There Is No Louis CK Issue

Suddenly, people were talking about the Louis CK problem yesterday. Why would anyone talk about this erstwhile woke comedian, a beloved ally to the cause, until his bizarre sexual peccadilloes were revealed? Apparently, he showed up at a comedy club and did a 15 minute set. The audience gave him a standing ovation.

So what’s the problem? If people don’t want to see Louis CK, they don’t have to. No one can make them go see him. If he simply appears, they can walk out. No one can make them watch. If people don’t want to watch Louis CK, he won’t get a stage, he won’t get an audience, he won’t get applause. He got all three. Clearly, people wanted to see him. So what’s the problem?

The scolds before whom Louis CK committed no offense went nuts. How dare this toxic male return from exile without their permission? But even worse, how dare this audience sit there, watch him, applaud? Did they not realize that he was horrible? Did they not realize that he had not been punished sufficiently to sate the scolds? What about justice?

When I raised the obvious point, that people will vote with their feet and pocketbooks as to whether this jerk was ready for prime time, I got a ever-shifting word salad response from one brave twitterer. It was the best anyone could do, there being no rational argument possible.

So the New York Times sought out the one person shameless enough, incoherent enough, disingenuous enough, to make the case. And she didn’t let them down.

“Should a man pay for his misdeeds for the rest of his life?” This is always the question raised when we talk about justice in the case of harassment and rape allegations against public figures. How long should a man who has faced no legal and few financial consequences for such actions pay the price?

There is an old saying: how long should a man’s legs be? Long enough to reach the ground. Put aside Roxane Gay’s avoidance of the unpleasant stuff, like the fact that he faced no legal consequences because nobody did anything legal about his actions.

We spend so little energy thinking about justice for victims and so much energy thinking about the men who perpetrate sexual harassment and violence. We worry about what will become of them in the wake of their mistakes. We don’t worry as much about those who have suffered at their hands. It is easier, for far too many people, to empathize with predators than it is to empathize with prey.

Is Gay saying she spends no energy thinking about justice for victims? I have no clue who her “we” refers to, but it seems pretty unlikely she hangs around with anyone who spends all their energy empathizing with predators. It seems far more likely that she invents strawmen, without which she would find it really hard to explain her elevation to Chief Executioner.

Take Louis C.K. Not only did he expose himself to and masturbate in front of female comics; the actions of people in his employ reportedly worked to impede his victims’ careers. Still, he has remained in control of the narrative. He gets to break the rules, and then he gets to establish rules of his own when he must answer for his misdeeds.

In GayLand, Louis CK has a superpower to force his rules down other people’s throats. He forces his way onto a stage. He forces people to stay and watch him. He forces them to laugh and applaud. He is the embodiment of comic omnipotence, using his mad powers to force an unwilling audience to endure his narrative.

How long should a man like Louis C.K. pay for what he did? At least as long as he worked to silence the women he assaulted and at least as long as he allowed them to doubt themselves and suffer in the wake of his predation and at least as long as the comedy world protected him even though there were very loud whispers about his behavior for decades.

Or as long as people don’t wish to watch him. Gay’s problem isn’t with Louis CK. Gay’s problem is with people not doing as she and her sister scolds command, to hate him, to punish him, to force him to perform acts of contrition that they would impose. How dare people sit there and laugh at this man whom Gay commands be shunned and hated?

We need to figure out what justice looks like in the court of public opinion, not for the sake of the offenders, but for the sake of victims. It is painful to know Louis C.K. simply strolled into a comedy club and did a set as if he hadn’t admitted to masturbating in front of women, as if for sport.

To the extent there is any actual thought in her words, “we” did exactly that. The “we” in this instance was the audience, the petit jury in the court of public opinion. Much as scolds like Gay have anointed themselves the keepers of the faith, the verdict was in. And Gay can’t stand it that the “we” won’t abide her fury, won’t do as she commands them to do.

