November 20, 2006

"That's what happens when you interrupt the white man!"

Kramer -- Michael Richards -- freaks out in the least funny comedian melt-down I've ever seen.

Coincidentally, just last night I happened to catch the scene from the movie "Lenny" where Lenny Bruce (played by Dustin Hoffman) spouts racist epithets directly at people in his audience before mellowing into an explanation about how if we'd only use these words all the time they'd lose their force. Richards, however, never mellows... and Bruce's theory was a new theory when he tested it out, not a long-argued, tried, and failed one.

IN THE COMMENTS: Someone posts the text of the Lenny Bruce routine. I and others continue to distinguish what Richards did from what Bruce did. Some people get sidetracked into a discussion of how some people seem to be permitted to use racial epithets while others don't. To them I say, watch the video. This isn't a question of using the word. It is the entire sad, angry, sorry context for which there is no decent excuse.

UPDATE: Richards is on Letterman tonight, explaining himself. Here's a report on what he said:
"I'm a performer. I push the envelope. I work in a very uncontrolled manner on stage. I do a lot of free association — it's spontaneous, I go into character. I don't know. In view of the situation and the act going the way it was going, I don't know. The rage did go all over the place it went to everybody in the room.

"I'm not a racist, that's what's so insane about this."
ANOTHER UPDATE: I've watched the show now, so let me make a few observations.

1. Poor Jerry! Seinfeld was the scheduled guest, there to promote a new DVD collection of the old sitcom, trying to make the best of the situation, with Richards having degraded the value of the product.

2. Richards seemed calm -- and his deadpan delivery caused some clueless audience members to laugh -- but he also seemed deeply broken up and in need of help. At one point, he questioned whether to be talking on the show was the right place for him to be, and he seemed really stunned. Maybe he was on tranquilizers.

3. The stupidest part of Richards' performance was when he shifted from admitting to his own rage to talking about needing to get to the bottom of rage generally, including the rage that takes nations to war. He also tried to connect the offense that the black people in his audience took toward him to the effect Katrina had on black people.

131 comments:

reader_iam said...

Wow. Just: Wow.

vh: pfghh

cAPSLOCK said...

He blew it. Major mistake. Destroyed his carrerr and hurt many many other folks in the process. Sad. Grievous.

But let me make a prediction. Beofre these comments are wrapped up we will see people critisize him with a fervor ONLY reserved for this particular sin. We will see people make excuses for him and talk about who can and cannot say the 'N' word. Comparisons will be made to this and that famous black person and what they say. Some people will defend him. Others will make bigoted comments about other groups or races while feeling as justified in their hatred as he is since bigotry is one of the unforgiveable sins.

Ready??? GO!

George said...

I only watched about half of his garbage, but I thought his key line was "What's the matter? You can't handle this?"

Borat is Jackass is Courtney Love is Madonna is this guy.

His career's in the trash can. It was already destroyed and over because he's been typecast. This wins him huge attention. Now he can be in People and on Larry King and in a few months he'll be doing voices for some new Disney animated movie or in a horror flick or something.

paul a'barge said...

Not to be justifying or anything, but has anyone noticed how all the black comedians (and comediennes) almost always do a segment belittling white people? You know, where the comedians enunciate words and talk about how ineffectual white people are.

So, my question is this ... are they racist? And, if so, how come their careers are not in the dumps because of it?

Or, are we on some kind of comedy affirmative action, double standard, quota thing?

Mark said...

He already has his tens of millions of dollars from Seinfeld, so he can pretty much afford to say whatever he really feels like saying. Which was this case, I guess.

Mark said...

Or, are we on some kind of comedy affirmative action, double standard, quota thing?

Absolutely.

Ann Althouse said...

Paul: That question might make sense if he had some kind of comedy routine that was making a point of some kind. This is a pure-melt down, devoid even of an attempt at humor. He's simply freaking out, Mel Gibson style.

Abraham said...

How can the heckler in the video say that Michael Richards has never had a movie? Hasn't he ever seen UHF?!?

Anonymous said...

I chose the same statement as a headline when I posted this this morning. A pretty obvious choice, considering it's really the only part that highlights the insanity while not having any objectionable words. Watching this made me feel incredibly awkward although I thought it was very interesting the way he mentioned "it shocks you, this shocks you." Did he think he was being subversive?

the pooka said...

I guess everyone (or at least, perhaps, every white man) is entitled to one Falling Down-esque moment these days. Culture of redemption, and all that.

Anonymous said...

Also, why does motherf*cker get bleeped in that clip, whereas n*gger is heard loud and clear and shown in the subtitles?

Maxine Weiss said...

I don't like profanity.

Whenever I watch 'Lenny', I always watch it with the sound turned down.

Much easier that way.

Peace, Maxine

AJ Lynch said...

He will certainly claim it was planned all along and is some sort of inside joke. Anyone know if Richards is (was) good at stand-up?

Paddy O. said...

He forgot his own show. Seinfeld had a great episode dealing with hecklers.

What Richards needs now is to find someone who can pose as a black friend for the cameras. Maybe an exterminator or someone like that.

Joe Baby said...

How to lose friends and destroy your career. In three minutes.

Everyone knows a white man can't say the n-word.

Dave said...

"Everyone knows a white man can't say the n-word."

When I was in high school, I was sitting in a classroom with a bunch of other kids. Two of the kids were black and were going on about some other dude, who they kept referring to as "nigger." All of the sudden one of the study hall monitors came into the room, overheard this intellectual repartee and dressed down these two kids: "why can you two get away with calling this guy a nigger but all the white kids can't?"

I never heard them say the word again. But it's a question that bears mentioning: why has it become hip for blacks to call each other nigger? I've never understood that. I suppose it's like gays calling themselves fags. But I don't understand that either.

dave in boca said...

Yeah, Richards had his "Trent Lott" moment. Lott lost his job. My guess is that George has it right: Richards will be on Oprah's couch soon enough and telling Larry King all sorts of mitigating circumstantial existential things.

Mel mouths off at 3AM to two or three cops and spends months getting pinged from drive-by large-caliber heavyweights like Joan Rivers. No couch for Mel; and he may still be big box office boffo.

pablo H said...

Just a "botched" joke.

I'm sure John Kerry and his supporters would understand.

Can't we just move on?

Mortimer Brezny said...

But it's a question that bears mentioning: why has it become hip for blacks to call each other nigger?

Not only is this phenomenon less common than many assume, it is quite disliked by most black people.

Auto Report World Editors said...

Lenny Bruce's two routines, Nigger Nigger Nigger, and Any Niggers Here?, are classic pieces of comedy. While they were based on what you call a failed theory, they were also very much a part of Bruce's skewering of liberal/leftist orthodoxies, in a class with his The Movement routine.

I'm pretty sure that Richards was riffing off of Bruce.

David Boyd said...

I wonder how 'Flushed Away' feels about being the sponsor of this clip.

Al Maviva said...

Well, that does it for me. Anybody tries to nominate him for Senate Minority Whip, and I'm going to have to register some displeasure.

Molon_Labe_Lamp said...

Uh...The jerk store called, there all out of Michael Richardses.

