circles trying to justify why his offensive jokes are now over the line. Something about “back then he was punching up.” Apperently making jokes about the narrative of giant social influences is considered “punching down.”

      • D.B. Cooper says

        @Shenme

        Apperently making jokes about the narrative of giant social influences is considered ‘punching down’.

        Putting aside the specific CK example you’re referencing here, do you have strong feelings one way or the other on the concept of ‘punching down’ as it pertains to comics or really anyone else?

        As for my own feelings on the proper direction of a punch, I don’t as a matter of principle have too much of a problem about anyone, saying anything, about anyone else – save maybe the couple few exceptions that are already on the books in ‘Merica (ex: libel). That said however, it would be nothing short of a lie if I said, I didn’t have a natural tendency against such behavior (punching down), but only because I’m not an asshole – like some of you reading this right now – who enjoys bullying people, and specifically ones incapable of responding in kind.

        But who gives a shit what my or anyone’s emotional response might be. It simply doesn’t matter. People should be able to say what they want to say, full stop. How others respond to those words will be up to them. One way you might think of it is that punching down is not unlike having a sudden and severe onset of flatulence while standing in an indoor line in a poorly ventilated building. It might be bad form to do it, but you should lose your job or be de-platformed over it. In point of fact, I would rather live with the emergent consequences of too much speech, than those of not enough.

        And just to be clear, when I say ‘punching down’ I’m thinking about people with moderate-to-severe physical/health conditions as well as those who’ve experienced great tragedies in life, e.g., child burning to death in house fire, losing entire family in a car crash, etc.

        Lastly, despite what feminists, the LGTB community, and the more effeminate men among us my say, a person’s race, ethnicity, gender, culture, etc. are all fair game. What’s more, such things should never be appealed to as a means of protecting said person/group from jokes, criticism or any other sounds made audible. It shouldn’t matter – b/c it doesn’t – if you’re a Jew, a black guy, a redneck or the illegal alien who just backstroked across the Rio yesterday afternoon, you and your corresponding stereotypes are fair game. Now, good luck and good hunting.

    • Peter Halas says

      What is left after you take out all those who you refer to? It’s moronic, that the thought police is everywhere. Please, read Orwell’s 1984 and tell me if our civilisation isn’t going down a dangerous path.

  12. Caligula says

    Yes, well, but the problem seems not so much people who don’t laugh but more people who insist that what offends them must be Shut Down. Often by Any Means Necessary. Aka “de-platforming.”

    It’s somewhat like Mencken’s definition of a Puritan as someone who can’t shake “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be having fun”: The SJW is haunted by the fear that someone, somewhere may be saying something that might offend someone.

    It’s never enough to just avoid the venue/channel/book where this Bad Speech may happen, but merely knowing that someone, somewhere may be saying something offensive to someone that just becomes intolerable.

    So, welcome to a world in which outrage always trumps humor: playing now, on planet “THAT’S NOT FUNNY!”

  13. Mechan says

    Interesting article.
    I do have some push back as far as it goes with attaching Nexflix banning an episode in Saudi Arabia. Regardless if Netflix finds the law in Saudi Arabia repugnant and ill advised, by law they must adhere to it if they want to do business there. As far as I know that episode from “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” is still available in Canada at present so it was banned only in Saudi A.
    If it were banned entirely, that would be another discussion of course.

    • That’s correct. The same, sadly, is happening with Google and others who want to business in China, and I’m sure in all countries that have strict laws like the EU criminalizing jokes about the holocaust or nazis in general. The less free speech we have, the less freedom in general, and the more we allow government powers to control our thoughts and lives.
      But surely Netflix offers lots of shows, and pulling an episode to comply with the crappy laws elsewhere is to be expected. After all, if the USA makes a crappy law, they follow those too.

      • dellingdog says

        I don’t mind the itching, but I hate the burning.

  14. Asenath Waite says

    This might be the best possible thing to have happened for Louis CK’s comedy. Before his scandal he had veered way too far into SJW territory, to the point where I had begun avoiding watching his stuff. Since the SJWs now despise him regardless of what he says, perhaps he is going to start being truthful in his comedy again. I certainly hope so, as he used to be hilarious.

    • Kenny says

      This is a very good point. What kills me about the outrage is how these idiots are actually SURPRISED that Louis hasn’t “learned his lesson.” Do they really think that Louis CK is frigging stupid enough to believe that his old fans would actually forgive him and support “safe” new material? These idiots. Louis is FAMOUS. There is no reason at all that he has to go drink himself to death in obscurity to prove that he feels bad. Idiots.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      Louis was never really in danger of being a SJW. I’m guessing you just heard a joke or two where he makes fun of white people and your panties immediately went zipping up your ass in phony outrage.

      And if you allow your politics to define what you think is humorous, you’re clearly part of the problem.

      • Asenath Waite says

        @Nakatomi

        His later routines focused heavily on white privilege and male privilege. One of those two topics was basically guaranteed to come up at some point. Although he didn’t use those terms specifically, I don’t think.

        Humor needs to be based in truth, and the things he was talking about were not. Therefore, not funny.

    • Peter Halas says

      I guess it’s everyone’s prerogative to avoid watching anything that offends them. But why ban it for everyone? Arn’t we adult and intelligent enough to know what we enjoy and shows we don’t like?

  15. PAUL TYLER says

    still haven’t read a single funny think piece about Luis C.K.s mean jokes. take a lap OP…

  16. Farris says

    There is one culpable group being omitted from the discussion, the woke comedians. Most comedians know one another. They travel and work circuits and discuss routines. When they don’t like something or someone, it is fairly obvious, most have a Trump routine and 35 years ago most had a Reagan routine. Just an observation not a complaint or comment, if you don’t like being the object of jokes, don’t go into politics. Anyway I digress. The point being if the comedians unified and made sport of over sensitive snowflakes, the tide would reverse. So why the silence or lack of laughter when a comedian steps unto a politically incorrect land mine? Because most comedians would rather be hip than funny.
    Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Richard Pryor were all offensive, causing some to complain and demand censorship. Then however the offended were considered square prudes so no one cared. Comedy has always been offensive to some degree but political correctness is about who is offended, not what is said. Any joke deemed offensive today would be acceptable if directed at the right target. So where are the comedians rallying to their brethren? That’s the problem with being woke it creates a great support system echo chamber until it turns on you.

    • MoreTemperate says

      Exactly, Farris. And part of the larger problem we are currently facing which is the inability of so many commentators, most of whom subscribe to the prevailing left-liberal orthodoxy, to take a principled stand. People should read more Kant.

      • Shecky says

        Comedy is a brutally competitive business, and aspiring comedians are simultaneously terrified of coming down on the wrong side of one of these scandals, and secretly (sometimes not-so-secretly) hoping that the fall from grace of more successful comedians will create some room at the top for them to move into. There’s a combination of envious schadenfreude and vigorous virtue signaling among the online comedy community that creates a feeding frenzy when a ripe target like C.K. presents itself.

