Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Michael Richards Controversy

I'm a bit pressed for time this weekend, but I do want to ask a simple question about the Michael Richards racial slur controversy. It's hard to turn on the television without hearing about it in one form or another.

It goes without saying that what Mr. Richards did was wrong. He deserves the rebukes he's been getting. However, has anyone even mentioned that what the young black men did was wrong as well? Not only was it rude to enter the club and make a lot of noise entering a performance, but they began heckling Mr. Richards during his routine. Was that not a bit rude also? Most comics, of course, are able to turn events like that into lemonade or ignore them, but Mr. Richards lost his cool, to his detriment. But it wouldn't have happened in the first place if these rowdy guys had behaved like gentlemen and kept their mouths shut.

It didn't take long for them to find high profile jurismatrix Gloria Allred to help them make the talk show circuit and eventually the courtroom, did it? I guess the smell of greenbacks quickly overrode their "hurt, pain and suffering."

What would have been appropriate would have been for Michael Richards to apologize personally to these young men, and later to the crowd at the club. The young men should have apologized to the comedian for being disruptive. Then all would have been forgiven and forgotten. But the fact that a nationwide incident had to be created has left me more than a bit cynical.

While I am at it, let me address the attitudes that people like "Reverends" Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton get upset about. Why is it that they get so steamed about so-called racism, and then turn a blind eye to the behaviors that might well provoke some of those attitudes? Rap, hip-hop and the like dominate the scene these days. Watch a video or walk down a street corner in certain neighborhoods and what do you see? Swagger, thug-like behavior and lewdness are in your face. Criminal behavior is often celebrated and glorified. I have to roll up my car windows and turn my own radio up full blast at stoplights to drown out the obscenities and graphic sexual innuendo blasting from the high-powered systems in the next lane. Did they ever stop to think that the attitudes by which they are rightfully offended are provoked by such behavior?

Look what happens when respected African-Americans such as Bill Cosby, Clarence Thomas, Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell decry such behavior and urge more gentleman-like or lady-like conduct. They get called "Uncle Toms" and a host of other gratuitous insults. It's maddening.

By all means, let's condemn racism and give it the shame it deserves. But the purported victims of said racism also need to look in the mirror at their behavior. And clean it up. There's enough blame to go around for everyone.

1 comment:

Randy said...

Joel,
I couldn't agree more with what you wrote. You were right on target. I was saddened that the Richards incident rose to the zenith it did, but like you mentioned, it could have been handled a lot better than it did. Good post!