Monday, November 20, 2006

Racism @ the Laugh Factory

First, allow me to preface this with a statement: Racism is deplorable. It remains a great stain on the Southern Baptist Convention's conscience that it supported slavery. Christ says "There is neither Jew or Greek..." in the church.

That said, we are also told to let "no unwholesome word proceed from our mouths."

So, what's the problem @ the Laugh Factory? As I write this, I am watching the news conference about "Kramer's racist rant" at this comedy club. It's inexcusable. However, the Laugh Factory regularly allows its comedians to utter all manner of, how shall we say, in the words of Spock in Star Trek IV, colorful metaphors, from its microphone. So, we have here persons upset (and rightly so) about what Mr. Richards stated, but they refuse to censor their microphone; they allow all manner of unseemly conversation to be uttered. Isn't this just a tad arbitrary? Why the one speech and not the other? What is their non-arbitrary epistemic warrant for their objections?

Suggestion: They should clean up their act...all of it.


  1. I'm pretty sure they'd have to shut their doors if they were to "clean up" all of their act, Gene.

  2. Gene,

    Don't you think you probably shouldn't watch it then?

  3. Here is a link to Kramer's Racist outburst.

    Kramer's Racist Rant (video)

  4. I am wondering if Richards set this up in the vein of Andy Kaufman and the fake fights he use to stage. Richards did work with Kaufman back in the 80s.

    None the less, it is extremely hypocritical of the westside crowd to feign being "outraged" when there is nightly outrageous things being spewed from the microphones of the various comedy clubs down on Sunset.

    Several years now, I had a friend invite me to see an acquaintance of his perform at the laugh factory. The person was suppose to be on stage at 9 pm, but we thought, "hey, will go early to see some other acts."

    I was shocked beyond belief as to what was passed off as "comedy." All of it was sexual in nature and one guy even had a bit on bestiality with his pets.

    So, for these people to decry Richards as a racist, when the foulest material is routinely spoken from those stages is absurd.


  5. I agree that they ought to clean up all of their act. Mr Richards was wrong. The Laugh Factory should apologize as well. They could have shut down the mike at any point in the rant and yet they didn't.

    I heard an interesting discussion last night regarding the rant. Sinbad, in giving his opinion, refers to a particular racial epithet that Mr Richards used repeatedly. He said that it is always offensive; that it cannot be meant in a way that isn't offensive.

    I hear African Americans use that same word. I also hear young people use that word. In either case when I hear it used it is clear that they do not understand or don't appreciate the connotation.

    Is it possible that Sinbad is unaware of the casual use of that word?

    I am not making excuses for Mr Richards. I would hope that the word disappears from use in my lifetime. But, if Sinbad shares this hope, he needs to be honest and recognize that that is only going to happen when EVERYONE is held responsible for cleaning up their act.

  6. My best friend, the Blackblogger (, commented on this issue to which Sinbad and Jan allude. I think Sinbad is aware of it, but it's not OK for a non-black person to use that word.
    From the BlackBlogger on 26 Feb 2005:

    Black is Black: The Grinch who Stole Blackness

    Americans seem to have some funny ideas about appropriate behavior towards people of other races, particularly blacks. Since this is such a difficult concept for some, I will attempt to make it simple, and I will refrain from using a lot of big words. First, however, I will talk about something I am very qualified to talk about: What it means to be black.

    Being black means having a black biological parent, Period. You are either born black or you are born not black. If you are not black you will never be black. If you are black, you will never be not black. You are not black because you are a mediocre saxophone artist or a philanderer. You are not black because your spouse is black. Some think marrying a black makes them a bona fide member of the black community and others think that marrying non-black makes a black less than black. These ideas are both false and should be offensive to reasonable people. You are not black because some of your “best friends” are black. You are not black because you learned to speak Ebonics. You are not black for liking a certain kind of music or even for being a multi platinum R&B artist. You are not even black because you have a black child. That’s right, I said “You cannot become black by having a black child.” Now that you are clear on whether or not you are black, let me explain what being black (or not) makes acceptable for you. Yes, there are differences based on your blackness, or lack thereof.