  17. If you want to hear some good old fashioned non PC comedy, get your hands on Dean Martin Roasts. They were a bit before my time but I had heard of them. My husband and I used to rent the videos and laughed until our sides hurt. Wonder if they are available anymore now that corporations have become authoritarian Puritan sin sniffers.

    • R Henry says

      Yes. Humor before the 1980s was actually funny. Johnny Carson, Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Cosby.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      Your really need to get out of the house a little more. Comedy is nastier and more offensive than ever. Take a look at Bill Burr, Doug Stanhope, Greg Giraldo (RIP), and Jeff Ross, among many others.

  18. Kenny says

    On some level, this subject is THE red flag — i.e., beyond all of the many things that make or should make you worried, the symbolic valence of this issue. We live in an age where a huge portion of the population is consciously at war with humor.

  19. Sean S says

    Imagine this, if liberals all suddenly disappear, what a wonderful world it would be: all problems quillette ever mentioned would disappear.

  20. Mark Beal says

    If the purpose of the court jester is to speak truth to power, and if power turns on the jester when it becomes insane, this speaks volumes of both the power the woke left has accrued, and the depths of its insanity.

    Most mainstream comedy stopped being funny years ago. I gave up listening to the News Quiz on the BBC years ago after Susan Calman went off on a long rant that may as well have been a party political broadcast on behalf of the Women’s Equality Party. I tried it a few years later, and heard four people moaning about Brexit, one of whom was a woman who i suspected had voted leave, but knew which side her bread was buttered on. With the election of Trump, comedy has become lazy. Why bother with the hard work of a whole routine when comparing the president to a random body part is guaranteed to raise a laugh?

    Or maybe “progressives” are just haunted by the idea that someone, somewhere might actually be funny and/or having a laugh. It can’t be much fun having to memorize 48 new gender pronouns a week, while simultaneously trying to simulate checking your privilege.

    The devil may still have all the best tunes, but woke comedians definitely have all the worst jokes.

    • stevengregg says

      The woke comedians are busy demolishing comedy just as liberals have destroyed everything they touch. At present, liberals are substituting polemics for comedy routines. Liberals don’t do bits any more. They do screeds.

  21. Jamester says

    It appears to me that the SJW’s reaction to Louis CK’s behavior has put him in a position where he has little to lose. His latest set seems to reflect that and is all the more funny for it.

  22. Chris Milburn says

    Tony Cohen – it’s fine if you don’t find him funny. It’s also nothing to do with the point of this article, and it’s a little sad to read your comment and see that you completely missed the issue at hand.

  23. Watch most Netflix standup comedies of recent and it’s hard to find the audience laugh much. Jokes become less funny for everyone once the thought police make us all so uneasy, and comedians self-preservation requires that they be tame regarding taboos. Most of the simple human follies jokes have been told for decades; sure, you can get some chuckles out of tame comedy that satisfies the current generation, but the best comedy for me touches on the taboo, the risqué, the inanity of religions/politics/powers.
    That we can suffer wars over Islamic terrorists with daily attacks around the world, but not speak a joke about them, shows how much terrorism works against a timid people.

  24. ga gamba says

    “I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen,” wrote a contrite Louis C.K. when his misconduct was publicised.

    Over at The Atlantic Megan Garber writes: “C.K.’s promise to listen and learn, it seems, was itself a lie. . . . The set suggests that while C.K. may have been up to a lot of activities over the past year, listening and learning have not been among them.” (Emphasis author’s)

    I will now step back and take a long time to listen.

    Hold on. Where’s this learning Garber (mis)read and accuses C.K. of lying about? It appears it is a fabrication of her own. She attached the requirement that C.K. comply with the diktats of her camp. But perhaps C.K. didn’t lie and did learn something. After paying attention to what was said, he evaluated the words, found the demand he obey people like Garber was unreasonable, and he decided to reject it.

    Garber and others have an alternate understanding of listen: that of the exasperated mum. “Why don’t you listen to me?!” usually follows an earlier command to do something, such as take out the rubbish or tidy one’s room, that was not heeded. C.K. is the naughty child.

    But before we dismiss Garber as an authoritarian arsehole, let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and assume there were instructions to change his offstage behaviour. Is C.K. still asking women if it’s OK to pull out little Louis and jack it in front of them? No. Is he sexually harassing women in other ways? Nope. Is he male gazing them? No new accusations of that either. Has he denounced #Metoo? Certainly not. It appears to me, admittedly a person who doesn’t monitor C.K.’s life, he has indeed modified his behaviour and no longer puts women in predicaments.

    C.K.’s recent onstage set, a performance, mocked nonbinary pronouns, used the word (brace yourselves) retarded, and ridiculed the authority given to those swept up in violent events.

    For Garber, it seems, C.K. violated other unvoiced demands that he submit to woke dogma entirely.

    C.K.’s new set, according to its leaked version, doesn’t merely punch down; it stomps, pettily, to the bottom. . . . The man who has so much, still, complaining about what he has lost, with no seeming interest in or regard for the people he has hurt along the way.. . . . It suggests that empathy itself is a fair-weather attitude, fragile and tenuous and, in the end, inconvenient. . . . In person, his jokes about the inconveniences of empathy have been commonly met with laughter. And with enthusiastic applause.

    And there it is. C.K. failed to comply with the instructions that certain groups are so privileged, presumably by perceived or claimed misfortune, they’re sacred. They are to be worshipped and not targeted for ridicule. Iconoclasm is intolerable. Further, empathy, which to my knowledge is not restricted to any particular class of people, morphs to a kind of noblesse oblige to be practiced by those who have “so much”. Certainly, Garber doesn’t show any empathy to C.K. I’m not attaching this requirement on empathy on her, but she attaches it to others. Ironic that the demand for empathy results in harshly judgmental words for those who fail to conform perfectly to the demand. Is that what empathy is about?

    Like much else in life, the expectations put on others are often far more stringent than the relaxed ones we put on ourselves. Perhaps Gerber ought to listen. And learn.

  25. It’s pretty clear that he’s being held to a different standard because of his sexual abuse revelations. The mob didn’t even want him returning to comedy and they’re eager to take offense to anything he says now.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      Yea, sexual abuse allegations and a confession tend to do that.

      Go ahead and tell your co-workers and customers that you’re a serial sexual predator and see how well that works out for you. I’m sure nobody will hold it against you.

  26. Chip says

    I’ve read this essay before, or variations on it.

    The appeal for freedom of expression was made many times during the cultural upheavals of the 60s and 70s, defending Lenny Bruce, Screw Magazine, George Carlin Ward Churchill, Robert Maplethorpe, and others.

    It is easy to the point of laziness to wave the banner of freedom, especially when it is in defense of things that don’t really threaten us.

    But the complexity, as always, is that a just and righteous society has both freedom and boundaries, and there isn’t a simple and easy method of determining where those two should intersect.

    In a just society, there will be things which are sacred and taboo. There is nothing wrong with an audience expressing their revulsion at things which are offensive, in fact it is a sign of a healthy functioning society.

    It should also be pointed out that there many different levels of social control of speech, ranging from government censorship to boycotts to mere social criticism.