Molon_Labe_Lamp said...

there = they're

Seven Machos said...

I'm afraid to watch.

Revenant said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DookOfURL said...

The "nigger" thing is fascinating.

I had my son late in life. He's 17 now and I was in my 40s when he was born. As such, the word "nigger" was viewed as a total and complete racist term, not to be used by anyone.

But my, how times have changed. My son goes to a small rural school and he regularly calls his (white) pals "nigga". If there is anything more pathetic that a bunch of white non-urban boys calling each other "nigga", I don't know what it is. When I first heard him call his "homies" this, I told him that the word was racist, we didn't use the word, etc.

He informed me in no uncertain terms what the rules of the road had changed in the 21st Century, to-wit:

1. White people can call other white people "nigga".

2. Black people can call other black people "nigga".

3. Black people can call white people "nigga".

4. But white people can never, ever call a black person "nigga".

He was very savvy in noting that this policy was "racist", but said that's just the way it is and give it a rest.

On the one hand, an old former 60s style liberal like me thinks the word should never be uttered.

On the other hand, the fact that blacks use it with some frequency, both to other blacks and to whites, makes me think that the more the word is used the more it loses it's power.

Either way, it's a cultural shock for me!

Seven Machos said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Meade said...

Verbal jujitsu. Seven gets it without even watching the clip. Impressive.

But it's all in the context. Richards was expressing his anger with the wrong word in the wrong context. It was, as some in the audience who got up to leave politely said, "uncalled for."

He should be thanking his lucky stars he didn't get his self-identified white ass kicked to hell and back. He was clearly asking for it.

Some
recommended
reading for Michael Richards.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I'm puzzled as to why almost every black comedian, rapper, and actor seems to use the word on a regular basis, then.

This was exactly my point. Comedians, rappers, and actors are not representatives of ordinary people. Actors are acting in roles (usually written by white screenwriters). Comedians are entertaining audiences (usually mixed). Rappers are selling product (to an audience dominated by young white suburban males). The fact that you hear it on the radio and see it on the TV screen does not mean that everyday black people like it or do it. Those that do are a very small minority of the black population.

You'd think they would avoid doing something that most of their audiences dislikes.

Most of their audience is white.

Heck, Chris Rock had a whole routine about the difference between "black people" and "niggers".

Actually, he's proving my point, too. Black people are the kind of people who don't call other black people "niggers".

The mostly-black audience laughed its ass off.

Actually, most of the audience visible to the camera was black. As Chris Rock noted during that routine, most of the whites in that audience happened to be in the balcony, out of view of the camera. And you missed the entire point of Chris Rock's routine if you think he was "calling other black people niggers" in the same way that one would do so for purposes unrelated to irony.

Meade said...

What I found most disturbing were the people in the audience who, finding his assault to be humorous, were chuckling.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I think Ann said it best: this was a melt-down. Not an ironic routine.

Joe Baby said...

What?

I don't think Black CEO's or college professors use the word, but among young black men (let'say from 15-30) calling each other "nigga" is like saying hello.

And one of the reason that white folks recognize it so quickly is we know the penalties for using it...and therefore it's stunning to hear it in communication and that's why our head whips around upon hearing the word.

Abraham said...

There is real psychological power in taking a derogatory word used against you, to objetify you, to stereotype you, and making it your own.

If a group adopts that tactic, though, doesn't it then forfeit the right to object to use of term? It seems logically inconsistent to say, for example, "Goddamn right, we are n******! But don't you dare use that term, it's too offensive to utter!"

Seven Machos said...

Maybe. Alternatively, doesn't that represent 100 percent, fee simple ownership in the most legitimate sense?

Smilin' Jack said...

Blacks don't own the word. As DookOfURL said above, rural white kids use it for each other. And white urban club kids do, too. It's replacing "dude." Language evolves.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I don't think Black CEO's or college professors use the word, but among young black men (let'say from 15-30) calling each other "nigga" is like saying hello.

Fair enough, but the point is that young black males are not "most black people". Young black males are a minority within the black population. And not all young black males (age 15-30) use it, either.

Auto Report World Editors said...

Are there any niggers here tonight? Could you turn on the house lights, please, and could the waiters and waitresses just stop serving, just for a second? And turn off this spot. Now what did he say? "Are there any niggers here tonight?" I know there's one nigger, because I see him back there working. Let's see, there's two niggers. And between those two niggers sits a kike. And there's another kike— that's two kikes and three niggers. And there's a spic. Right? Hmm? There's another spic. Ooh, there's a wop; there's a polack; and, oh, a couple of greaseballs. And there's three lace-curtain Irish micks. And there's one, hip, thick, hunky, funky, boogie. Boogie boogie. Mm-hmm. I got three kikes here, do I hear five kikes? I got five kikes, do I hear six spics, I got six spics, do I hear seven niggers? I got seven niggers. Sold American. I pass with seven niggers, six spics, five micks, four kikes, three guineas, and one wop. Well, I was just trying to make a point, and that is that it's the suppression of the word that gives it the power, the violence, the viciousness. Dig: if President Kennedy would just go on television, and say, "I would like to introduce you to all the niggers in my cabinet," and if he'd just say "nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger" to every nigger he saw, "boogie boogie boogie boogie boogie," "nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger" 'til nigger didn't mean anything anymore, then you could never make some six-year-old black kid cry because somebody called him a nigger at school.

- Lenny Bruce

My OS won't play that video, but I'm pretty sure Richards was riffing on the Lenny routine.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Except Lenny Bruce's routine leaves out the "That's what you get for interrupting the white man" part.

Meade said...

"...I'm pretty sure Richards was riffing on the Lenny routine."

Did you watch the clip? Richards was angry. Lenny Bruce was not expressing anger.

Truly angry comedians are not humorous.

Ann Althouse said...

Much of the discussion here is really off point. Did you all watch the video? This is not a general question of who can use that word -- which is an easy question: don't use it. It is a man totally freaking out, using it over and over, not in any kind of a friendly way or as part of any sort of comedy. It is just flat out ugly and there is no basis whatsoever for finding a way out for him. Let's make that clear.

Ronnie: I just saw exactly that part of the Lenny Bruce movie last night, so it was really fresh in my mind and I was trying to see if Richards was attempting some version of that. I could not see it at all. He didn't go anywhere with it. It had no benevolent ending. And it was reacting to hecklers... just a plain hostile hit back at the hecklers with a decision to use race to make it as hurtful as possible.

Christopher Althouse said...

I watched the video twice, and the first time I felt that he's just purely evil. The second time, I tried to look at it from his perspective and see if he could possibly have been doing the meltdown in character, with the intention of revealing the irony at some point. He is shouted down by the audience during the meltdown, so if he meant to reveal that the whole thing was an act, it's possible that he backed down at the last minute and walked off in shame, realizing his act had failed miserably and that there would be no way to win back the audience. Even still, I cannot imagine what the point of it all could have been.

Slac said...

Kyle Doss, an African-American, told TMZ he and some friends were in the cheap seats and he was playfully heckling Richards when suddenly, the comedian lost it.

