License To Ill? Why Freedom of Speech Doesn’t Mean Freedom From Your Speech

Here’s to hoping everyone had a great weekend.
Chances are that your weekend couldn’t have been more of an epic fail than it was for comedians Kathy Griffin & Bill Maher.

Kathy felt that it was time to dig a hole for her career by posting a senseless, tasteless shock photo of her holding Donald Trump’s severed head. Bill Maher apparently thought it was ok to use the N-word on live tv in an improvised joke about slavery.

2 very different incidents.
2 very different responses.
But both widely debated on the premise of 1 common myth:
that there is a special comedic license for
funnymen and women to say whatever they’d like.

Dear Comedians, telling jokes for a living doesn’t give you special liscence to be an ass.
You’re entitled to half-off your dinner at Sizzler. Not diplomatic immunity

Kathy Griffin-

I never thought I’d be quoting choreographer Abby Lee Miller from the problematic show “Dance Moms” but Kathy, “save the tears for your pillow”!

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You wanted attention. You succeeded.
You attempted to be edgy. You failed.
You wanted to use Trump’s obvious incompetence and evil as a rallying cry to generate more followers, more appearances on Entertainment Tonight and perhaps a conversation? Well that plan imploded.

I say all of this this as a progressive, left-leaning, social justice advocate and activist who like you, am very critical of this current administration.

But grow up and be woman enough to own your mistake then just leave at that.
What’s almost as appalling as the picture of Trump’s detatched head is the fact that you are doubling down on your ignorance by cowardly hiding behind the claim of being victimized by bullies and gender discrimination.
Those are both very real issues, especially in the era of Donald J Toupee.
But don’t weaken these movements by using them as a convenient cover for your error. The controversy and possible legal battle you find yourself in are the result of you thinking that as a comedian, you are entitled to a different set of rules. You fell victim to your own attention seeking and lapse in judgement not to Trump’s usual immature bullying.

Bill Maher-


I wish I could say that I was surprised by his recent comments,
but I wasn’t at all.
I used to watch HBO’s “Real Time Bill Maher” well..uhhhmmm.. religiously (I’m a proud Christian.. lots of irony there, I know). But I stopped watching a while ago for many reasons.

One of the reasons has been because of his increasing lack of religious tolerance. I don’t have a problem with the fact he doesn’t believe in God, but over the years he has become increasingly comfortable with making offensive and pejorative statements about people who pray. What has been particularly disturbing is his ignorance and
frighteningly right-wing attitude towards the Muslim community.

Watching him make this shift over the years, it doesn’t surprise me that he felt comfortable enough to make a culturally insensitive remark like his house-slave quip.

Bill Maher has also struck me as one of those guys who thinks he’s earned some kind of “black card pass” because he is a liberal comedian/host who interviews black people.
I’ve seen him adopt his interpretation of a female “blaccent” and addressing an African American guest on his show as “girl” to which she quickly corrected him for addressing her as something other than a woman.
There was also the well publicized battle between he and Wayne Brady in which Wayne had to clap back at Bill for his thinking that he had enough street cred to question Brady’s credentials as a black man.

But more to the point  of this article, Bill Maher is a comedian who like other comedians believe that cultural sensitivity is a puritan-liberal annoyance that impedes a comedians heroin rush of free, uncensored speech.


I love comedy.
But what has always annoyed me about many comedians when one of their fellow joke tellers gets in hot water is their insistence that comedians aren’t obligated to the same rules of decency and respect for other humans that the rest of us are.
Under the guise of comedy, they get to be as salacious, slanderous and hurtful as they want and it’s just the rest of us non-funny losers who have to be mindful of the respect and dignity of others.

When Jerry Seinfeld whined and complained about his disappointment in growing political correctness it fell deaf on my ears. It sounded like the argument you’d expect a child to make when they refuse mature and accept more responsibility.
Comedy for profit in America bears the darkness white men in blackface, yellow face and the subjugation of women even more than still occurs today.
As far as I’m concerned, the “good ole days” of comedy aren’t always ones to be nostalgic over.  Thankfully, it has been the constant evolution of social consciousness and moral maturity that has enabled us to view Mickey Rooney’s asian characture and Disney’s “Song of The South” with the offended reactions that they deserve.

Psssst.. You can be hilarious AND thoughtful..

My favorite standup comedians of alltime are Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle,
Louis C.K., Bill Burr and Paul Mooney.
None of them by any measure are safe, censored or afraid.
What I love most about these comedians in particular is that their other-worldly brilliance and scientific deconstruction of a topic combined with their personal experience and empathies are what allows them to be so hilarious.
But I highlight one attribute in particular; their scientific deconstruction.
These comedians are able to be compelling, edgy and even
vulgar because they use a fine tooth comb to analyze the truth to unecessary-offense ratio. They examine where we are in society, where we need to be pushed as a culture and have masterfully found ways to be cutting edge without being harmful.
The notion that comedians should be allowed to make unplanned or planned remarks without responsibility or consequence is not only socially irresponsible but it also cheapens the art form by saying it’s ok to be intellectually lazy.

Another news flash for comedians, NOT ALL OF YOUR JOKES ARE FUNNY!
You chose a subjective art form for a career. Sometimes you’ll get booed. Sometimes you’ll get praise. Sometimes you’ll get payed millions of dollars to be just funny enough for an audience of millions of New Years Eve drunkards, sometimes you get fired. It comes with the territory. I’m an artist too. We chose this life. Deal with it!
Look at Donald Trump- Only the thin skinned should expect to have the rewards of responsibility without the risks.

The fact that Kathy Griffin would simulate the brutal death of a vile man but be shocked when many of his vile followers threaten her with death shows just how naive she really is. Only the thin skinned expect all of the rewards that come with power but none of the risks. Look at Donald Trump as proof of that fact.

It’s like going bungee jumping without considering human or equipment error.
It’s like stepping in a ring with Tyson and expecting to leave with a smile on your face.

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from responsibility for your speech

Yes, we need our comedians to be brave.
But brave doesn’t mean reckless.
We need our comedians to be honest
But honest doesn’t mean tasteless.
We need our comedians to be help us challenge authority
and bizarre social constructs.
But that doesn’t mean flagrantly disrespectful.

Should Maher and Griffin be condemned for eternity ?
No. They are still in fact human beings who like all of us deserve an opportunity to atone past wrongs. But what should be the consequence for so recklessly treading upon the boundaries of decency? As it pertains to Bill Maher I don’t watch his show anymore but I’m not sure if he should lose his show. Not saying that he definitely shouldn’t, I’m just not sure either way.
What I am sure of is that if much more brilliant and capable hosts like Tavis Smiley or Bryant Humble made an impromptu joke using a Jewish slur in connection to the Holocaust, I don’t think the public, the networks or even Bill Maher himself would be as forgiving.  It wouldn’t be just a bad joke then.