Katie Rich, a writer for “Saturday Night Live,” has been suspended from her position at that show following a widely criticized post she made Friday on her personal Twitter account in which she mocked Barron Trump, the 10-year-old son of President Donald J. Trump.
She was suspended immediately after her tweet, and her suspension is indefinite, according to someone familiar with the plans at “S.N.L.,” who was not authorized by NBC to comment on personnel matters.
That tweet on Friday, during Mr. Trump’s inauguration ceremony, drew widespread condemnation, and Ms. Rich subsequently deleted the post (which said “Barron will be this country’s first homeschool shooter”) and deactivated her Twitter account.
She later reactivated it and apologized for offending people, because that’s what we do now.
Whether or not you think that joke is funny, you need to ask yourself some questions. Do we want to create and live in a world where anyone, be they a comedian, a reporter or an average citizen, faces the prospect of losing their job because they had the nerve to do their job? Should we be in such a rush to stamp out jokes and opinions that might be the slightest bit controversial? More importantly, who gets to decide what’s controversial?
I can’t think of a single circumstance off the top of my head in which a comedian should ever be made to apologize for being a comedian. You almost never saw folks like Bill Hicks or George Carlin apologize, and they made legendary, beloved careers out of saying things onstage and in interviews a million times worse than Katie Rich’s tweet.
Like it or not, we need controversial and unpopular opinions. Without them, we might never know where we stand in life. Carlin, for instance, gave an external voice to my internal struggles with my feelings about religion. Listening to him made a lot of things clear to me at the same time as he cracked me up, and I like to think I’m a better person for it. I’m grateful that I lived in a time and place where he was allowed to say those things regardless of whether or not everyone was happy about it.
Did Katie Rich’s tweet do anything life changing like that? Probably not, but she’s hardly the first person to be controversial arguably just for the sake of being controversial, and that’s ok too. Humour, like so many things, is subjective. Some folks like their jokes a little mean-spirited sometimes, but there’s a big difference between enjoying that sort of thing and being that sort of thing. To me it’s much more mean-spirited to form a pitchfork wielding mob and happily take away someone’s livelihood and voice than it is to toss off a single tweet that’s kinda not very nice. It’s also unwise, because the next time something like this happens, the voice that gets silenced could be your own.
We’d all be much better off if we could just remember that at the same time as we have the right to complain about some fucking prick, that that fucking prick has just as much right to keep right on being a fucking prick if he feels like it, the fucking prick. As for the people at SNL, they’d be well served to remember what business they’re in. You’re never going to please everyone all the time with comedy, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to have something for everyone. And there’s more than an outside chance that a lot of the complainers don’t even watch your damn show in the first place, so letting one misfire if you even want to call it that by one of your writers scare you off of maybe pushing a boundary or two now and then because some geeks on social media might get outraged for a few minutes just makes you look bad to anyone who understands how society is supposed to function.