I'd like to know what the heckler said. Does anyone know?

Auto Report World Editors said...

Prof. Althouse,

There are reports from people who were there that the hecklers made the first racial comments, calling him "cracker" and "white boy". It has also been reported that the hecklers said that Richards' mother should have been killed by the Nazis.

Is heckling about gassing Jews less evil than joking about lynching?

Since the video was shot by the hecklers, and only includes Richards' remarks and not the heckling that prompted it, it appears to me that they were trying to set MR up.

Something about this stinks, and it isn't Richards' rant.

Though I've never used the word nigger in anger, and though I have my differences with my mother, if you "joke" about gassing her, you just might hear something about your ethnic heritage.

Seven Machos said...

Is heckling about gassing Jews less evil than joking about lynching?

This is a banal question. How many ethnic supremacists can dance on the head of a pin?

Joe Baby said...

Cosmo just lost it.

Best he get on with apologizing, then going on Oprah and flaggelating himself. Although I suspect she'll be doing some of that "judging" that we're admonished never to do.

Slac said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ignacio said...

The fact that the video was shot by the hecklers, and Ronnie Shreiber's allusion to inflammatory remarks by the hecklers left off the tape, leaves me feeling I just don't have enough data here to understand exactly what was going on.

Christopher Althouse may be on the right track insofar as Richards possibly tried to incorporate the heckling (which we don't hear or see) and his response into some sort of comedy riff which however was failing or he gave up on.

It's hard for me to care. I'm not offended however.

Auto Report World Editors said...

Seven Machos said...

Is heckling about gassing Jews less evil than joking about lynching?

This is a banal question. How many ethnic supremacists can dance on the head of a pin?


I don't know, why don't you ask the folks in your community that endorse "Brown Pride" and MeCHA?

Pogo said...

Kramer, Whoopie Goldberg, Bill Maher, Al Franken, Rosie O'Donnell, Janeane Garafalo, Jimmy Fallon, Howie Mandel, Maragaret Cho, Tom Green, Carrot Top, Gilbert Gottfried, Chevy Chase, Pauly Shore.

We are truly in the Era of Unfunny Comedians.
Angry, Ranting Unfunny Comedians.

Maybe Kristian von Hornsleth is not a Danish artist after all, but an American comedian.
See? Get it?

Freeman Hunt said...

The fact that the video was shot by the hecklers, and Ronnie Shreiber's allusion to inflammatory remarks by the hecklers left off the tape, leaves me feeling I just don't have enough data here to understand exactly what was going on.

Same here. The rant is crazy, but I can't tell if it was supposed to be a clumsy tit-for-tat thing ("You think insulting me with epithets is funny? I'll show you epithets. How do you like it now? Sucks to be on the other end, doesn't it?") or if it was just a run-of-the-mill insane Hollywood meltdown thing.

Seven Machos said...

Okay. I finally watched it. That was really weird. It reminded me a lot of when Crispin Glover went on David Letterman and nearly kicked Letterman in the head.

No one seems to have raised this possibility, so I will: he was out of his gourd on cocaine and/or speed. That's my guess.

AJ Lynch said...

Cosmo is getting more buzz in last 24 hours than he has since Seinfeld ended. He does not strike me as a whacko though his Kramer character revealed him to be a one-trick actor; I guess it's possible he was really pushed a little too far and just snapped.

Slac said...

Ann, thanks for teaching me a lesson. I was genuinely confused why my comment was deleted, but I realize now that Chris Rock's "observational humor" really is harmful.

Repeating the part of my comment that was not so bad, in my opinion, there's no such thing as "friendly heckling." Hecklers are like Internet trolls and they should be condemned.

Danny said...

Horrible and sad. But the movie, in a way, made me happy.

Because the famous "Throw the jew down the well" bit by Borat had numerous critics making flippant generalizations about Americans: that we're closet racists or that we're willing to excuse racism when in large groups or that we're so eager to be friendly that we don't mind crossing the line of offensive humor.

This video dispells all those notions, Americans are damn good at knowing when to laugh and when to object. I'm willing to bet that most of those who sang along with "throw the Jew down the well" we're well aware that Borat was making a joke. Never underestimate the power of an HBO editor to create a false atmosphere. The crowd unanimously objects Richards just as it becomes apparent that he truly believes what he says. People are laughing up until the point that he starts picking out black members of the audience and calling them 'nigger'.

Ann Althouse said...

Slac: I deleted your comment because of what it directed at a named individual, not for the idea expressed. And frankly, I don't like to see the N-word written at all on this blog, but obviously, I haven't deleted it. Still, I think a lot of people are being obtuse and using this post to air an old debate that doesn't relate to the post. It's a tired and trite observation that some black people use that word toward each other. It's not a subject I raised and no one has anything new to say on that old subject. So why is this post being used for that? It seems really out of it to me.

And I just watched the clip again and can say that the hecklers were not the people who made the video. When Richards talks to the hecklers initially they are way over to the side, not where the camera is.

I think it is notable, in trying to guess what the hecklers were saying that as they leave they just keep saying "that was uncalled for" -- which is strikingly polite and thus doesn't support Freeman Hunt's "tit-for-tat" theory.

I do think there is some chance Richards meant to make it a Lenny Bruce type routine, but he lacked the skill to do it.

Cedarford said...

Comedy, unfortunately, is in a media owned and controlled for the most part by a powerful liberal minority, so it is bounded by the same PC rules and conventions as Hollywood:

There are two classes of people. The Victim Class and the Oppressor Class.

Victim Classes are permitted to make fun of themselves and the Oppressor Classes. i.e. Jews may make fun of Jews and Gentiles. Gentiles are permitted to make fun of only Gentiles unless their mocking of others is "uplifting" and serves secular progressivism.

paul a'barge said...
Not to be justifying or anything, but has anyone noticed how all the black comedians (and comediennes) almost always do a segment belittling white people? You know, where the comedians enunciate words and talk about how ineffectual white people are.

So, my question is this ... are they racist? And, if so, how come their careers are not in the dumps because of it?


On the comedy channel, I have seen "strong black woman" lay into white hecklers calling them every racist name in the book and the audience and media reaction (what there is or more importantly IS NOT PUT IN MEDIA) is strong approval for the "strong black woman in emotional meltdown making a racist diatribe against whiteys who got under her skin." Yeah, you tell the Ofays, Sista!! with the usual syncophantic whites nodding and groveling in their seats like Democratic Presidential candidates being lectured by Al Sharpton using code on how stupid white-run America is.

a'barge should know the Oppressor-Victim code of speech endorsed by the ACLU by now, surely.

Besides comedic content, the rules also cover meltdowns. Inside and outside comedy clubs. No black notable will ever be called to embark on a notional apology tour for making racist or bigoted remarks, no black worker fired for racist remarks - but as a black man is also simultaneously a penis-wielding Oppressor Male - they may be fired for remarks construed as sexual harassment. Only black female Queen Bees are truly without constraint on their language.

There is also the Victim Class to Victim Class rule. Where blacks may be excused for insulting a fellow victim class - except females as noted above - based on "centuries of repression". Thus "Hymietown" is not acceptable, but truly enlightened Jews must accept Jesse's Victimhood and schmootch his brown butt after that anyways.