    • ga gamba says

      It is easy to the point of laziness to wave the banner of freedom, especially when it is in defense of things that don’t really threaten us.

      You. It’s fine that these don’t don’t threaten you, but you don’t speak for us. These threaten me, and though it may be lazy do so, I’lll keep waving that banner.

      But the complexity, as always, is that a just and righteous society has both freedom and boundaries, and there isn’t a simple and easy method of determining where those two should intersect.

      Need we devote such effort to determine this? If there were only one source of info, entertainment, etc, you may have an argument. But we are in the era of abundance. A person can easily avoid those forms of entertainment and information that offend them whilst enjoying may other forms that appeal to them. The issue is busybodies, those who declare “I’m offended and I’m going to intrude into all spaces to demand you comply with my diktats.” There’s no live and let live.

      Years ago gays would ask, justifiably I think, “What does it matter to you what I do and with whom I do it?” The same need to be asked of the woke. Better still, leave us the fuck alone.

      In a just society, there will be things which are sacred and taboo.

      OK, who decides what is this just society and those things that are sacred and taboo? Does it require a simple majority, a large minority, or merely a preferred group awarded carte blanche to dictate people stay in their lane as they weave to and fro deciding things on our behalf?

      There is nothing wrong with an audience expressing their revulsion at things which are offensive, in fact it is a sign of a healthy functioning society.

      But the audience didn’t express revulsion. They laughed. It’s the woke hot takers who were not in the audience who are outraged. They’re free to have their say, and we may ridicule them. Well, not you…

      • Chip says

        You don’t think its odd that the writer declares that there is a “war” on comedy, a war which consists of…people freely speaking their mind about Louis CK?

        The writer feels the need to defend Louis, as if Louis is suffering somehow.
        Which he is! Louis is being shunned and ostracized, cast out of polite society.

        Which only illustrates the truth, that speech is a powerful tool of social control. Ridicule and scorn, social acceptance and exclusion have a long history of being used to enforce boundaries.

        Your question of “who decides” is a good one, one which society has always wrestled with and never found a perfect answer.

        But at least we can dispense with the idea that there are no boundaries, because there are, always things which, if said, will cause someone to be shunned and reviled.

        • ga gamba says

          But at least we can dispense with the idea that there are no boundaries, because there are, always things which, if said, will cause someone to be shunned and reviled.

          Shunned and reviled… by some people. Clearly, C.K. still attracts an audience and defenders. From my earlier comment I quoted a journalist who’s upset C.K. failed to heed her defined boundary: “In person, his jokes about the inconveniences of empathy have been commonly met with laughter. And with enthusiastic applause.”

          If delight is the common reaction, then what of that boundary?

          They, as well as the comedy club that booked C.K.’s appearance, don’t recognise the legitimacy of the boundary others claim exist. Ergo, boundaries are in flux. They may be so fluid to be rendered non-existent for a large minority and perhaps even the majority.

          What is the reason of a boundary? It’s a point or limit that indicates where two things become different, such as acceptable and unacceptable. Does a boundary exist in C.K.’s context? Certainly not. Even you had to hedge your words with, “… cast out of polite society.” This then raises the questions of what is polite society and where is the boundary between the impolite and polite worlds in this context? This requires a lot of fractionating to end up with the group – a small one likely – who agree on a boundary. I think you’re going to have a very hard time finding one that’s acknowledged by a majority. One would have to look to other more extreme behaviour, such as child abuse or puppy beating, to use to claim such clear delineation. Even then, it would be behaviour and not words that would most likely be the linchpin.

          There is an interesting paradox at the heart of this. Once, long ago, the ability to greatly influence public sense making and establishing boundaries was held by a select group of people. Not only did they need to be educated, which had its own many barriers, they also needed access to the tools of influence, such as printing presses, and their owners. Over time more people objected to a small group dominating sense making, they made their demands, and they too were included. Technological changes certainly aided this. As more were included, power was dispersed, and with that went the monopoly held by the few to make sense and set boundaries. I reckon people like Garber don’t long for the good ol’ days when power was held by others, yet she still wants to retain the concentration of power that existed then to set the boundaries. Her failure to understand that the demands to be included also diluted power, and this inability to see reality results in an ever more frantic game of whack a mole. “Why won’t they obey and remain obedient?!”

          It isn’t that the majority object to the dispersal and dilution of power that accompanies including more voices, it’s the attempt by some of these new power holders to reconsolidate all of it in their own hands to impose boundaries of their preference. This reveals an authoritarian streak that chills the blood of many.

          • Chip says

            I’m not seeing any authoritarianism here. No one is calling for Louis to be arrested.

            Everyone is really just using their free speech to say, “Christ, what an asshole.”

          • ga gamba says

            I’m not seeing any authoritarianism here. No one is calling for Louis to be arrested.

            Who said anything of arrest? This is a contrivance of your own, likely to wiggle yourself free from the boundary you foolhardily imposed on yourself. Authoritarian words and behaviour are not exclusive to government.

  27. codadmin says

    But, Ck Lewis is an sjw. His routines are leftist. The people he attacks are not important in the hierarchy. He never attacks leftists. He never attacks non-whites and he always attacks his white skin.

    The mauling of CK Lewis tells us how monster out this beast really is.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      You’ve not familiar with Louis CK at are, are you? Damn, you can’t even spell his name correctly.

      Fuck off, loser.

  28. Alphonse Credenza says

    It is not comedy; it’s irony. Comedy Central is Irony Central. Calling it comedy is just another de(con)structionist trick with language. Many young people have never known comedy, having seen miserable resentful facsimiles for decades that the generation of ’68 tried to put it its place.

    Comedy is never resentful, angry, critical, hateful or political. Instead, it is joyous, loving, wholesome and uplifting. Think Laurel and Hardy: they demonstrate comedy.

    On the other hand, George Carlin’s masterful delivery masked his intense resentment and poisonous mistanthropy. Louis CK, whose name must have been chosen for its similarity to saying F*CK, lobs his perverse and unfunny toxic nature and where it lands, BEWARE!

    • jakesbrain says

      George Carlin had an inexhaustible amount of wit, but over time he gradually stopped being funny. There’s a difference.

    • ganjagym says

      “Louis CK, whose name must have been chosen for its similarity to saying F*CK”.
      Not really. His original surname is ‘Szekely’, inherited from his Hungarian Jewish grandpa, which is approximatively pronounced ‘CK’, and way easier to remember by the average American. An innuendo for the f-word would be too farfetched for me given the length of his first name and lack of similarity with it.

  29. Nakatomi Plaza says

    You’re being hilariously ironic, aren’t you?

  30. I’m not a SJW, I’m not personally offended, and I don’t want to censor him. I just don’t listen to him. The thing is, he’s the one implying that he can’t change the channen.

    “You pushed some fat kid in the way and now I gotta listen to you talking?”

    Who says he has to listen? Should people he doesn’t agree with stop talking so that he doesn’t have to listen? He’s free to say what he wants, but he comes across as a jerk.

    It’s ironic. People are criticized for saying that they don’t like his speech, but that’s exactly what he’s doing. I don’t want to censor him or anyone. But if it’s okay for him to say that they should stop talking, isn’t it okay for other people to point out what a troll he is?

