Comedian Louis C.K. is in hot water again. This time the controversial stand-up artist raised the ire of the PC police over comments he made during a recent comedy club show in Long Island, NY. Raising the ire of the PC police is not difficult, of course – especially if you are one of those comics who simply cannot resist the urge to point out the more absurd aspects of human interaction and society’s responses.
The outrage expressed in several left-wing media publications concerned C.K.’s comments about some Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, who anointed themselves the leaders of a new gun-control campaign after their school was attacked by a deranged former student. That shooting, which took place in February 2018 in Parkland, FL, left 17 dead and many more wounded. A handful of students in school that day became vocal anti-gun activists, feted by the left-wing media as brave survivors speaking out against gun violence and igniting a wave of youth protest against the availability of firearms.
Comedy Is Not Always Comfortable
The comedian, whose remarks were captured on an audio recording, took issue with the notion that these students had a special status conferred upon them merely for being present at the school on that tragic day. As a result of their proximity to the shooting and their personal acquaintance of some victims, these students were now considered experts on gun violence whose views must be applauded and treated as infallible:
“They testify in front of Congress, these kids? What the f**k? What are you doing? You’re not interesting because you went to a high school where kids got shot. Why does that mean I have to listen to you? How does that make you interesting? You didn’t get shot, you pushed some fat kid in the way and now I gotta listen to you talking?”
Comedy has come a long way since the days of stand-ups reeling off a stream of puns and punchlines. At some point, certain comics crossed over into more philosophical observations on life, human foibles, and how different sections of society react in startlingly different ways to various events. They ventured into amateur psychology, political punditry, race relations, and marriage guidance. The best soaked their monologues in humor, but many more took their chosen subjects so seriously that they forgot to be funny.
These days, the vast majority of well-known comics on the stand-up circuit have transformed into poorly dressed televangelists, lecturing their audiences on racism, politics, and social justice, while saying nothing even remotely humorous.
…they are outraged when comedians dare to make observations that expose their beliefs and political narratives as hollow, irrational, or hypocritical.
Humor, of course, is subjective. Today’s leftists have become so bitter and angry that they find themselves incapable of laughing at anything except jokes or nasty remarks aimed at those they despise. By contrast, they are outraged when comedians dare to make observations that expose their beliefs and political narratives as hollow, irrational, or hypocritical.
Had Louis C.K. himself unleashed a savage – and completely politically incorrect – routine targeting President Donald Trump, a Republican politician, or any prominent conservative, the left would have dismissed it with a shrug. C.K., they would have said, is just a comedian, and his words should not be taken so seriously. His words, in this case, struck at a sacred leftist narrative, though. The handful of Parkland survivors had been idolized as living proof that guns are bad. They are heroes whose motives should never be questioned. Worse still, C.K. actually pointed out the truth: Their personal connections to that specific event do not make them the authority on gun violence.
The Myth of Expertise by Association
Witnessing, or even being involved in, a fatal car accident does not make one an expert on emergency medical care or automobile safety standards or driving instruction principles. Being present at an event does not endow one with some magical, deeper insight into the event itself or any of the circumstances that combined to bring about that event. The survivors of the Parkland shooting deserve no special place in the gun-rights debate. Should they be heard? Certainly. Should they be lauded for possessing some special knowledge of why such a tragedy occurred or how it should be prevented in the future? Why?
Some survivors of that shooting and some parents of the murdered took it upon themselves to acquire a greater understanding of why such incidents occur, what mistakes and oversights led to the shooting, and how schools can best protect against future violent rampages. That was the constructive approach, but the leftist media paid little attention to them since their conclusions were about protecting students rather than banning guns.
By contrast, the students who grabbed 15 minutes of fame in the name of gun control spent no time engaging in useful debate or serious analysis of why the killer did what he did and how he was enabled to do so. They learned nothing from their experience, but they wasted no time in using it to promote a political agenda. In truth, they richly deserved Louis C.K.’s scorn and ridicule.
That the Parkland shooting – along with so many other mass shootings – was politicized at all is the deeper problem. Once the left, through these unwitting and unthinking survivors, made the event only about gun control, the opportunity to have a rational discussion about preventing such incidents was lost.
As for Louis C.K., he used the medium of humor to remind society of its superficial nature and its blind acceptance of the ridiculous. Whether that makes him a talented comedian or a despicable human being is a matter for each individual to decide.