It does leave American society silent on many issues that cannot be even delicately broached in the mainstream...

1. As Chris Rock said, blacks ARE divided into 2 groups - black people and niggers - and black people are deep down the most resentful that society is obligated to treat black people and niggers the same. Rock - "You know what I am saying, people! We believe in civil rights, we believe in equality....we also want the niggers that are wrecking our neighborhoods and cities to have their worthless asses shot!"

2. Double standards of speech are privately condemned and hated - but cannot be openly debated because PC stifles it.

3. The dysfunctions or disproportionate power of Victim Class people have been given an immunity amulet from general criticism by "the powers that be". To transgress, as Gibson and now Richards have done, even in the face of considerable provocation
- creates the usual kabuki ritual of Victim Class spokesmen claiming mortal offense and hurt that can only be assuaged by severe punishment to "help make America whole again and more tolerant".

Seven Machos said...

I don't know, Ann Althouse. What is there really to say here? Kramer went crazy and melted down or did a seriously ill-fated comedy routine. The audience responded more or less politely.

Doesn't that about cover all the bases? My question is how can we push this toward a discussion of gay marriage? It's going to take some serious finessing, but I am confident that it can be done. Fag already has been uttered, so that's a start.

Slac said...

I understand. It's more offensive to call someone a troll in my eyes anyway. :)

I think it is notable, in trying to guess what the hecklers were saying that as they leave they just keep saying "that was uncalled for" -- which is strikingly polite and thus doesn't support Freeman Hunt's "tit-for-tat" theory.

The subtitle has them saying, "that was uncalled for you f***ing cracker-ass motherf***er."

Seven Machos said...

I don't know what you'd call someone saying those things to you except "f***ing cracker-ass motherf***er." That was called for.

I'm a little surprised he didn't get a cap in his ass, or at least a foot in his jaw.

Danny said...

Yeah, I kept waiting for someone to rush the stage and pummel him. This happened in LA right? Considering what he was saying you'd think he was attempting suicide and looking for an accomplice in the audience.

Slac said...

You two are really surprised there wasn't violence?

Do black people look polite when they don't resort to violence? If that's not racist...

Seven Machos said...

Slac -- No. However, sometimes people named Slac assume that when people talk about violence there must be black people instigating it.

I don't think that only black people are heckling. Or can you just tell by the way they talk?

BeckyJ said...

Richards did another show at the Laugh Factory the following night and there were no "incidents" as the media says. Maybe he thought that since Carlos Mencia does this kind of stand-up routine he could do it too.....

Jon Swift said...

I am of the opinion, old-fashioned as it is, that comedians should be funny.

Slac said...

Slac -- No. However, sometimes people named Slac assume that when people talk about violence there must be black people instigating it.

Then you are surprised that people regardless of race didn't resort to violence?

If you are not being racist by setting a low expectation of behavior for blacks, and are instead setting a low expectation for all people, I can't say that's any better.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Actually, being a misanthropist is better than being a racist, for the same reason that viewpoint-discrimination is more pernicious than prior restraints. It's a matter of equal application. You hear that? It's a matter of equality.

Equality. Why gay marriage should be allowed.

Ahem.

wv: nggaz

:)

LoafingOaf said...

Odd that the video begins right when Richards starts shouting back. I guess we'll never know what they were heckling. In the tape, the hecklers were saying racist and mean things, so they probably were being assholes to begin with.

Sometimes at baseball games I'm shocked at some of the very personal, ugly, and even racial things hecklers will yell at ballplayers. If the player responds in any way, he's crucified in the media. You're just supposed to take it, even when people behave like they have a license to say or do anything to you.

Stand-ups are in a nightclub where the alcohol is flowing, and some of them are expected to be "edgy" and shocking. Also, some people go to those comedy clubs just to eff with the comedians. It seemed to me that he was trying to respond to heckling in an "edgy" manner, wasn't doing very well, but kept going because he felt he had to go with it.

Michael Richards strikes me as a performer who gets himself into a very intense "zone" before performing. On one of the Seinfeld DVDs they talk about how annoyed he'd get if someone broke out of character and had a blooper.

I'm not excusing it. He definitely lost his head and it wasn't funny, just ugly. But if it's an isolated, one-time incident, people should cut him slack.

It's a bit different from Mel Gibson, who has a long record of anti-semitism. Michael Richards just lost it for a couple minutes in the middle of a performance where he was "in character." He doesn't seem like a bad guy. I hope he's not a racist. This tape, given the circumstances, doesn't prove he's a racist. But in this era, when a celeb has an ugly moment, the whole world sees it the next day on the Internet.

LoafingOaf said...

paul a'barge said...
Not to be justifying or anything, but has anyone noticed how all the black comedians (and comediennes) almost always do a segment belittling white people? You know, where the comedians enunciate words and talk about how ineffectual white people are.

So, my question is this ... are they racist? And, if so, how come their careers are not in the dumps because of it?

Or, are we on some kind of comedy affirmative action, double standard, quota thing?


There are white stand-ups who get away with jokes about other racial groups. Sarah Silverman is a current example. She's hilarious, IMO. Because she knows how to do it in a way that it's funny and you know she's not really a racist.

As far as rappers, I've never understood how Chuck D is considered such a righteous dude when his raps are littered with sincere praises for Farakhan. There's no doubt in my mind he's a hater (hates women, too). But they gave him a show on Air America!

LoafingOaf said...

Sarah Silverman is a current example. She's hilarious, IMO. Because she knows how to do it in a way that it's funny and you know she's not really a racist.

Plus she jokes about her own ethnicity more than she jokes about other groups.

MadisonMan said...

Does knowledge of the words that sound racist, and using them in a time of extreme stress, make one a racist? That's something I've often pondered. Certainly using the words, absent any other mitigating context, sounds bad. But who knows what was really going down -- although I tend to agree on the altered mind state suggested by Mr. Machos.

dookofurl: The rejoinder for your son's use of the N word is "Not around me, thank you"

Mark said...

My feeling/understanding based on what was in the news story and what I saw in the video is that the black men were probably heckling Richards for a while, getting under his skin. And Richards probably does have some racist feelings towards blacks (like most whites do, like most people of all races do about other races), and he got it into his head for a moment that maybe he could push the envelope and get overtly racist and express some hostility towards them and maybe it would go over as a joke. It's the kind of feeling/intuition people get when they're doing an off-the-cugg performance, and normally his superego or whatever would have censored those racist comments and he would have sensed that they wouldn't be funny, but these guys were really getting under his skin and he was getting mad and his judgment got skewed and his id said "go ahead, say it" and his superego got drowned out, and he said it.

And then he was probably internally horrified at what he'd said, had a sick feeling, but figured maybe he could push it further and somehow recover, but he couldn't. And then he figured, this can't be retrieved, and walked off the stage.

So: a combination of rude provocation by the black audience members, actual racist feelings by Richards, and a moment of bad judgment caused by anger.

Mark said...

