At last night's Academy Awards ceremony, actor Will Smith took it upon himself to assault actor Chris Rock on live television over a joke in poor taste. (I'm not gonna get into the particulars because they're really not all that relevant -- so far as I'm concerned -- to what the real central issue is here -- again, so far as I'm concerned -- so haters be damned.) Yes, it was assault; and yes I think the joke was in poor taste. That's what I think everyone needs to understand in order to begin a conversation.
In any event, I've read a lot of 'commentary' on the Information Superhighway this morning about how some folks believed Chris had it coming, that Will was in the right, and whatnot. While there are some who have come to the comedian's defense, there are still others who are kinda/sorta saying that -- ahem -- this is the consequence of having a free society, that if you truly want to have free speech then you must be ready, willing, and able to suffer the consequences of being assaulted publicly by others who disagree with you.
So the short skinny here is: what version of civics were any of you taught?
There is absolutely no tenet of our social structure that could, should, or would condone violence against another person; and I've grown very sick of folks suggesting that X had it coming because -- in a historical context -- these are the very same people who not all that long ago were saying idiotic things like, "Well, the lady had it coming because she dressed for sex, and the guy just took it." Trust me when I suggest that I could go on with a wealth of other phrases that have come and gone from the public discourse, but let me leave it at this: they've all been banished to the trash heap of history precisely BECAUSE they were flawed thinking from tiny minds.
Nothing condones Will Smith's casual violence.
But those of you who want to keep insisting that this is just the way things are in a society that allows free speech, let me encourage you to go out, find an event that has as much armed security as does the Academy Awards, and then insert yourself into the proceedings in such a way as to assault a host, a presenter, of any other person directly involved in the festivities. Go on. Go out and do it. After you've done it, then let me know if you haven't been arrested and charged for your public conduct.
Now, I'm not suggesting that Chris Rock is the better person for agreeing to not charge Will Smith with assault. Each of us has to decide what we'd do in similar circumstances. Again -- as I've said -- I think Rock's joke was in poor taste; but if you watch closely Will was laughing at it, too, all the way until he saw his wife's reaction to being involved with it (that's when Will decided he was going to defend her honor). But I'll give Will a pass on that: it was a public setting, and he really had to decide which way to go.
Again, trust me when I saw I could go on with this subject for hours -- that's just the way my mind is wired when it comes to cultural issues -- but I won't. The point here is that there's clearly a double standard for justice in this world when the Harvey Weinsteins and Bill Cosbys and Alec Baldwins of the world can sit in judgment of folks like you and I -- the ones who actually suffer real-world consequences for things they get passes on.
But those of you trying to suggest that Will's behavior is somehow appropriate because we embrace free speech?
Had Will simply shouted and given Rock a warning? Yes. That would be the case.
When we're trying to teach kids and even adults that violence is never the answer, then we need to stop condoning it when it's right in front of our face.
As always, thanks for reading ... and live long and prosper.