    It sounds like a lot of CK fans are too sensitive and easily offended.

  31. Itzik Basman says

    ‪I’ve not read this thread save for the first two or three posts. I smelled trouble with this piece right from the start:‬

    ‪…Comedy has had a well-understood purpose: to entertain, to push boundaries and to keep us honest…‬

    ‪That’s, first of all, three purposes. And “well-understood” by whom? Not me for instance. The only stated purpose that has any resonance is “to entertain.” The other too purposes take comedy too pretentiously seriously and too prescriptively. And the first purpose isn’t well said for being too obvious and failing to complete the thought: the purpose of comedy is to entertain us—ya’ think?—by being funny. How did this guy, a comedian, miss that? If boundaries get pushed, bonus; if we’re kept honest, double bonus; so long as what does that is funny. ‬

    ‪That said, I’m not going to take this rest of this overdone argument apart, the inhibition and reduction of comedy by the PC and SJW sensibility. It seems a variation on every argument published by Quillette by the way. I say let the market decide, as I note at the end of what I quote do myself in answer to what friend asked me about the 5’ and change of the Louis CK that we both had heard:‬

    ….‪Ok here goes.‬

    ‪I just listened to it.‬

    ‪My response is much like yours.‬

    ‪First off, I too never was a big enthusiast of the guy.‬

    ‪Once for my eldest daughter’s birthday, I took her to a Sarah Silverman hosted comedy revue of different stand ups doing bits, with the piece de la resistance being Louis CK. It may be hard for comedians to get me to laugh at the best of times but the preceding acts I thought were mediocre. He at least, for all his talk about jerking off and how depressing his life is, was polished and professional and comedically substantial. My kid and I both thought that. But even noticing that, he didn’t do much for my funny bone. I’m not sure he even raised a smile.‬

    ‪So I found this 5’ and change not at all funny and I sensed there was either a laugh track or the few goons I heard laughing uproariously were paid stooges, unlikely, were on drugs or dunk, maybe, or were high and caught up in the (dubious) thrill of seeing him live. ‬

    ‪Once when I was in law school a whole gang of us went to see Robert Klein at a Toronto club. We all thought he was neurotically hilarious, edgy, funny, incisive, outraged. We all laughed out loud. I can’t remember ever laughing so hard at any stand up. Even though I can’t remember any of his act, I still remember our unanimous view of how good he was. He was everything CK was not. Here I find CK decidedly unfunny. Zero he said offended me in any political or ideological way such that he should be shut down or institutional action be taken against him. And I’d give him sway over the outrage machine if that false choice were put on me‬

    ‪I thought what he said about Parkland and the kids bearing witness was witless and tasteless and not at all how you describe part of what comedians do—cutting against convention, satirizing social absurdities, pissing on certain proprieties, puncturing pomposity (to borrow a tired trope), taking the piss out of those who deserve it and all like that. Here, CK on Parkland and on the kids bearing witness, fell less than flat. It was ponderously stupid and self parodic, like someone mocking Sully after he made a safe landing on the Hudson or goofing on the 1st responders who went into harm’s way on 9/11, many dying for all that, true heroes. ‬

    ‪The Parkland kids weren’t heroes as such but after what they went through they had a halo around them at least for a while, at least for the reasonable aftermath. After that David Hogg to my mind got too self important for his own good and could have been some comic fodder. And on him as a microcosm, CK in this bit had a comedic point, on kids’ self righteous self importance these days. I didn’t find it funny but it was at least fertile comic ground. Same with some excessive aspects of gender fluidity and the LBGQT police, especially when the policing is done by teenagers. Just here again, I didn’t find him either funny or piquant. ‬

    ‪Parkland is different. It’s obtuse to go after targets who aren’t in any way targets and don’t deserve going after especially when they’re kids. The height of CK’s stupidity is his comment about, paraphrase, “What’s the big deal about kids dying, being shot en masse.” Logically, he must think Sandy Hook is ripe for laughs. ‬

    ‪What makes kids dying, being murdered en masse, is that, duh, they’re kids. I remember watching an episode of Family Guy, and it did a bit mocking kids in a cancer ward. It disgusted me and Seth MacFarlane was forever in my bad books after that. I saw him hosting the Oscars and I’ve seen him elsewhere. I’ve not found him funny. In fact, I prefer CK to him because for all my indifference to CK’s  comedy: he’s a least not pretentious—he brings self deprecation to mystical heights—not smug and not self righteous. ‬

    ‪I heartily oppose the PC sensibility even as I wonder whether US libel laws are too tough compared to other common law jurisdictions. The jury in my head is still out on that one and I can see the arguments both ways. And I’m pretty strong against censorship. So short of defamation or criminal incitement, I’m for letting comedians say whatever they want and, so to say, letting “the market decide.” And it does in its own way for better or worse, the PC sensibility and the influence it wields being part of the market, market here standing for the unregulated play of social forces that ultimately don a thumbs up or thumbs down, my own opinions apart.‬

    ‪Maybe, just a theory, CK calculated this bit would be well received by those reacting against the continuous machinery of outrage. Maybe not. Not a terrible calculation in fact. But in my view that’s an incidental conjecture. The primary criterion in his case should be, I think, is he funny, and bonus in that if he’s smart and truth telling. ‬

    ‪On that measure, I’d give this 5’ .05 out of 5, 1 out of 10, 10 out of 100….

    • Dr. Misha says

      The pronoun “I” is used 35 times in this short comment, and the count is relevant as it demonstrates the state of one’s mind (and I didn’t even count “me”‘s).

      Clearly, Kisin’s article is not about the quality of entertainment and personal preferences but the future of comedy. We are moving toward universal censorship, which includes the comedy. That’s not funny. The alternatives to the leftist ideology are viciously attacked, comedians are thrown out from the university campuses, any topic can become taboo. Leftists have no sense of humor when it comes to the orthodoxy, and soon – if we do nothing – the US will be adding the missing SR to the full ugly acronym. That’s what the leftist want and they are dead(ly) serious about it. Sorry if you don’t find any levity in it.

  32. Eh, it’s a storm in a teacup. Let the SJW snowflakes be outraged, it’s what they do best. In the meantime, the rest of us sane people will be laughing along with Louis CK and other comedians. I don’t give a hoot about their politics or their private lives as long as they follow the one rule of good comedy: be funny.

  33. Sydney says

    I followed and enjoyed Louis CK for years. I didn’t love his gross stuff, but that’s okay. When the story of his semi-public masturbation emerged I was – simply said – grossed out. Ick. What woman can possibly relate to that? I took my fandom and fled.

    But over the year he finally won me back as a fan, and here’s why:

    (1) I kept hoping that the women comics that he “victimized” would answer his bizarre behaviour through some good comedy of their own. They didn’t. So, as tough-talking comics they didn’t tell CK to screw himself when he asked for their audience, which was bizarre. They were comics, after all, and not Mennonites at a church tea. Where was the, “Louis, go fuck yourself! Get that thing away from me!”? Then, worse yet, they failed to turn his behaviour into any funny material. I waited for them to pop up and promote their talents and jokes, but they disappeared. They lost my loyalty.