Oh, and now he'll have to try to be really convincing that he's not a racist and it was just some kind of edgy comedy gone wrong, and maybe if he's a good enough actor he will sound convincing enough to be believable. And if not, his voice and words and body language will tell us all that he's just saying what he knows he has to say to do an emergency repair on his reputation.

Shanna said...

Does knowledge of the words that sound racist, and using them in a time of extreme stress, make one a racist? That's something I've often pondered. Certainly using the words, absent any other mitigating context, sounds bad.
Yeah, I do think sometimes you can get to a place where you're really angry and you're saying things you don't actually think but that you hope will hurt. I'm not excusing Richards in any way, but it is an interesting question. There are somethings that are just nuts though. Like, "that's what happens when you interrupt the white man" is weird, like Mel Gibson's rant is weird. Too weird to be just anger, too weird not to be real.

Also, hecklers are jerks.

Meade said...

"I'm not a racist, that's what's so insane about this."

I often hear self-identifying white people make remarks similar to this. But they do protest too much, meoftenthinks.

For a good example of an artist who courageously confronts and transcends the racism, sexism, and misanthropy he, like most people, was infected with during his formative years, see the work of Robert Crumb.

Crumb has put it out there, with superb artistry, for anyone and everyone to see and he makes no bones about it: it is ugly, hurtful, and it is a depressing part of the human condition.

But where Crumb finds (and Lenny Bruce attempted to find) the nearly inscrutable humor in that grim reality, Michael Richards, in this instance, simply failed and let slip, à la Mel Gibson, his own unfunny dark side.

Mortimer Brezny said...

And Richards probably does have some racist feelings towards blacks (like most whites do, like most people of all races do about other races),

I don't know where this like most people do stuff comes from, but I would tend to call it "projection".

Mortimer Brezny said...

My feeling/understanding based on what was in the news story and what I saw in the video is that the black men were probably heckling Richards for a while, getting under his skin.

Yes, but I don't think they were heckling him as black men. They were just heckling. It wasn't "black heckling". It was just heckling. Richards took it to another place. Heckling is par for the course in comedy clubs.

Humorles, angry, hateful racist rants directed at specific audience members are not.

Meade said...

I don't know where this like most people do stuff comes from, but I would tend to call it "projection".

It would be projection if it included "except for me." As it is, it's more like full disclosure.

Maxine Weiss said...

Can we have an update, please?

Has he checked into rehab, when's the cathartic apology, the tearful Oprah confession, followed by book deal ??

Is he booked on Larry King, yet?

I'm sensing a pattern here.

Internet Ronin said...

As reader_iam said: "Wow." How very sad. There is undoubtedly a reason (or reasons) but there is no excuse, I think.

Freeman Hunt said...

Anyone else watch his appearance on Letterman just now?

LoafingOaf said...

Hmm. He was kinda weird on Letterman. Did I hear him right that he was comparing his outburst to the Iraq war? He said something about rage, like the rage we have towards other countries.

Whatever, dude!

And now he says "afro-american."

Letterman's audience seemed to think it was all a joke. They must not have checked Drudge before the taping!

downtownlad said...

His career is over.

His only hope now is to run for Senate Minority Leader.

Mark said...

Watching Richards on Letterman was excrutiating. It reminded me in a way of a sort of communist-style public self-criticism session. "Comrades, I had an incorrect thought, and I wish to understand it and get my mind in the right place, and I ask for your forgiveness."

In the long run, I think this sort of thing is going to lead to bad things. The fact is that people DO have racist feelings, negative feelings, about some things about other races. But only white people are expected to grovel like this when those feelings slip out. For now, social pressure is strong enough that anyone with a social presence like Richards has to try to put on just the right appearance of genuine contrition and horror at himself. But people can't keep that kind of thing up indefinitely I think. It's a lie. Truth can't be suppressed indefinitely.

How refreshing it would have been if he could have just said, "actually, I am a bit of a racist. But that's no excuse for lashing out at the audience like that. I was angry with the hecklers, who had been interrupting me and talking throughout my act. But that has become an expected part of the stand-up comedy experience, and I should have handled it with more grace." That would have been the healthy response. I think people could actually respect that kind of honesty. (As someone who is quite open about my racist feelings, I've been told more than once "well at least you admit it.") Instead we have this ugly, demeaning groveling where we all know he is only saying what he is expected to say. It's horrible to watch a man humiliated like that. And I don't think people will put up with that indefinitely. I think there's already an undercurrent of resentment among white people that wasn't there in this kind of strength in the past.

Christopher Althouse said...

The only plausible explanation for him not being a racist is the one that the hecklers were making anti-semitic remarks at him and invoking the Holocaust, and that he, in character, tried to make a point along the lines of, "How dare you make bigoted remarks towards another group of people when your group has been the victim of a great deal of prejudice?" If that's what happened, then, even if it would seem tasteless and offensive, doing a racist "act" could make the point effectively. But then why didn't he explain that he was making that point when the audience lashed out at him? If the hecklers really made those kinds of remarks, he could have pretty easily explained the point he was trying to make. Perhaps he was on drugs or felt he had been shouted down and couldn't win the audience back. But then why not explain exactly what happened during his Letterman appearance? His apology seems to be more like the Mel Gibson apology: I got carried away in a rage and said things I don't really believe. That's not going to convince anyone he's not a racist (even if he says the words "I'm not a racist").

Maxine Weiss said...

A flimsy explanation is worse than even the most superficial apology.

Why does he owe anyone anything?, much less extensive explanations that people will still find a way to question.

That sense of entitlement. ---That this guy owes the public anything.

It seems like Whites are the most upset about this. Blacks couldn't care less--why should I?

Being called a racist is a badge of honor these days.

I'd rather be a racist than a liar.

Peace, Maxine

Cedarford said...

Part of the problem is reflected in the opinions of several posters that it is totally unacceptable under the new values of multi-culti to have ANY negative feelings about any race, gender, ethnicity, religion, preference.

To have them is never challenged on a basis refuting the basis of the negative views - just maintaining that any evidence of validity of differences or negatives belonging to one subgroup is besides the point - that it is all "bigotry" and bigotry must be condemned or supressed. Be it truthful or untruthful, it is still bigotry.

College students are particularly self-righteous about this, as are annointed "spokespeople" for victim groups that hype the negligable harm of such statements demand punishment or Communist-style public apology tours to self-correct the deviant thinker from approved Party line expression.

It is harmful in that it stifles society from confronting problems. White suburbanites willful isolationism, bad Asian drivers, high black crime and illegitimacy rates , low 2nd Gen Hispanic educational attainment, disproportionate Jewish power in America.

It stifles honest discussions about the threat of radical Islam and all the wishful thinking caveats. About how the religion is one of Peace, the vast majority of Muslims are moderates, they are a Victim Class so their anger must be from Christian white Oppressor Classes or Zionist Oppressor Classes or Hindi Oppressor Classes. How nothing in the Holy Book the Qu'ran can possibly be bad or dangerous to non-Muslims, how nothing the Prophet did may be criticized.
5 years after 9/11, another version of the same multiculti religion that seeks "Kramer's" head - keeps many academics, college kids, lawyers, media, and government cowed aout engaging in open, honest discussions of Islam.