It is painful to witness the familiar narrative of transgressions coming to light, the perpetrator maybe facing opprobrium and before long, plotting a “comeback” where all is seemingly forgiven. It is painful that these men think they are so vital to the culture that the public wants them to come back. Whatever private acts of contrition these men, and a few women, might make to their victims demands a corresponding public act of contrition, one offered genuinely, rather than to save face or appease the crowd. Until then, they don’t deserve restorative justice or redemption. That is the price they must pay for the wrong they have done.

The audience at that comedy club sat in judgment of Louis CK. Gay got what she pretends to ask for, the judgment of people outside the mob that follows her lead, and they rendered their verdict: Louis CK paid the price for the wrong he did, and now they’re laughing at his jokes again. And they’re laughing at scolds like Gay, who can’t figure out why people won’t always do as she commands.

I won’t go see Louis CK. I wouldn’t before. I won’t now. But not because some scold tells me I can’t. If Louis CK never played another room, I wouldn’t lose a minute’s sleep. But if you agree with Gay, that he hasn’t suffered to her satisfaction, then don’t see him either. But you can’t command other people that they can’t see him if they want to. The court of public opinion has no judge, and Roxane Gay is no more entitled to impose sentence than anyone else, or hold you in contempt for refusing to abide her sentence.

47 thoughts on “There Is No Louis CK Issue

  1. wilbur

    Does the problem really sit with the NYT, where they deem it appropriate to seek out Roxanne Gay for her apparent newsworthy take on this?

    And Face The Opprobrium would make a great name for a alt-rock band.

    1. SHG Post author

      There are always irrational nutjobs who will hate on anything, but that doesn’t mean the NY Times needs to give them real estate to serve up their word salad. In Gay, they’ve got their Scold in Residence, invariably reliable to string together word that almost create the appearance of cogent thought no matter how many facts it ignores or logical fallacies it contains.

      If there was a remotely credible argument, that would be fine. But instead the Times gives real estate to Gay. So yes, it’s the Times’ fault.

      1. delurking

        NPR has a similarly incoherent piece about this: an interview between Ailsa Chang and Melinda Hill.
        And NPR had to go out and find a scold, since apparently they didn’t have a go-to.

        1. SHG Post author

          Did reddit send you back here? Bastards. Gay isn’t the only scold out there, fighting for shrewish hegemony. If NPR wants to compete, they’ll need to keep some scolds in their stable just in case.

      2. SC

        Huh? The NYT shouldn’t ” give them real estate,” but comedy clubs should give Louis “real estate”? Where is the logic there?
        By the way, interesting technique you and the author have of belittling and diminishing critics by referring to them as “scolds”…

        1. SHG Post author

          In fairness, me and author have very similar thoughts on the subject, but being an astute observer, you probably already figured that out.

        2. Ron

          Le’s see, completely irrational word salad of bullshit by a raving nutjob scold whose only purpose is to dictate to others what they may or may not do based on her deluded notion that she’s the Queen of Angry Righteousness gets real estate in a supposedly thoughtful newspaper v. comedian gets a stage to do comedy in a comedy club.

          I see your point.

    1. SHG Post author

      Whenever I see an old Ludwig drum set, I remember mine back in the old days. I loved that drum set. Some guys kept a centerfold on the wall. I kept a pic of Buddy Rich.

      1. Guitardave

        !?!!…a drummer?…guess i shoulda’ known…always talking about “..a blunt instrument…”
        Us guys who actually play melodic notes used to have a ton of jokes about you guys…but I’ll refrain.
        …let me sparkle? Agreed, Buddy was The BEST.

        1. SHG Post author

          My first set was gold sparkle. I never really like the color, but it was the best one I could afford. My next one was pure black. The color was perfect.

          The women always hung out with the drummer. I felt bad for the strings, so lonely and celibate.

