I’ve held my silence long enough; I really thought this whole Michael Richards being a racist on stage would blow over, as it should. But it hasn’t, and I just saw yet another of his apologies aired on tv, and I’m over it. For those of you who don’t know about this: Richards, of Kramer in Seinfeld fame, was doing his act at a comedy club in Somewhere, U. S. A. (this is sad enough, back on the road after many years of cushy sitcom living) when some random hecklers began . . . heckling him. These hecklers were black. Richards said some pretty nasty things in a pretty nasty tone of voice (pretty much at the top of his lungs–he was also on mike, so you can work out how that might sound), and some of these nasty things were racist (yep, the “N” word got bandied about, as did reference to lynchings in the “old days”) and some were not (just random non-race-based verbal abuse, you know the kind). Well, as is always (it seems) the case, someone had a video camera or whatever and next thing you know the random (but black) hecklers are suing Richards for an undisclosed amount of money.
Sit back. Let this digest.
I wonder if the statute of limitations has run out on this particular he hurt my feelings offense because if it hasn’t I’m suing Andrew Dice Clay because he wounded me as a woman during his entire fifteen minutes of fame back in the ’80’s. Oh, and maybe Dennis Leary, too, he says some pretty nasty things about women, and I’ve even heard him use the “C” word.
I’m over it. Is the “N” word hurtful and nasty? Yes. Is Richards five kinds of a pig for yelling it and other abuses at these people? Yes. But did he commit a crime? Should these people be paid because they felt bad? You don’t see women wandering around demanding hand outs for the throughout history slavery, rape, “sacrifice” slayings, abuse, down troddenness, and general repression (and that’s throughout history, people, not a couple hundred years a couple hundred years ago). Slavery was an abomination, and most of us know that and feel awful about it. The only way to move past it (or anything horrid) is to . . . move past it. Women want equal work for equal pay, in other words, women want to be paid the same amount of money as a man with the same education, skills, and experience. This is not a handout, this is not affirmative action, this is not reparations; this is equality. And isn’t that what we should all be seeking for ourselves and for each other?
Richards has apologized, groveled, and generally debased himself on every talk show and news program going. Some say he’s not sincere. Some say that he is sincere. Frankly, I don’t care if he dances around a burning cross wearing a white sheet at midnight. So the heck what? Last I heard this wasn’t illegal, either (unless the cross is on someone else’s property, and he places it there and sets it afire). Plenty of people are racist pigs and plenty of people are verbally abused by them; why should these (black) hecklers get money because Richards has it? Or because he was on a stage when it happened? It’s ridiculous. Now if he had beaten the hecklers or killed them OR advocated violence against the hecklers in the form of hate speech, trying to goad the audience into beating them up or killing them . . . well, that’s a different kettle of fish altogether. That, I believe, would and should be a crime.