Seven Machos said...

Cedarford -- You are a racist and I am sick of your goofy racist rants.

altoids1306 said...

I agree with Cedarford that it is far more dangerous for a white male to make racist comments than a minority. Minorities can routinely denigrate "white trash" with impunity.

That said, Kramer (forgot his real name), made clearly racist comments, and he should be made to suffer appriopriately.

Kudos to him for apologizing, but skip the "that's what makes it so insane" bullshit. What ever happened to taking responsibility?

Stand-up comedy should just die already. It never was that funny then, and it's not funny now.

Maxine Weiss said...

Oh, with Whites, the litmus test is always ...words.

It's almost always exercising free Speech which leads to the 'Racist' label.

So be it.

Having a Black Prom, Black Pride, quotas...those things aren't racist.

But speech, that You don't like is.

Frankly, I'm proud to be a Racist, and don't care who knows about it!

Love Maxine

Seven Machos said...

Having a Black Prom and talking about Black Pride are clearly racist. So is calling Asian drivers bad and saying that Jews control the world.

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mark said...

Here's a big "amen!" to Maxine.

What's the big deal about being a racist anyway? Yeah, people from different races TEND (not always! but often enough for it to be generally true!) to have certain characteristic differences from other races, and some of those differences rub people of other races the wrong way. It's a matter of taste and preference. Personally, I find most of what comprises modern black culture to be repugnant. That's my right, to have my tastes and preferences. Most black people I've known embody or live part or all of that culture. Therefore obviously I am going to have racist feelings towards most black people. Why is that so evil? Why can't I have those preferences with regard to race-related culture (or even towards race-related appearance) without that being considered proof that I am some kind of degenerate and need to get my mind right and apologize? Who should I apologize to for having an opinion?

I remember asking a black guy once why he was pretty much exclusively interested in dating white women. "It's just my preference," he answered. If it's ok for him to have an aesthetic, explicity racial preference FOR white women, why can't I just as uncontroversially have an aesthetic, explicitly racial preference AGAINST black people? Must one only LIKE or be INDIFFERENT to other races, and never DISLIKE them? Why?

dklittl said...

Oh, I'm just loving this pity party. You know white people have it so tough in this country. I mean you can't use nigger when you might feel like it. You might have to apologize when you say something racist, instead of being able to say what you damn well feel like Mark. It is a cruel existence to not be able to stop a black person on the street and say "Your world frightens and confuses me". I say that we have a day where white people can shout from the rooftops about Hip-Hop music, illegals, Hollywood and all of the other ills that the oppresive minorities of America have wrought on this once perfect country.

Anonymous said...

I am white and my black husband just heard of michael richards racist episode. As of this very moment he is laying in bed holding the pillow over his face and is telling me that he just wants to be left alone. he looks as if he is going to cry.

We can never watch seinfeld again, its sad... I loved to hear my husband laugh really like that. A real laugh from good comedy.

Ed said...

You know, Lenny Bruce had a point. Maybe it's because of my age (I'm 38) but it never occurred to me that the word "boogie" had any racial connotation at all, much less that it was an epithet. I had to look it up on dictionary.com to find out that it was once a slang word for "black man".

Up until I read that passage from Lenny, I always thought that boogie meant "to go really fast" (as in, let's boogie) or else a type of music characterized by heavy bass and lots of horns, a la Kool and the Gang (Jungle Boogie).

The word boogie has been consistently used for so many other meanings during my lifetime that the racial slur aspect of the word is basically archaic. And that was pretty much Lenny Bruce's point.

Who knows? In 40 more years people might look back on Michael Richards' meltdown and not even realize that he was uttering racist words - only that he sure wasn't really funny unless he was letting some kid drink from a fire hose.

Shanna said...

I had to look it up on dictionary.com to find out that it was once a slang word for "black man".

No kidding. You learn something new every day I guess.

I'm sorry about your husband Deniese. Although personally I find Seinfeld unwatchable, I understand other people still like it. The guy seems to have gone off the deep end.

Sissy Willis said...

The Katrina connection: Bush's fault!

Mortimer Brezny said...

I remember asking a black guy once why he was pretty much exclusively interested in dating white women. "It's just my preference," he answered. If it's ok for him to have an aesthetic, explicity racial preference FOR white women, why can't I just as uncontroversially have an aesthetic, explicitly racial preference AGAINST black people?

Presumably, he doesn't hate the white women he dates.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Why can't I have those preferences with regard to race-related culture (or even towards race-related appearance) without that being considered proof that I am some kind of degenerate and need to get my mind right and apologize? Who should I apologize to for having an opinion?

Well, if you're going to insist on using phrases like "get yo' mind right" while decrying "modern black culture" you should apologize to yo'self for being a goddamned hypocrite.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Having a Black Prom and talking about Black Pride are clearly racist.

That's insane. "Black proms" usually are formed because the black people aren't invited to the "real" prom, i.e., the one thrown by whites. And anyone of any race can attend the "black" prom.

"Black pride," too, usually is reactionary. Its a response to being degraded by majority culture. While it may be silly when incessantly reiterated, it isn't racist to say "Black is beautiful" if your perception is that the media is rife with images that suggest "Black is ugly".

The black is beautiful campaign is not on par with Nazi Aryanism. That's just laughable.

Ali Bubba said...

This episode has sparked a lot of heated discussion in comment fields on several blogs.

1. I think Michael Richards will recover from this. It's going to take some time. Right now, he's clearly in shock. He has friends in show business, including black friends, and they will help him.

2. The ugly rant on the video might be, to some extent, more comprehensible, if we could also see the exchange between Richards and the hecklers that preceded it. They must have been pretty abusive.

3. I don't think Richards is a racist. I think that he was angry at the hecklers, and was trying to one-up them by doing an "over the top" thing. I think he miscalculated and crossed a line he shouldn't have crossed, and it spun out of control.

4. It is probably wrong to try to use this bizarre incident as a touchstone to discuss American race relations in a general way, except in so far as it shows the importance of courtesy and caution. Just a comedian having a bad night, a few hecklers giving him a hard time, suddenly somebody's button got pushed and next thing you know, all pretense of civility evaporates.

This video reminds us that race relations are still remarkably fragile, that behind the veneer is a lot of ugliness we don't want to have to discuss. Best, then, that we focus our efforts on relating to people as individuals, one-to-one, in an effort to build mutual respect.

VICTOR said...

How was it the "stupidest" part (No. 3)? Far from it, it seemed quite genuine and heartfelt. He could well be right. Either way, it's not so obvious.

Odd that you would consider it "stupid" without offering further explanation. But I guess it reveals something about your biases.

Cedarford said...

Seven Machos said...
Cedarford -- You are a racist and I am sick of your goofy racist rants.


Best keep a barf bag handy for your delicate stomach, chollo. Outside work, I frankly don't care what "offends" people about whatever opinion I have. That you are "sickened" by people that don't agree with you? Good. Upchuck all day for all it matters to me. More and more, self-righteous little pricks like you thinking they can get an authoritarian ego boost playing "PC Police" are getting laughed off

For that matter, let me start you on a new dry heave.