    (2) SJW outrage at him made me rethink my disgust. Turns out I’m more repulsed by millennial SJW totalitarianism than I am at a fat, funny guy asking politely if he can masturbate in front of women.

    (3) I heard the entire one-hour set bootlegged by the guy sitting beside the drunk,cackling idiot, and CK was funny. Not all of it; but no comic is ALL funny.

    I’m back on Team Louie. Though I wish he would clear the air and do some material on his semi-public masturbation habit. What is that about? If he can joke about his ice cream addiction, then he can certainly deliver some material about his other problematic urge.

  34. Skydancer says

    The entire world has become entirely humorous, full of angular self-righteousness on both sides of the culture wars.

    True Humor is the all-transcending quality of happiness, than can persist or otherwise constantly come forward in the living being under all conditions, whether the conditions appear to be positive
    or negative.

    You wont find such humor in the ranks of the right-wing culture wars warriors most of which are obviously very unhappy, angry and oft-times full of murderously reasonable intentions.

    One of the original humorless right wing pooh-bars was Oliver Cromwell, he who abolished the Court Jester. He who orchestrated the ethnic cleansing of Catholics in Ireland.

    • Skydancer says

      And of course one of the most humorless man that ever lived was John Calvin who, in one way or another, is the god-father or humorless lurking presence of the grim faced right-wing Protestants in the USA, and elsewhere too.

      • Itzik Basman says

        Hey, you can count at least to 35. How cool is that. As to having said substantive things, I count 0.

        That’s 1 I to be sure.

        • Itzik Basman says

          My comment is in response to “Dr. Misha” not Skydancer,

  35. Sander Malschaert says

    Konstantin is so right about this I could Kis’im

  36. C. Leslie says

    The new year’s eve broadcast of ‘Live at the Apollo’ on BBC1 gave the impression of a censor standing stage-left with a clipboard and a scowl. The result? Lazy toilet-humour for an hour, a couple of sanctioned Piers Morgan jokes for an ‘edgy’ veneer.

    This is a bigger problem in the UK than the US. There is no British ‘South Park’.

  37. scribblerg says

    Oh – so now it’s happening to you, so I should care? We can wind this smearing of everything the Left doesn’t like from a uniform front in the media, academy and Deep State back to Joe McCarthy.

    Oh yeah – if you aren’t aware that McCarthy was the one who was “blacklisted” and smeared, that’s because the MSM lies nonstop. In fact, “The Venona Decrypts” – which we classified for 50 years unnecessarily – finally proved that McCarthy and the many others in congress and other parts of American politics were 100% correct about communist penetration of our govt by Soviet agents and agents of influence. I know, this must seem like a distraction – like what does Joe McCarthy have to do with this?

    Well I hear rightwingers often refer to the “dark period of McCarthyism” regularly. Most seem unaware that beyond the Venona information, we also had open access to Soviet KGB archives for a short window of time in the ’90s under Yeltsin in Russia, and it also showed every last person on McCarthy’s list was indeed working for the Soviets.

    So fast forward to this comedian standing up and decrying how he’s being slimed and blackballed and smeared by Leftsts as though this isn’t standard operating procedure for Leftists.

    Wake up. You are merely the latest victim of almost a century now of vicious Leftist propaganda campaigns designed to suppress dissent. This is nothing new.

    The real question is when will folks actually do something about this? We need new laws and real enforcement of our rights to speech, to liberty. to be free from harassment and to associate. We need to make a new civil rights law that expands public accommodation law to also include viewpoint discrimination, making it illegal for real and digital properties open to the general public to discriminate based on political viewpoint.

    We need to get loud and demonstrate ourselves. What about say a “Million Free American March on DC”? Oh now, can’t do that though, can we? Cuz that means this “centrist libertarian” comedian and his leftie friend would have to ally with the right and well, that’s just not cool…

  38. Corey says

    Joe McCarthy – 100% right!

    What a rallying cry. 😂

    • jakesbrain says

      There’s no contradiction there. You can be 100% right about something and still be a poisonous asshole.

  39. Pingback: New top story on Hacker News: The New War on Comedy – Outside The Know

  40. Pingback: New top story on Hacker News: The New War on Comedy – News about world

  41. If we leave out the information that we have about Louis C.K. offstage behavior for a moment, which is a little difficult to do since the media keeps reiterating it, and base this critique entirely upon this particular performance, the bottom line is that it’s just bad material. Not social commentary in any significant way (not that it’s an exclusive task of the comedian to do so), but mostly adolescent, insecure, reactionary remarks. It’s completely beneath his previous work, which was often simultaneously lofty, astute, and crude commentary about life, himself, and society in general.

    I won’t comment on the social justice left here (I am not sure that the left or right even exist, but instead have just been replaced with various factions of belligerent, desperate reactionary special interest groups). I will leave that extended commentary to people like Jordan Peterson, Noam Chomsky, Jerry Seinfeld, etc.

    The problem with Louis’ performance isn’t that he skewered something in this particular performance, it’s that he did it in an ill conceived, amateurish way. I guess his judgement is still cloudy. Too bad, he used to have sharp wit and an even sharper tongue that made me laugh. Now I just sigh and ask myself why is anyone paying any attention to him with this material that a half drunk ivy league frat boy could write?

    • Shecky says

      Part of the subtext here is that thanks to the current blacklisting of Louis CK from the venues he used to headline (to say nothing of mass media,) he can’t step onstage for 15 minutes and try out new material without the entirety of his set being recorded and distributed by his detractors the next day, complete with out-of-context quotes designed to prove what a monster he is, all to generate rage-clicks. (This article is part of that outrage cycle, specifically the “backlash to the backlash” part.)

      The process most comedians at that level use to build a comedy special’s worth of material is to try things out in smaller venues and develop a set. They can discard bits that didn’t work and hone the bits that do, and over time impose structure. If you are used to the polished set that a comedian produces after a yearlong stint spent in smaller venues developing the material, any unauthorized bootleg recording you hear from this particular guy at this particular time is going to seem half-baked.

      C.K. has always walked a tightrope where he says terrible things, but balances them with self-deprecating humor and flashes of emotional insight, so that the audience could feel reassured that he didn’t really mean it when he said those terrible things, and that they are not by extension terrible people for laughing at it. Now that trust has been damaged, perhaps irreparably. He could do the exact routine that slayed a couple years ago, and it would not be heard the same way. He simply does not enjoy that level of audience trust anymore, and likely never will. Now when he says mean things they are taken at face value.

      The current woke position on CK is that he should be no-platformed, the venues that host him boycotted. That’s the part of this that has broader implications for comedy.

  42. Drew says

    This whole thing is a non-story… Louis has not been censored. He’s a famous comedian. Some people didn’t like his comedy routine. If he can’t deal with that, then he is in the wrong profession.

    As for Patel, well I personally don’t agree with what happened, but at the end of the day, the organization (not the student audience, mind) that contracted him to perform didn’t like his jokes, so… I think it’s within their right (although distasteful) to ask him to leave.

