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Monday, March 06, 2006

Race Humor

Since the success (and subsequent abdication) of Dave Chapelle, this country's seen a rise in racial humor. This post questions whether this is a good thing, or if we've gone from being "politically incorrect" to turning back the racial clock a few notches. Spike Lee raised the question in one of his movies (I think, I can never be sure what he's trying to say, because of his enormous subtlety), and I didn't think it was a big deal. I'm not so sure now. Pushing the envelope for cheap laughs isn't usually a measure of great comedy, or a good thing for society. Despite loving the Chapelle show, I thought it often stepped over the line in some of the things it portrays. I don't know. I surely don't think it's the laws responsibility to step in, and I think hate speech laws are usually bad in general. For example, see the unmerited attention paid to the Holocaust denier's foolish opinions in Austria. But I do think that society does have a responsibility to guard the borders of speech sometimes, both racially, but also morally, and etc. That's why I was fine with Muslims getting angry about the cartoons and threatening to boycott the newspapers that printed them. That's their free-speech right. Of course, riots and embassy-burning are certainly not good reactions. Anyway, it's fine to argue about where the borders are, but I think it's perhaps necessary to think about every now and then.


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