          1. Guitardave

            Saa-lamm!… how the hell else are we to write all those songs about broken hearts and unrequited love?….if it wasn’t for us “losers in love” making songs you drummers would’ve never left the fire pit. ( or IOW, be careful not to cut off the coat tails one rides upon) So there!…(Bronx cheer)

            1. SHG Post author

              I played Timpani for realsies, and in a rock band for fun and profit. That’s how I learned as a drummer, I’d make a good lawyer (my conductor told me that).

  2. Hunting Guy

    Robert Heinlein.

    “I’ve found out why people laugh. They laugh because it hurts… because its the only thing that’ll make it stop hurting.

    But find me something that makes you laugh, a joke, anything–but something that gave you a belly laugh, not a smile. Then we’ll see if there isn’t wrongness somewhere and whether you would laugh if the wrongness wasn’t there.”

  3. DaveL

    The #MeToo movement took advantage of the fickle nature of the mob when it started naming names, and I’m sure people like Gay enjoyed the feeling of power they got from being able to cast targets out of society with a viral tweet. Well, it turns out the same lack of memory, perspective, and proportion make the mob incapable of carrying out the sentence imposed to completion. Easy come, easy go.

      1. Losingtrader

        I thought that was “the multiple personality we preferred by psychotics worldwide.”

        I forgot what number that was on the list of SHGisms

  4. David

    If you go to a club and there’s a surprise performance by Roxanne Gay of her poetry about why all white men are bad, would that be so traumatic that you were in shock and unable to make your limbs move to get you out the door?
    Back to LCK, if someone did leave, exercising the option you suggest, would they get a refund of their admission and/or have the two-drink minimum charge waived?

    I suppose that’s rhetorical, since I’m not seeking free legal advice!

        1. PseudonymousKid

          As if. Pops is so woke he knows the hippie speedball is the best breaksfast. Black coffee and a joint. Yum. Now where’d I put the keys again?

    1. SHG Post author

      There seems to be three possible answers:

      1. Ask the Scolds for their approval.
      2. Hide in fear of the mob and do nothing until the coast is clear.
      3. Let the audience vote with their hands and feet.

      He made the only rational and responsible decision, which unfortunately doesn’t mean he won’t get slammed by the shrews for it. Some of us will applaud his decision.

  5. Aaron

    Maybe the audience was too stupid to be woke. Maybe they weren’t woke enough to be smart. Either way, how dare someone enjoy something.

  6. B. McLeod

    I think the actual question is, “Should a bunch of batshit crazy asshats try to force the entire world to make someone pay for his perceived misdeeds for the rest of his life?” It’s up to the asshats, but they should be ready to live with disappointment if they try to keep pushing it.

  7. Marty

    Just a suggestion:

    Just as no one can be forced to watch/listen to Louis, likewise no one can be forced to read the NYT. A waste of time and energy in both cases.

    Fairly easy solution to both dilemmas.

    The multiple daily doses of SJW outrage has reached the habituation stage.

      1. Marty

        I just received a news alert from the Gray Lady purporting to advise whether “It is OK to be a football fan in 2018?”

        Please stand by and take no action until she can provide further insight.

      2. B. McLeod

        Don’t they still have tall buildings in NYC? You could look out the window (and probably learn more reliable news).

  8. Rigelsen

    It is easier, for far too many people, to empathize with predators than it is to empathize with prey.

    Beyond Louis CK himself, there is probably some truth here, not that Gay and her cohort would ever acknowledge why: It is far easier to empathize with someone you know than someone you don’t. There is a benefit to anonymous charges, that they can be made without risk of censure or opprobrium, whether true or not. However, the downside is clear too: The accused is a concrete individual, identifiable and identifiable with, while the accuser remains in the realm of the abstract.

    However much Gay and her partisans might prefer otherwise, once you start eating cake, at some point you’re going to run out.

    1. SHG Post author

      You fell for the scam. Is it “easier”? Says who? What does “far too many people” mean? One? Ten? 99%? Just because something appeals to your bias doesn’t make it real. It makes you the fool who fell for her scam.

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