    So that leaves us with… what story exactly? Outrage that other people have opinion? *yawn*

  43. ryan says

    Although I agree overall, I think you’re being misleading when it comes to Netflix, you failed to mention that the critical episode was remove ONLY IN Saudi Arabia. That’s a different ball of wax where a foreign laws become a factor. Not saying it’s good but it’s doesn’t fit in the “sjw” category

  44. Bhazor says

    Hey bros.

    Just popping by and reminding everyone that calling a comedian not funny is not censorship. Ok bros?

    Carry on now with your little circle jerk.

  45. Kyle says

    Has anyone ever seen a funny Marxist? Or a happy one?

  46. JimW says

    We are unconsciously validating these people by even listening to them – not to mention reporting on their crazy ideas as if they were to be taken seriously.

    I think that maybe we are passing by the best response: comic dismissal. Do NOT respond or argue – not a single word. Simply look at these Leftie nutcases incredulously, as if they had horns growing out of their heads, and laugh at them. Just laugh – loudly, uproariously, with genuine conviction. An uncontrolled belly-laughing guffaw. Then turn around and walk away.

  47. Whoa this article is all over the place. This whole thing is Fox news audience porn.

    SJWs are equated in the same article with Netflix giving into Saudi. Nice. And all Millennials are SJWs and scared.

    The issue I have with Louis CK is he exposed himself to other women and used his power to bully others. His jokes are irrelevant.

    When you watch his material (used to be a fan) after knowing what he did, its creepy. The Parkland jokes were meh but you know back in the good ol days you didn’t have AR-15s either so quit this “kids these days are weak amirite?” crap.

    • Shenme Shihou says

      “The Parkland jokes were meh but you know back in the good ol days you didn’t have AR-15s either so quit this “kids these days are weak amirite?” crap.”

      Semi Auto weapons go back almost 100 years there boss.

  48. Morgan Foster says

    The article isn’t about whether these comedians are funny.

    It’s about whether society as a whole should allow them to tell jokes about retarded children in a privately owned club where alcohol is served without making a big deal about it in the media.

    I’m okay with it.

  49. The most disturbing posts here are the ones here that claim that there isn’t any problem, that comedians aren’t being censored, merely being told – by a huge online media and twitter mob threatening their livelihood, but I digress – that they are not funny. No biggie! it’s just mobs of people hsyterically shouting that they’re not funny and they need to shut up! That’s all!

    In order to believe this you have to willfully blind yourself.

    Nimesh Patel was literally pulled off the stage for doing jokes about race. The author refused to sign a ‘behavioral agreement” and was told to make the jokes ‘respectful and kind.” Netflix pulled an episode of “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” for a joke about the killing of Saudi Arabian writer Jamal Khashoggi. Charlie Hebdo won’t make fun of Islam at all anymore–neither will anyone in the West. South Park was ordered to pull images of Mohammed from its show and satirized that itself; then that episode became unavailable. Now they avoid Islam at all. On a worse level, Scottish comedian Mark Meechan recorded the dog giving a Nazi salute to “Sieg Hiel” and was *arrested.* Arrested!! (I’m a Jew. I thought this was funny. But if I didn’t think it was funny, that’s still not relevant.)

    And still we have people here pretending everything is peachy. Just write funny jokes and there will be no problem! Oh and avoid anything about Islam, anything about someone whose race or gender or sexual orientation is not your own, anything negative about women’s bodies–I could go on. But they’re not doing anything at all! Just avoid the topics they say, or else.

  50. Pingback: The New War on Comedy - Market Research Foundation

  51. Pingback: The New War on Comedy | CauseACTION

  52. Sirius says

    While I found this article to have merit in it’s criticism of the reactionary and high-strung pseudo-moralism of some elements of the left to be perfectly reasonable, I was perplexed to see so many comments that either didn’t care or didn’t understand the problematic aura surrounding Louis CK. I’ve long enjoyed his comedy but having discovered that he has routinely acted in sexually inappropriate ways does relate to his work.

    One can still enjoy his comedy (or a Kevin Spacey movie), but it should be obvious why people are upset with him capitalizing on his fame after these revelations. There have been plenty of overblown statements regarding the #MeToo movement, but the push-back against “boys will be boys” sexual assault and inappropriate conduct is a long time coming and a positive development, despite the problems within the movement.

    It’s dispiriting to see such a lack of nuance in discussion. Is “woke” SJW hyperventilation problematic? Yes. Is the conduct of people like CK also problematic, also yes.

    The core danger in my mind is that such trends evince a preoccupation with tangentially important issues when so many existential crises face our society, from ecological disaster and creeping totalitarianism, to crumbling infrastructure and water contamination, to the failed drug war and the prison industrial complex to the surveillance state. SJ “warriors” ought to prioritize issues that are of real danger to freedom and health- then worry about jokes in poor taste.

    • DontTakeMeSeriously says

      “Is “woke” SJW hyperventilation problematic? Yes. Is the conduct of people like CK also problematic, also yes.”

      Do we have an agreed upon dispute resolution system in our society? Yes
      Has it been utilized in C.K’s case? No

      Yet, we are to accept the verdict from a vocal mob, as though it were legitimate.

      The correct answer to “Is the conduct of people like CK also problematic?” should be a resounding: “I don’t know” (heck, at least a “maybe”).

      What’s alleged to have happened could run the gamut from a misunderstanding all the way through to assault/harassment.

      You may wish to add to your list of existential crises; the erosion of our principles, and the subsequent obfuscation of such by sometimes very intelligent, well intentioned people.

    • @Sirius, “I was perplexed to see so many comments that either didn’t care or didn’t understand the problematic aura surrounding Louis CK. I’ve long enjoyed his comedy but having discovered that he has routinely acted in sexually inappropriate ways does relate to his work.”

      There are two major reasons I disagree with you.

      1. That word, ‘problematic,’ is used only one way now–as a sort of Maost style flag indicating the person may well need to be ‘dealt with,’ i.e., expelled permanently from SJW group membership for a set of undefined crimes that pretend to be about moral transgressions but are actually about failure to conform to dogmatic group values as defined by the SJW. It matters because mainstream media is fully in the SJW camp. Slightly less important is the identity of the person–a lot more leeway is given to a leftist gay brown woman, say, than a white straight man. Louis cK is dealt with much more harshly than, say, Lena Dunham, who compared her Jewish boyfriend to a dog (literally, in the New Yorker) and who detailed how she raped her little sister. Tearful explanations work for her because she’s Of The Elect and the Right Group and Says the Right Things. But Louis cK masturbating to consenting women (while very embarrassing) is a sin ‘problematic’ enough to send him to hell.