I think Saudi Arabia and it's Wahabbi religion are backwards, primitive, evil, and a danger to other cultures. I am bigoted about KSA and it's Mullah's beliefs.

Like Mark, in his fine 2:26AM post, anyone with have a brain cannot fail but to evaluate religions and cultures and ethnicities along a wide spectrum that spans from real admiration to utter repulsion. The MultiCulti Commandment that thou shalt never judge any different group in having any difference with your group except positive - and feeling or expressing anything but adulation marks you as a racist/bigot/____ist was always a pile of fatuous dreck.

*********************
Denise said...
I am white and my black husband just heard of michael richards racist episode. As of this very moment he is laying in bed holding the pillow over his face and is telling me that he just wants to be left alone. he looks as if he is going to cry.


So he has been reduced to a catatonic quivering pile of Victimized protoplasm upon hearing a comic once on a TV show he watched just got into a slurfest with some black hecklers?

Does he do that often?

Poor oppressed victimized, sensitive soul.

Plan on suing for anguish?

***********************
dklittl - The problem is that PC stifles debate and prevents a dialogue and hopefully a commitment to solutions if particular pathologies and dysfunctions arising in some groups more than others must be studiously ignored. Especially when it is all for show - to mask feelings and judgements everyone knows are common, but suppressed.

Nor has deliberate social policy worked to erase "prejudice" by attempting external imposition of stigma - to correct "prejudice" - if that "prejudice" has valid, rational underpinnings.

The partisan moderate said...

There is absolutely no excuse for what Michael Richards did. One of the really sad parts about this episode (among many) is that some people in the audience were laughing.

I am not sure why anyone would think that was funny and I am little disturbed by the fact that people didn't start booing Richards or at least walk out on his diatribe.

Meade said...

Can we agree on a few things?

> WHITE is not a race.
> BLACK is not a race.

> racism:
Any action, practice, or belief that reflects the racial worldview-the ideology that humans are divided into separate and exclusive biological entities called “races,” that there is a causal link between inherited physical traits and traits of personality, intellect, morality, and other cultural behavioral features, and that some “races” are innately superior to others. Racism was at the heart of North American slavery and the overseas colonization and empire-building activities of some western Europeans, especially in the 18th century. The idea of race was invented to magnify the differences between people of European origin in the U.S. and those of African descent whose ancestors had been brought against their will to function as slaves in the American South. By viewing Africans and their descendants as lesser human beings, the proponents of slavery attempted to justify and maintain this system of exploitation while at the same time portraying the U.S. as a bastion and champion of human freedom, with human rights, democratic institutions, unlimited opportunities, and equality. The contradiction between slavery and the ideology of human equality, accompanying a philosophy of human freedom and dignity, seemed to demand the dehumanization of those enslaved. By the 19th century racism had matured and the idea spread around the world. Racism differs from ethnocentrism in that it is linked to physical and therefore immutable differences among people. Ethnic identity is acquired, and ethnic features are learned forms of behaviour. Race, on the other hand, is a form of identity that is perceived as innate and unalterable. In the last half of the 20th century several conflicts around the world were interpreted in racial terms even though their origins were in the ethnic hostilities that have long characterized many human societies (e.g., Arabs and Jews, English and Irish). Racism reflects an acceptance of the deepest forms and degrees of divisiveness and carries the implication that differences among groups are so great that they cannot be transcended. See also ethnic group; sociocultural evolution.
--Britannica.com.


>A racist is someone who actively condones and espouses the concept of there existing separate discernible "races" of humans where some are superior to others.

>Maxine Weiss said...
"[...]Frankly, I'm proud to be a Racist, and don't care who knows about it!"

>Michael Richards said...
a number of similar and equally outrageous uncalled for things.

>Maxine Weiss and Michael Richards may or may not in fact be racists.

It may simply be that each is a humorless liar.

But both clearly are fools.

Shanna said...

That's insane. "Black proms" usually are formed because the black people aren't invited to the "real" prom, i.e., the one thrown by whites. And anyone of any race can attend the "black" prom.
Really?

Who can get away with not inviting black people to their high school prom? Not in this day and time.

Shanna said...

One of the really sad parts about this episode (among many) is that some people in the audience were laughing.

Let's not rule out nervous laughter.

Full disclosure, I didn't actually see the video. But it sounds pretty bad to me.

Mark said...

Mortimer wrote: Presumably, he doesn't hate the white women he dates.

Interesting that you need to caricature my statement that I dislike aspects of black culture as hate. That is dishonest. There is a difference between 'dislike' and 'hate'. But you recognize that you can't very well say a person has no right to dislike something, so you exaggerate it, twist it, into 'hate' so that you can feel justified in condemning it.

I have a feeling that "dislike" will evolve into "hate", though, if self-appointed p.c. police go around demonizing people for their dislikes.

If a black man can prefer white women (which is really such an insult to his own people), then I can prefer white people and white culture too. And I ought to be as free to act on that preference without ostracism as you presumably feel that black man ought to be free to date white women without ostracism.

Ann Althouse said...

Victor: The reason it was so stupid is that it detracted from his apology. Instead of owning up to his own wrong, he shifted into saying everyone has a problem with rage and then tried to turn it into some general political statement. He needed to humble himself at this point, not go arrogant and intellectual or whatever.

Mark said...

meade: You take it as gospel that race is a fiction and that there are no meaningful physical differences between races.

Obviously there are races and obviously there are differences between races. African pygmies are different from Icelanders, and Australian Aborgines are different from Koreans.

Your argument, presumably, would be that these differences are only superficial matters of skin tone, hair texture, and nose and lip shape.

But no non-black has been in the final of the Olympic 100 meter dash in 24 years. That is because blacks have different red versus white muscle tissue proportions than non-blacks, which gives them an advantage in sprinting.

Medical professionals are well-aware that different races respond quite differently to a variety of medicines. It can be dangerous to give the wrong kind of medicine to the wrong race.

Presumably you would argue that these are still superficial differences, that all that matters is the personality, the character. Let's leave IQ out of it for the moment. Presumably you agree that our personality, our character, is a function of stuff going on in our brains, our physical brains. Most liberals are not particularly religious and many or most do not believe in life after death, so they do not believe in a non-physical, ethereal soul as the source of character. That leaves only the physical brain.

With that in mind, why in the world would racial differences that are very real in terms of physical appearance, muscle composition, and physiology somehow magically stop at the boundaries of the brain? You assert as a matter of settled fact that there are no differences in personality caused by racial differences, but how do you know that? Blacks are better sprinters; if personality is a function of brain composition, then might not races have different personalities or IQs if their brains are subtly different just like their muscles and physiology are subtly different?

Reasonable people are beginning to come forward and agree that there are real differences between races and that they matter. People like Vincent Sarich, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at Berkeley, and Frank Miele, Senior Editor of Skeptic magazine, who together wrote "Race: The Reality of Human Difference" in 2004. The book makes the case on a scientific basis that there are real and meaningful differences between the races.