    If you are not black, you have no right to make hateful generalizations and slurs against black people, and if you are black, you have no right to license a non-black to do so. I do not care what you say your black friend lets you call him/her. That is your relationship with one person. This exchange is a privilege regarding one individual and not a right to take such liberties with a whole community. If you are not black, you have no business using terms that could be interpreted as racial slurs against the black community and should probably limit your laughter when you hear Chris Rock doing so. This rule applies not only to black and non blacks, but to every group. If you are not a bona fide member of a group, and one clearly identified with that group, you have no right to make insensitive remarks about members of that group.

    Those who lack good sense my think it hypocritical that I assert blacks can say things about blacks that non-black cannot. If you cannot understand why I make that assertion, think of your own family. You can rib your brother about his big ears, but a perfect stranger cannot call him “Dumbo” and expect him, and the whole family, to not be offended. You are in the family, a stranger is not. A stranger cannot call your brother the same names that you can. Countless similar examples can be cited. Membership in a group affords special privileges not given to non-members. This is just a fact of life and calling it "hypocrisy" shows a lack of understanding. It is not hypocrisy, it is just common sense. In summary: 1. No one can become a member of a racial group they are not born into; 2. Not being a member of a group, not just a racial group but any group, affects what is socially acceptable for you to say about that group. Everyone should be mindful of these two precepts. Now let’s talk about the folks who just do not get it.

    The most recent public example is Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, who lost the Democratic Party's presidential nod due to a shouting occurrence where he did not realize he was micro phoned. Dean implied that the only way his political opponents could get a group of black people into a hotel conference room was to call in the hotel staff. This was a racially insensitive comment he had no right to make. He is white. He is not black. He has no right to stereotype my racial group in a role of subservience, presumably to his own race. This comment could also be considered racist (I do not he meant it that way, but must acknowledge that it could be) because it was completely unnecessary. Dean could have just said “I don’t think my opponents could get this many blacks into a hotel,” and accomplished the same message. This way the joke is funny because we know that all the blacks in Congress are Democrats, and shame on those Republicans for not even having one. But Dean did not stop there. He made blacks the butt of the joke by digging up a 40 year old stereotype. Why did he not make republicans the butt of the joke instead of blacks? Shame on you Mr. Dean, and shame on the congressional blacks who laughed at the joke.

    ”But BB,” you ask, “Don’t they have a right to take a racist joke from him if he is their best friend, as you stated earlier?” My answer is no because he made the joke in a public and televised forum. Every black in America could hear the remark at some point. Even the Congressional Black Caucus does not have the right to tolerate racist humor on behalf of all blacks. How would a 5 year old black child feel if he heard a white person tell that joke in his home and saw his parents laughing at it?

    The second is a white radio DJ named John Sylvester, who works for a Wisconsin radio station called WTDY-AM. Sylvester calls the black secretary of state, Condoleza Rice, Aunt Jemima and the former black secretary of state, Colin Powell, Uncle Tom, and refuses to apologize. Sylvester exposes himself as a racist because while claiming to disagree with the views of these individuals, he feels the need to point out the fact that they are black in his criticism. This begs the question, “Is he mad because they are wrong, or is he mad because they are black?” This is unquestionably racist speech. Sylvester has no right to criticize any person’s political views because of that person’s color. Again, Sylvester could have just criticized Colin and Condi’s views and limited the name-calling to term “neo-fascists” or “Stalinist,” but he deliberately made it about their blackness. Why? Shame on you Mr. Sylvester. shame on anyone who listens to your show and shame on WTDY-AM for not firing you the day you said these hateful things.

    Both of these individuals clearly think that their connection to a segment of the black population gives them the right to demean the black race. They are not the only ones who feel this way. Many of you reading this may feel that you are more closely intertwined with the black community than the average member of your race. This may be true, but to me, and every other black who does not know you, you are just another non-black. You can be a member of a greater community which includes blacks, but you are not a member of the black community(and don't let anyone tell you that you are an honorary member). You are not a better black community member than a black like myself, who disagrees with a large segment of the “black community” on several issues. You can never be, because you are not a member. It is totally unacceptable for any non-member of the black community to denigrate blacks. For those of you with trouble making correlations, this applies to any racial group of which you are not a bonafide member. For a member of a racial group, poking fun or expressing negativity toward the group shows frustration or self-loathing. For a non-member to do the same shows disrespect and hate.