      As to the crime–let’s say someone has been terrorizing his neighborhood for years with violent thefts and drug dealing, and then becomes an artist. That is generally not ‘problematic.’ The crimes, that is, don’t have to do with actual crimes but with SJW sins. Furthermore, the sins are not redeemable. Is it sin without Jesus. You are permanently cast out unless you beat your breast, declare that you are a worm, attack anyone outside the collective, ad conform zealously with SJW values. So if Louis CK had groveled, lay low for a while longer, sent out dozens of tweets attacking Trump, groveled more, and kept his comedy permanently conforming to SJW values, donated money to SJW causes – while abjectly groveling – he might have been granted forgiveness and been permitted to be a comedian again– as long as he permanently avoided jokes about Islam, sexism, racism, gays, women, etc. Any slip up, and his provisional status as a Sinner would be permanent.

      2. I 100% disagree with you that the moral status of a person has *anything* to do with his/her art. I speak as an artist and as a Jew who has experienced lots of anti-semitism. If I don’t like the comedian, I *don’t watch him.* I loathe Samantha Bee, for instance, and find her repugnant, e.g. for calling Ivanka Trump a ‘feckless cunt’ – I find it really ‘problematic’ lol, in that it is incredibly sexist – but I don’t call for her to be cast out. I just don’t watch her and fervently hope she goes away. Please.

      Art has nothing to do with the moral status of the artist. Artists are not priests. Especially not comedians. It is a comedian’s *job* to offend, to shake things up, to be wicked. They are the court jester. Whether they are a mean bastard in private life really has no bearing at all to their art.

      On a practical note, your view on moral status is naive in the extreme. If you have lived life at all, or have your eyes open, you will realize that it is impossible to gauge what is going on in someone’s heart and life. Let he who is without sin and all. I’m willing to bet there are many comedians out there who have done far worse than Louis cK but we just haven’t found out about it.

      Finally, who gets to define the SJW crime? As a woman, I don’t find what Louis cK did wrong at all-sleazy and embarrassing, yes. But come on. Do you know how many women sleep with men to get ahead? (Obviously I’m not condoning rape or harassment.) This was consensual. To pretend these poor women were forced in any way is infantilizing. We are adults. We know what we’re getting into when a powerful man invites us to his hotel. And what, we’re suddenly incapable of leaving? Saying no? Stop it. Women are not simultaneously ultra powerful 21st century warriors and meek Victorian flowers.

      No one is saying ‘boys will be boys.’ No one is condoning rape. What people are saying is that comedians who stray from SJW dictates should not be silenced in the their work.

      • darko x says

        Louis is still funny to me.
        I worked with him. He did his dirty thing only when girls were in the room. So I never knew. It embarrassed those women so much they felt they couldn’t talk about it. Finally he put one young woman in a damned if I do, damned if I don’t position. She didn’t realize he was harmless. That he’d never try to get revenge on her if she refused. . .How could she have known?
        If there was a climate where people could talk openly about these things it wouldn’t have gone so far, he’d have found someone appropriate to perform for. Someone would have told someone who’d have known someone else- it would’ve been like, “Hey, my cousin’s got a girlfriend who likes to watch guys jerk off!” &There you go, a win-win situation, a happy ending.
        So I’m all for shouting out “me too” as quick as possible whenever someone does inappropriate stuff. Get everything out in the open. Minimize the pain. Minimize the shame. But these are still early days in the whole transparency process. Stay calm, it’ll work out for the best, I swear.
        Btw, This painting people SJW as if it were some kind of ultimate negative to be concerned about injustice really sucks. We should all want to bring about the age of freedom understanding communication and kindness (f*u*c*k) as soon as possible. Also people (like me) hould know when to shut up

  53. Who would’ve thought that 60 years later we’d need a new Lenny Bruce to go to war against the forces of repression. In the short period of time since I’ve noticed him, Konstantin seems to me to be the best bet to play that role. Keep up the good work. I for one will be rooting for you.

    • Morgan Foster says

      @Bklyn Birny

      Who would have thought that the 1960s was the high mark of personal and artistic freedom in America?

  54. Pingback: The New War on Comedy - News Time Update

  55. Pingback: Den nye krigen mot humor: Når alt er krenkende | xstra.no

  56. I can’t keep track of all the labels. Lots of label-ism going on–very confusing, I think I’ll take a walk in the park and listen to the trees. I often see some funny squirrels, even funny birds there. Sometimes I see little kids having fun there with smiling parents doting on them. The kids haven’t learned label-ism yet.

  57. Abu Nudnik says

    The only thing I’d ad to the author’s comments is that by calling words ‘violence,’ some people are justifying real violence and saying it’s justifiable and legal self-defence. This is a very dangerous precipice.

  58. This is an interesting read.
    There’s a war on comedy, and it’s mainly due to powerless people saying they’re offended, then congratulating themselves when consequences are dished out, and tasting a shred of power.

    Power is the most addictive thing in this world, so weak and unforfilled people, constantly chase outrage, hoping it’ll lead to that feeling of accomplishment.

    Regarding Louis C.K
    “He rapes, but he saves” – Dave Chappelle

    • Sydney says

      @Chillz,

      Yikes. That, “He rapes…” bit by Dave Chappelle was specifically about Bill Cosby, who has since been convicted of sexual assault. It’s a fact that Bill Cosby drugged, assaulted, and raped scores of minor girls and women. Horrible. That Chappelle bit centred on the conflicted feelings of the American black community toward Cosby; meaning Cosby’s legacy versus his purported (he hadn’t yet been convicted) crimes.

      That bit was NOT about Louis CK, who evidently waved his penis around confused and unhappy adults in a weird workplace-harassment type situation. CK has admitted to masturbating in front of adult women who unhappily consented to his weird behaviour. That’s a LONG way from Bill Cosby’s crimes, and nowhere near Cosby’s complicated place in the American black psyche (according to Chappelle’s bit). Important distinction.

      Here’s the thing: Part of the problem with the humourless and totalitarian SJW attack on CK – and by extension, part of the problem with #BelieveAllWomen, #MeToo, and the current left’s hatred of males – is that it conflates horrendous crimes like Cosby’s with bizarre but largely inconsequential behaviour issues like CK’s.

  59. Pingback: The New War on Comedy, and Free Speech, by the Intolerant Left – aladdinsmiraclelamp

  60. Pingback: The New War on Comedy – Quillette – Rob's Blog

  61. Writeby says

    This is part of a much, much bigger war:

    It’s a war which combatants hold an anti-ideological creed of disintegration—of denial—denial of ideas and ideals; denial of values, principles and order; denial of existence even. Negation—a screeching ‘No!’ flung at the Universe.

    These combatants render to nothing—to nihil—in the name of negation. In more basic terms, it venerates, quite literally, nothingness—the void, the zero; more than a death worshipper, more than a killer, it wants to destroy that in which life thrives: it wants to extinguish reality.

  62. KiwiInOz says

    It’s a pity that Billy Connolly has recently been declared dead. In his prime he’d be telling these sanctimonious prigs to fuck right off.

  63. Hutch says

    “Twitter blue ticks and their sidekicks in the mainstream media continue to churn out clickbait about faux outrages. We are now in the bizarre position where what is and isn’t allowed in comedy is determined by sanctimonious writers who’ve never been in a comedy club.”

