By Circa24 (author of Silent Consent)
When I heard that Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars, I felt dismayed by the violence. Then, I heard about the cruel and thoughtless joke that Mr. Rock made at the expense of Mr. Smith’s beloved wife.
How dare someone bully a person with a medical condition and call it “comedy?” I place Mr. Rock’s “humor” on par with President Trump’s when he mocked Serge F. Kovaleski, the reporter with a muscular disability.
Although I abhor violence, I re-evaluated my initial response. Smith sat there and listened as Rock publicly humiliated someone he loved. Then, he went to the stage, and rather than punching him, he had enough restraint to limit his blow to a slap. Mr. Smith, if you read this, I am not sure I would have had the same self-restraint if someone verbally and publicly bullied a person whom I loved. I doubt that I would have endured a silenced heart.
Discourse had become increasingly uncivil. The cheap and hurtful laughs of bullying now pass for mainstream comedy. Mr. Smith reminded us that violations of personal boundaries and toying with our emotions can have consequences. When pushed beyond reason, people will respond.
The immediate cause of the altercation lies not with Will Smith but with Chris Rock’s abusive and goading attempts at humor. However, the ultimate cause lies with us, a society that has increasingly tolerated and accepted cheap laughs at the expense of someone’s person rather than their actions.