I’m going to begin by stating facts that don’t need to be stated and the fact that I have to is a damning commentary on the piss-poor state of public discourse in this country.
Kirk Minihane was joking. Kirk Minihane didn’t have to say he was joking in order for anyone to know he was joking, but he did. Bart Hubbuch cut off the part where Kirk Minihane said he was joking. And Kirk Minihane has, on the whole, been generally anti-murdering a sports executive because you don’t like the way he conducts his business. I mean, Minihane’s not an absolutist on the subject. I’m sure there are cases where he’d make exceptions…
Wait! I don’t mean it! Neither Kirk nor I, nor WEEI management would ever condone the killing of anyone, no matter how clueless and incompetent he is or how much he’s tolerated heinous acts of domestic violence in the past.
With that business out of the way, this is what we’ve come to. This is what passes for media in 2015. Guys who make their living expressing themselves in public laying in the weeds for other people who talk in public to say something that they can take out of context and twist in such a way that it turns a harmless, sarcastic, throwaway, absurdist punchline into a murder-for-hire plot.
Bart Hubbuch knows Minihane was just making a point about how preposterously overblown Deflategate is. He knew it when he took the video, edited out the “joking” part and posted it. For sure he knew it when New Englander’s did what we do best: Took to the Internet like monkeys flying out of the witch’s castle, landed on his Twitter feed and tore the stuffing out of his straw man argument.
And therein lies the problem when you’re a person who writes for a living. If you’re going to lay in the bushes looking for a chance to smear somebody as advocating murder, your own record better not just be clean, it better be antiseptic. One Masshole found a tweet in which Hubbuch tried to illustrate the sorry state of the Washington Redskins. The problem is, he chose to make his (stupid, unoriginal) point using a news photo from an actual house fire in which a police officer was killed. Now I’m not about to suggest that Bart Hubbuch is pro-cops dying in raging infernos, because I don’t play that game. It’s sleazy and cheap. And worse, it’s the kind of thing that is destroying free expression and turning us all into automatons who are terrified to say anything in a creative way anymore. I just wish the Hubbuch’s of the world would give the same consideration to others.
For instance, earlier this week I wrote a goofy blog about a man in Mexico who has the world’s largest penis and claims it’s ruined his life. Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe, a guy I’ve done TV with and have had no problems with, tweeted the link suggesting it wasn’t appropriate for the website of the flagship station of the Red Sox. As if his own company, which is owned by the Red Sox, doesn’t include Boston.com which has tons of similar, PG-13 humor content. But even if they didn’t, my job is to give people something to laugh about. And penises are funny. And life is too short not to have fun. Lighten up, Francis.
Here’s an instructive, moral tale to make my point. In my early days of doing stand up, there was a Catch a Rising Star in Harvard Square. It was notorious in the comedy business because the manager made no secret of the fact he only wanted comics who pushed a progressive, liberal agenda. Literally, he did not care if you were funny. In fact, some comics would go there and crush and he’d accuse them of pandering to the crowd. So he created this cabal of comics who did unfunny jokes about the evils of sexism and unintentionally ironic bits about how everyone down south is a redneck who stereotypes others.
Around that time I was working Nick’s Comedy Stop listening to a Boston guy who was hilarious and extremely nice to newer comics and went on to huge success nationally. He was doing a bit about the terrorist groups that offered a $3 million bounty on the head of Salman Rushdie. The upshot of the joke was that he thinks that’s awful, but on the other hand, when he thinks about how much he could use $3 million bucks…
Sitting next to me was a “Catch” comic who told me how much the people who work over there hate that joke. I asked why? “Because we are comedians. We rely on freedom of speech for our livelihoods!”
So I told him, “Well that is true. But more to the point, as comics we rely on people having a sense of f***ing humor. It’s a joke. Get over yourselves.”
The point being that it’s easy to sit there, warp people’s opinions, miss what they actually mean and accuse them of evil intent every time they crack wise about something. Granted it’s lazy and kills anyone saying anything in an entertaining way, but it does allow you to pretend you’re on some moral high ground above the guy who made the joke.
I just know that if this is how it’s going to be, where the Hubbuch’s and uptight comics succeed in making it so no one will say anything in a colorful way without being accused of advocating homicide, I don’t want to live in that world.
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