Denying that racial differences exist is the fool's game, meade. It doesn't work in the long term to try to deny what is factually true. It is better to come up with policies that deal with the reality of the situation.

Meade said...

"It is better to come up with policies that deal with the reality of the situation."

It's been done, Mark.

Beyond slavery, apartheid, lynching, genocide, etc., what would you suggest we come up with?

Real and meaningful policies, I mean.

Cedarford said...

Liberals insistance on nuture as causative in man's affairs, and denying the genetic component, may be looked upon in future generations as another bout of Lysenkoism.

Willfull blindness of the obvious serves no one.

Meade tries.....

Can we agree on a few things?

> WHITE is not a race.
> BLACK is not a race.


Emmm, actually it goes Caucasian is a race, Mongoloid is a race, and Negroid is a race.

The more we study the races, we find the deeper the distinctions are. From child development on, scientists consistantly observe the same phenomenon of distinct racial differences that span nations and very different parenting methods.

Pogo said...

Whether there are or are not real differences between humans that are entirely dependent on 'race' (however defined ...e.g. is Tiger Woods cablinasian?) matters very little to our status as citizens, and should matter even less to the basic demand for respect between persons.

Time spent pigeonholing folks by racial superiorities and demerits misses the point. We cannot achieve the status quo ante circa 5000 BC, when racial lines were clearly drawn. More recent attempts cost millions of lives, but achieved nothing.

We must live alongside each other, and idiots like Kramer aka Michael Richards make our lives ever so much more difficult. I think a few days in stocks at Times Square would help. Dammit; what a putz.

chickenlittle said...

BFD on all this. Remarks from a TV actor made in a comedy club provoke this much emotion?

Wake me up when the heat starts melting down some real people.

Get a life folks!

Pogo said...

chickelittle,
Civilization is a thin veneer. So thin, events like this are disruptive.

It matters, even though it may bore you.

Meade said...

Cedarford said..."The more we study the races, we find the deeper the distinctions are."

Perhaps you are studying the wrong thing then, because the more we map out the human genome, the more we find that it's the biological similarities of the human race that go deep and wide while the "racial" differences become shallow and narrow.

Cedarford said...

Meade - Perhaps you are studying the wrong thing then, because the more we map out the human genome, the more we find that it's the biological similarities of the human race that go deep and wide while the "racial" differences become shallow and narrow.

That sounds impressive to a layman or typical liberal ignorant of the math and science of those "hard classes" they avoided in college...but anyone in the field can tell you with a 99% match, the Chimapanzee, Human genomes grow broad and deep. The genomes of a lapsa apso and a wild wolf are even closer, almost identical...but for a "few minor mutations".

But to anyone with common sense, obviously there is enormous practical difference between wolves and various domestic dog species in appearance, abilities, temperment, and intellect.

Mack said...

Ann,

Well, he's not a politician, you know. His comments on Katrina and the war remind me a lot of non-legal/political people I know trying to make profound political statements; it generally just doesn't quite work out.

I'd guess he was feeling a great deal of pressure to make something bigger out of it than simply that he went nuts on stage and yelled the nastiest thing he could think of. He could have said something about latent racism or something like that, I suppose, but it doesn't seem he thinks that's what it was.

Seven Machos said...

Well, Mortimer, if anyone of any race can attend the Black Prom, then it's not racist. Nor is it much of a black prom.

Point taken, largely. I cannot imagine that there are really proms that are white only. I am willing to be proven wrong here, but all high schools take some form of federal money, so strict scrutiny would apply. You'd think it would have been litigated successfully by now.

Seven Machos said...

Cedarford -- You say a lot of interesting things. But always peppered in -- and sometimes gratuitously -- are generalizations about "bad Asian drivers" and "too many powerful Jewish people."

Are there a lot of bad Asian drivers? Yes. But there are a lot of good ones. Are there a lot of rich and powerful Jewish people? Yes. But a lot of rich and powerful people are not Jewish and a lot of Jewish people are't rich and powerful. It seems like a logical and ethical error to me to generalize the way you do.

Is Islam a problem? Yes. But if we castigate all Muslims because some parts of Islam are antithetical to Western values and some Muslims are radical and want to kill us, it's bad politics and likely to lead to serious political problems.

I close by saying again that a lot of what you say is interesting and insightful. I simply wish you wouldn't make these stereotypical and racist generalizations.

Nevermore said...

Does this make him a racist? I don't think so. I think some people need to be less offended when they go to the comedy club.

Track Back: http://nevermoreblog.blogspot.com/

Seven Machos said...

Mark -- Race is a bullshit term. There are no races. There are people who have similar characteristics because they have been having babies with each other for a long period of time.

And, yes, let's leave IQ out of it. Because IQ is 100 percent bullshit, too. I once took an "IQ test" that consisted entirely of sentence completions. I have been teaching sentence completions for standardized tests for many years. Lo and behold, the test classified me as a genius. The rudimentary games being tested on "IQ tests" can be gamed very quickly. If a person can improve her or his score on an "IO test" by practicing, did they become smarter? No. Are some people smarter than others? Yes, obviously. Can it be quantified into a number. No. Can it be quantified into a number by race? No.

I am aghast that people still think in these 19th Century terms today.

Pogo said...

Asians are supposed to be bad drivers?
Never heard that.
Now Iowans, them are some baaad drivers.

Or is that a statist thing to say?

LoafingOaf said...

Funny how Maxine ends her messages about how proud she is to be a racist with "peace" and "love".....

Those pointing out that race doesn't really exist are correct.

Slac said...

That was the most uncomfortable piece of television I've ever seen. Even 9/11 wasn't that bad. There you're thinking, "damn terrorists really screwed us this time!" But here it's like, uhhhhhh...

Slac said...

Actually, being a misanthropist is better than being a racist,

It's "misanthrope."

You're wrong, by the way. Indiscriminate hate will always be worse than discriminate hate.

Seven Machos said...

Actually, Slac, you are not anywhere remotely near as clever as you think you are.

Dictionary.com Unabridged
mis‧an‧thrope  /ˈmɪsənˌθroʊp, ˈmɪz-/
a hater of humankind.
Also, mis‧an‧thro‧pist /mɪsˈænθrəpɪst

n. One who hates or mistrusts humankind.

n : someone who dislikes people in general [syn: misanthropist]


Note also the secondary definition.

You stand grossly corrected.

Slac said...

Well, if people want to use superfluous syllables, I guess that's okay. :P

I'm not wrong about indiscriminate hatred of humankind. Since you'd rather note the weaker secondary meaning of the word, "misanthrope," I'll take that as an agreement.

Seven Machos said...

Slac: I showed you that the word the poster above used is, in fact, a word, and that it has at least three subtly different definitions. And you now are fishing for something positive to take from this. There isn't anything positive.

You were absurdly wrong. You got served. Take a time out. Stop making yourself look sillier.

dmand123 said...

I guess what I would like to know is does anybody really believe that these men deserve money for this? Are they entitled to some sort of compensation? If they are, I just want to know how to sue Kamau Kambon for threatening to exterminate the white people off of the planet as this has caused me serious emotional damage!! Apparently every white person who was offended by this is then entitled to some form of compensation.