For those of you who are ignorant of history (an all-too common occurrence these days), back in the 50’s there was a U.S. Senator named Joe McCarthy who really hated Communists. Or what he though Communists were. He ruined a lot of people’s lives with a lot of unsubstantiated claims and character assassination. And he used taxpayer money to fund the witch hunt. Keep in mind that the U.S. Constitution was supposed to protect free speech. Yes, even Commie Pinko free speech. Senator Joe didn’t care and his paranoid ravings were accepted then ultimately rejected by the American populace. Now the term “McCarthyism” is an insult and synonymous with unjust, unsubstantiated persecution according to political or social beliefs.
Which brings me to Tracy Morgan. He is one funny dude. Real funny. There are comedians who are otherwise pretty normal and can BE funny. There are other, slightly-askew personalities who have it in their DNA and breathe and live funny. Tracy breathes funny. The first time I saw a Brain Fellows skit on Saturday Night Live, I knew all was not well within his psyche. And it was good.
Last week in Nashville, he was doing his stand up act. In it were some jokes and comments that were not looked favorably upon by the gay community. There were apparently some sexist jokes in there as well, I’m told, but, women didn’t get up in arms over his comments. Which leads me to conclude that either gays are more politically organized or less tolerant of insults than straight women. Both may be true.
Tracy Morgan has spent every day since then being nailed to a cross. And it’s wrong. Say what you want. The jokes may have been offensive. But isn’t that the point of the First Amendment; to protect speech that is unpopular? It’s not like he was yelling, “Fire!” in the theater or using his pulpit to seriously advocate violence against any group, like the Ku Klux Klan does. He was telling jokes about things which unnerve him.
Psychologically speaking, one’s sense of humor is a coping mechanism. Something that helps you deal with issues that can beat you down in this life. That’s why some of the funniest comedians are often the most disturbed. Maybe Tracy has had issues which brought him to arrive at his unpopular opinions. And whether or not you like it, his opinions are protected by the Constitution. And who are these critics who think the Constitution doesn’t apply to them?
However, Mr. Morgan is getting thrown under the bus by many, including some of his contemporaries. Tina Fey, yes the same Tina Fey who made a career renaissance out of looking somewhat like Sarah Palin and ridiculing her and her Down’s Syndrome daughter, is crying foul. To me, that is the height of hypocrisy. I usually find Tina Fey funny. I didn’t get upset over her jokes and I don’t get upset over Tracy’s. Whether or not their opinions amuse or enrage me, they have every right to speak their minds. And I have every right to change the channel or walk out of the venue. But that’s it. For me to call for their public flogging, like what Tracy is going through now, disrespects the man apart from his jokes, disrespects the artistic license of performance, and disrespects the intent of the First Amendment.
The pressure that political groups, the public and his co-stars are assailing him with is the sort of political witch hunt that Senator Joe made famous all those years ago. If you boil it down to its core, he persecuted those whose views were different from his, period. And it’s happening today under an illusion called Political Correctness.
Being PC is perhaps the biggest obstacle we have moving forward sociologically. It’s like putting a band-aid on a sucking chest wound. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that the N-word has beed stigmatized and shamed. But do I feel that “Black” and “White” are insensitive terms that should be parlayed into “African-American” and “European-American?” In two words: Hell, no.
All that this posturing does is push the racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia underground. It puts a happy little spin on the language, but does nothing to address the racial and ethnic schisms in our society. I’d rather know how someone feels up front than have them use non-offensive terms to my face and be closet haters. Get it out in the open. discuss it. Expose it’s flaws and eliminate it. Changing the word does little, if anything to fix the problem. And the problem is that large numbers of Whites and Blacks and Hispanics generally don’t trust each other. Gays and Straights don’t understand each other. Women and Men probably never will, but that doesn’t mean that these opinions, however invalid and offensive you find them to be, shouldn’t be protected by the Constitution and be out in the open for public debate.
Once they are out there, I’m sure the level-headed people in the world can educate the prejudiced people and we can all hold hands around a campfire. More likely, those who think they are right and holier-than-thou will find out that all of us are equally distrustful, petty, and screwed up. Then acceptance and healing can truly begin. We need to cut the legs off some people’s high horses.
Tracy Morgan is probably not right about some of the things he says. But he has every right to get people to try and pay to see him spout his views. Any of you who want to run him out of town on a rail should take a closer look at yourselves and your prejudices hidden under a veneer of political correctness first. Find and expel the demons in your own heart before you tell someone else what the can or cannot say. You may find that glossy terms are keeping you from confronting your own realities about what you believe, and some of those beliefs may not be popular either. But they are yours and they should be protected and they should be debated so that we can all acknowledge, expose, and thereby expel the hidden fears in our hearts.
It’s time to abandon this Politically Idiotic mode of thinking. It is nothing but censorship with a bow on it, designed to make us feel better about being hypocrites. It’s a mere illusion of civility that does nothing to dispel the deep-seated prejudices that should be discussed, not hidden by inoffensive buzzwords.
Tracy Morgan needs to say what he feels he needs to to be funny and prosperous. Tina Fey should say whatever she wants to as well. Even if I want her to shut up for being a hypocrite. Even if I want all those going after Tracy to pipe down, they have every right to say what they want to. But they should be ashamed of trying to crucify him. The best way to expose a hypocrite is to keep them talking. After the exposure, the education can begin. That’s how we evolve.