In the recent months we have been treated to a very interesting selection of “comedy” from our celebrity comedians. Louis C.K. made jokes about the Parkland shooting survivors, Chelsea Handler mockingly called Sen. Lindsey Graham a homosexual, and the Late Show tweeted a photo suggesting a possible State of the Union address from President Trump written in crayon and full of misspellings. These audio files, videos, and tweets have been met with mixed reactions— with one side of the political aisle laughing and applauding the boldness of the comedian and with the other side crying out in pure outrage.
Even more noteworthy is the digging up of old material. Kevin Hart, for example, has come under fire in recent weeks from hundreds of celebrities and politicians for a joke he made in 2011 about his dismay with his son possibly growing up as a gay man.
How does society respond, at large? It appears, based on the last six months, that there are two options most of the public discourse hastens to. If it is a joke about someone on the right in any way, shape, or form, then this is considered courageous. Such comedy is lauded by hundreds of thousands of likes for “dunking on the cons.” In a political climate where being conservative is not seen as a great thing, this is to be expected. The second option, however, has put conservatives and the right-leaning members of society in a very tight spot.
What happens when a person makes a joke at the expense of a leftist cause, focus group, or victim? The answer: bloody rage, screaming for boycotts, banning, and the bubonic plague unleashed on that person.
Recognizing that Free Speech is once again in the crosshairs of authoritarian, Orwellian totalitarianism, conservatives rush into the conversation, and in doing so make one of the greatest mistakes that are quickly toxifying the conservative movement among independents and new voters: defending the joke along with Free Speech.
As Louis C.K. made headlines with his remarks about how little he cares about what the “fat-kid” pushing Parkland victims (in his terms, “cowards”) had to say, the right jumped in defending that what he was saying was not only a right, but correct and true. Mocking shooting survivors is horrifically inappropriate, and, although it is his right under Free Speech to say that, it doesn’t mean that conservatives have to rush in and defend what he’s saying.
You don’t have to defend the content of someone’s speech in order to defend Free Speech.
Consider making the case that although we also disagree with statements made, Free Speech is essential to a free society. The ability to say horrific things gives the public a chance to condemn it properly without sending him to prison— that societal pressure without the force of the law promotes a freer and happier society. We don’t have to sink to defending the fool in order to defend someone’s right to choose to be foolish.
If we don’t readily realize this when entering these topics of discussion, we convince the accusers that we are defending the joke for its content— and not its right to be said.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.