    *zippity zoppity*

    “Twitter blue ticks and their sidekicks in the mainstream media continue to churn out clickbait about faux outrages. We are now in the bizarre position where what is and isn’t allowed in video games is determined by sanctimonious writers who’ve never really been interested in the medium or actually play games.”

  64. scubajim says

    Love your podcast. I don’t always agree with you or your guests but I am NOT triggered and I enjoy hearing them. Keep up the great work.

  65. darko x says

    There’ll always be prudes, left &right. And they will (try to) censor. But! ‘Twas the right killed Lenny Bruce. It’s the right that’s repressed drug users, gays, minorities, women, the poor, scientists, visionaries of all stripes, comedians.

    These days ’tis mostly- not exclusively!- the right that reads Quillette, searching for new ways to neutralize recent gains in human rights.

    Hear the one about the skunk that suffered terribly from natural flatulence?

    • Stoic Realist says

      @darko x

      “These days ’tis mostly- not exclusively!- the right that reads Quillette, searching for new ways to neutralize recent gains in human rights.”

      Barring a definition of ‘the right’ that consists of you allocating anyone whose sensibilities do not match your own to it do you have a single shred of objective evidence to back this up?

      To me it seems like a lazy attempt to scoop everyone who doesn’t agree with you up into one group and then dismiss them by applying an unprovable, unfalsifiable pejorative (in your opinion) to them so you don’t have to engage with the actual arguments and ideas being presented. But if you have access to some secret trove of information that gives you incontrovertible proof as to the political leanings of every Quillette reader and commenter I am willing to be proven wrong.

      The same holds for your assertion as to their motivations. Feel free to offer some proof for that beyond ‘I say so’ or ‘I feel so’.

  66. I might have some sympathy if the man was actually funny. Granted, humour is a subjective thing. But maybe this is an opportunity for fans to think about what in the comic offal of Lewis CK’s career they ever found funny to begin with.

  67. I used to perform on stage as a comic. It was equal parts frightening and transcendent on most nights. Of course balancing these cases depended on the audience and the time of the show. Second show, Friday night, for example, was usually tough mostly because the crowd had already had a few drinks and had worked a full day. Comments from the crowd were always to be expected on these nights. During one such show, in 1992, I recall a brilliant set being offered by a very talented comic. Even now, as I check my own bias, I remember thinking how the material being delivered seemed to walk that fine line, smiling while turning a screw into our cultural sensibilities.

    About half-way into the set, an inebriated woman took issue with the comic’s treatment of gender differences. “That’s not funny,” she proclaimed. While I can’t get into the individual heads of the audience members, there were plenty who obviously disagreed. As did I. It WAS funny. But I recall how odd it felt watching this performer get policed.

    So is Lois CK. I refuse to make excuses for his boorish behavior, but I also lament that today’s cultural sensibilities are so fragile, and so personal. The “Safety Culture” is one that can’t withstand screws being turned. It lacks resilience just like so many of us raised to expect praise and support of our self-esteem… which is kinda’ funny.

  68. Somapanam says

    The problem is today’s generation do not have any “tolerance” or “resilience” whatsoever. Everyone is a complainer today and I am not sure if that is because of the widespread ways they can express themselves to the world through social media. Before widespread social media, it was difficult talking certain issues with people face to face but now it is OK for everyone to sit behind the invisible wall of social media and comment on anything and everything even though they are not experts in any of the fields. The things they say in social media nowadays would have definitely resulted in physical fights if said in person and I am very sure half of these so called social media cowards would not open their mouth in person.
    The problem in today’s world is entitlement and lack of tolerance towards everything.

    • Noodles Romanov says

      But the “problem” with LCK’s comments about the survivors of school shootings is that he is exhibiting exactly this behaviour.

      Where is LCK’s “tolerance” for a person who has been through a horrific event? His joke about “you pushed a fat kid in the way and now I have to listen to you” is saying… what? Is he calling for these children to be silenced? Surely not.

      Why isn’t LCK subject to the standard retort: “Well no one is forcing you to listen!”

      The problem is that he just didn’t think through what his joke implies in the face of the reality of a real school shooting that really happened.

      Some “fat kid” probably did die in that shooting. Someone out there – probably a bunch of people – has to listen to or deal with the reality that LCK is joking about how their son died in a school shooting. Like… is that not… I mean… isn’t that just horrible? Isn’t it mean to make fun of someone who died in a school shooting? Or is the contention that “the fat kid” mentioned in the joke doesn’t count as person, just as set-dressing or a punchline or whatever?

      LCK is also directly accusing the school shooting survivor of the worst kind of cowardice, in fact of committing what would, in another context, be a war crime: using a person as a human shield.

      How is this funny? What was his process? “Oh ho ho the image of someone pushing a fat kid into a hail of bullets is funny to me, I’m going to work with that…”

      The basic premise of the joke – that kids who talk about their experience in a shooting are boring – is wrong. A person who survived a school shooting IS INTERESTING. It does make them interesting. Their experience is relevant and contemporary.

      What he should have made fun of is people who had to take a day off work and see a counsellor because they saw reportage of a school shooting three states over, on the television.

      If you want to make fun of someone for shrieking that they nearly died, DON’T PICK SOMEONE WHO ACTUALLY NEARLY DIED.

      • Stoic Realist says

        @noodles romanov

        I am not sure I would use the word ‘interesting’ to describe the situation, but I will agree that the story of a survivor of such a shooting is ‘newsworthy’. ‘Relevant’ is a different matter. It is relevant to them, to their families, and on an emotional level. Is it relevant on a policy level? Probably not. Being shot at does not instantly convey expertise on the subject of gun policy, effacacy of solutions, constitutionally, or even factual cause. While it does give the person an emotional story to tell it is more likely to generate an irrational perspective than a rational one.

        If the point of the joke is that being shot at doesn’t give them any special knowledge of the field of gun laws and the best methods to prevent a future shooting then it is probably on the money. I am old enough to remember that there were Challenger jokes within days of it exploding. So lets not pretend that this is the first time a tragedy was ever turned into a joke. Nor will it be the last.

  69. Insightful comment section. So far I have learned that:

    1. Criticizing immoral behavior is called “virtue signaling.”
    2. Understanding and recognizing discrimination and prejudice is perpetuating “victimhood culture.”
    3. Being offended is a conscious choice and sign of weakness of character.

    • 1. No, virtue signaling doesn’t preclude the existence of virtue. Donating to a college is virtuous, donating a building with your name on it may be virtuous but is definitely virtue signaling. The signaling part is more about seeming good than being good. Tsk-tsking about the Pariah Du Jour on social media is almost always signaling, and has much more to do with demonstrating group affiliation than with accomplishing some objective good.
      2. If there are social benefits to claiming victimhood, do the number of victims increase? If their are social penalties imposed, even by omission, on non-victims, do new claims of victim status proliferate?
      3. If being offended affords leverage to the offended party, are people more likely to be offended? Does the bar for offense get lower?

  70. Pingback: Today’s Cultural Engineers The arbiters of taste loathe their audiences. Joel Kotkin | RUTHFULLY YOURS

  71. BobbyV says

    “The vision of a perfectible society leads inevitably to the gulag.” Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

Comments are closed.