South African comedian Trevor Noah recently found himself on the receiving end of a social justice warrior witch hunt thanks to “offensive” comments he made. The 31-year-old comic, recently tapped to replace Jon Stewart as host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, was the target of left-wing hysterics due to several “anti-Semitic” and “misogynistic” Tweets he’d made over the years:
Almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. He didn't look b4 crossing but I still would hav felt so bad in my german car!
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) September 18, 2009
Behind every successful Rap Billionaire is a double as rich Jewish man. #BeatsByDreidel
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) May 12, 2014
South Africans know how to recycle like israel knows how to be peaceful.
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) June 2, 2010
"Oh yeah the weekend. People are gonna get drunk & think that I'm sexy!" – fat chicks everywhere.
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) October 14, 2011
The irony of accusing Noah—a soi-disant progressive who is part Jewish and whose mother was imprisoned for breaking South Africa’s apartheid-era anti-miscegenation laws because of her relationship with his white father—of being anti-Semitic was lost on the screeching baboons calling for his head:
Jews, "untermenschen", "fat chicks" & "girls with big asses" – subjects of @Trevornoah's low-brow humour. Jon Stewart's replacement, folks!
— Ariana Gic (@GicAriana) March 31, 2015
— Ari David (@AriDavidUSA) March 31, 2015
To Comedy Central’s credit, they’ve refused to bow to these Cotton Mathers of Twitter and will retain Noah as Stewart’s successor. Noah has also fired back at his critics, declaring that “to reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn’t land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian.” Unfortunately, the fact that the fracas even happened to begin with is indicative of a worrying trend in American society.
What If They Held An Open Mic And No One Laughed?
Lost in the pearl-clutching comments over Noah’s “offensiveness” is the fact that the highlighted jokes weren’t funny, a fact which he himself acknowledged. As my friend, comedian Yale Cohn, put it:
— Yale Cohn (@YaleCohn) March 31, 2015
Comedy by its very nature is going to offend some people, because the entire nature of stand-up is about using humor to examine taboo subjects. To paraphrase the late Patrice O’Neal, in comedy, somebody has to get hurt. The legends of stand-up—George Carlin, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor et al.—were beloved precisely because they took uncomfortable topics and made them into side-splitting comedy acts. In a Time article defending Noah, comedian Jim Norton made this point in scathing fashion:
The image people have of comedians staring defiantly over a stationary line of good taste is simply inaccurate. We don’t approach this line, put our toes over it arrogantly and then scamper back to safety. The line doesn’t exist. The correct image for people to have is one of a circle, with a comedian standing in the middle of it, surrounded by a myriad of races, religions, social beliefs, sacred cows and political ideologies. And in these groups are endless numbers of sub groups and personal boundaries. There is simply no way to consistently do the type of comedy that addresses these things without upsetting somebody. No matter which direction you turn to aim the joke, someone is getting hit. And while the person who has been hit jumps up and down and exaggerates their injuries, everyone else in the circle is telling them to shut up and learn to take a joke. Until they themselves get hit.
The SJW ninnies raking Noah over the coals for comments he made years ago are the spiritual successors of the censors who hounded beloved comedy icons like Lenny Bruce and tried to get them blacklisted and ruined. It’s impossible to espouse a brand of comedy that is completely inoffensive and acceptable to everyone watching, because everyone has different tastes and things that upset them. If SJWs get their way, all comedy will be as bland and neutered as Clean Comedians.
The SJW Bigotry Time Machine
The other, more disturbing facet of the SJW witch hunt against Noah is the fact that most of the comments they were having conniption fits over were made years ago. For example, his Tweet about nearly running over a Jewish kid in his German car was dated September 18, 2009.
The manufactured outrage against Noah has echoes of the victimization of former Business Insider CTO Pax Dickinson. In 2013, Dickinson was the target of a Valleywag article castigating him for satirical Tweets he’d made over the years, many from when he was almost unknown and his Twitter account was only followed by family and friends. Despite the fact that Dickinson was well-liked by his colleagues and had received no complaints about his conduct at work, he was fired after Gawker hatchet-men Nitasha Tiku and Sam Biddle whipped up a Twitter frenzy against him.
The fact that SJWs are so eager to defenestrate public figures—even fellow travelers like Trevor Noah—over comments made in the past is absolutely chilling. Because it’s impossible to predict what the Twitter twits of tomorrow will be offended by, this means that anyone could potentially be a target of their wrath. As Return of Kings publisher Roosh satirized in his short story “The Denouncer,” even seemingly innocuous remarks could draw the ire of professional Puritans and the loss of employment and income that comes with it.
As noted above, the fact that Comedy Central is standing by Noah despite the attacks against him is commendable. However, the existence of a vocal minority of self-appointed cultural commissars with the power to ruin lives is worrying for the future of America. A group of people who form a lynch mob over a couple of bad jokes are effectively foot soldiers for a new form of tyranny.