A case for Apology

H/T to Scott Greenfield for this…

Before I begin, I need to quote from Gilbert Gottfried.

Let me begin by saying I’m sorry. I’m truly, deeply, unequivocally sorry. I apologize to the people I offend with this essay, and I apologize to the people who aren’t sure why they’re offended but are pretty sure they should be. I don’t know how I live with myself, and I hope you’ll find it in your heart to forgive me.

– Gilbert Gottfried in a post at Playboy.com

Gottfried wrote that as the opening to his article in Playboy about how to handle internet outrage at whatever it is you’ve joked about.  He called it his “Preemptive Apology,” and goes on to explain why he didn’t mean it.  Or any other apology his handlers have ever written and released for him.  He details all the times he’s gotten fired for his jokes, including AFLAC, Belinda Carlisle, and others.  But he’s Gilbert Gottfried, and he’s known to be a vile and disgusting comic.  And very damn funny.  If you’ve never caught his stand up act, you should.  Just go in knowing there is a good chance you’ll be offended.

But the best part of his lengthy diatribe about apologizing for making a joke is this test, What Would Pamela Andersen Do?  Here’s how Gottfried explained it.

I did the David Hasselhoff Comedy Central Roast in 2010, and before the show somebody involved in running the thing told me that Anderson had agreed to take part at the last second. “So go a little easy on her,” they said, which is the worst thing you can ever say to me. Ninety percent of my speech was devoted to making jokes about Anderson’s vagina and whether it would ever be tight again. I’m not going to go into specifics, but let’s just say the punch line involved a genie from a magic lamp screaming, “There’s nothing that can be done about Pamela Anderson’s pussy!”

Afterward, when the show was over and everybody was shaking hands and pretending not to be pissed off, Anderson gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, “I hate you.” That’s all she said. She didn’t demand an apology or tell me she was going to ruin my career. All she said was “I hate you.” And that was the end of it.

The next time you hear a joke that offends your gentle sensibilities, I want you to ask yourself this simple question: What would Pamela Anderson do? Do you have the same emotional maturity as somebody with gigantic fake breasts whose main cultural contribution is running in slow motion on the beach? Can you take a joke better than, or at least as well as, Pamela Anderson?

– Gilbert Gottfried in a post at Playboy.com

Does this count as Rule 5? Image Credit The Independent.

So there you have it.  Are you as emotionally mature as Pamela Anderson?  That’s the real question.  Do you shrug it off, or do you go screaming for their head.  Because, seriously, no one has ever been killed by a joke.  Ever.

That’s not the same thing as saying a joke in bad taste need be ignored.  But the best defense against free speech is more free speech.  Just do it with the same emotional maturity as Pamela Andersen.  Talk about how it’s vile and disgusting, don’t demand an apology from someone who isn’t apologetic.  If Gilbert Gottfried offends you, don’t listen to him.  Don’t read his writings.  Explain yourself to the sponsors, take your business elsewhere, and don’t visit his inter webs.  But don’t act like a loose vagina bimbo with a lower emotional maturity level than Pamela Andersen and demand that the crude comic not be crude, that he be forced to apologize or threaten his career with lawsuits and blacklistings.  Besides being a big old baby, all you’re doing is giving the crude comic more crude things to mock you with.  You can’t put the genie back into the bottle after he’s declared there is nothing that can be done about your pussy.

I wish Gottfried sold WWPAD tee shirts.  Or those cool rubber wristbands.  I’ve a few online people I’d like to send them too.


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