As you may have heard, recently the long-time sports television broadcaster Al Michaels said while doing the play by play in the third quarter of a football game between the New York Giants and Denver Broncos that the Giants were coming off a worse week than Harvey Weinstein, which was an obvious reference to the disgraced movie mogul. But the response on social media was so immediate and harsh that Michaels was forced to apologize by the fourth quarter. Of course, everyone certainly agrees that a comparison between the allegations against Weinstein, which are serious, and a football game is quite different. And, of course, there are some things that can never be funny, like death camps, slavery or the recent Las Vegas massacre. But come on, we simply must not as a country lose our sense of humor. All of this sensitivity is simply driving us further apart from each other, and most often unnecessarily so. Furthermore, all psychiatrists will tell us that it is mentally helpful for human beings to laugh at themselves, and that must be true for countries as well.
So what is the better approach? Since criticisms regarding alleged racism, undue police violence, attacks on women and other grievances in many regards are understandably and appropriately closely held, the best response is for the involved government officials to hold community forums where there can be open and honest discussions with all members of the community about these issues. But causing virtually everyone in public appearances to be so careful in choosing their words that they are afraid to say anything for fear of offending their audience simply must stop. For my part, my friends know that I never tease about things that I take seriously. (In fact, to tease somebody is almost a universal sign of intimacy and friendship.) So if I make a joke about someone, or something, they know I am not serious. And most other people like, I expect, Al Michaels, are the same way. So let’s all try to keep some perspective and regain our humor. But at the same time we should encourage formal and informal community gatherings at which good people can honestly discuss and address their feelings, and thereby together find resolutions for these problems. That would be called Liberty in action.
Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President,
along with Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President
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