Louis C.K.’s Awkward Comeback

The masturbator-harasser is doing stand-up again.

Mere months after being pronounced “done” after it was revealed that he forced women over whom he had substantial professional power to watch him masturbate, Louis C.K. is back doing stand-up comedy. Not surprisingly, plenty of women are less than comfortable with that.

As the New York Times reported, when Louis C.K. took the stage for a surprise set at the Comedy Cellar Sunday night, he was met with applause. The short set was his first appearance after he released a statement in November admitting to sexually harassing five women following a New York Times exposé. Two women who sat through C.K.’s set told Vulture that though the small venue’s audience was overwhelmingly supportive of the comedian, one joke about rape whistles was “uncomfortable,” and that there seemed to be a divide between how men and women reacted to C.K.’s presence.

The women were at the Comedy Cellar that night to see another comedian on the lineup when C.K. appeared onstage after a brief introduction from the night’s emcee. “It felt like he was being thrust upon the audience without telling them,” one woman, who asked to remain anonymous, told Vulture. “The audience was very loud when Louis C.K. walked in. They were clearly supportive and surprised when he showed up, but there were a number of women sitting in the front row,” the woman said. From her seat to the left of the stage, she could see a pair of women sitting stone-faced. Her friend, who asked be identified with the initials S.B., noticed the same reaction: “There were at least four to five females that I could see, and three or four of them were not having it. They were just looking at him, deadpan, straight, not having it.”

S.B. said the audience was mostly white, with lots of couples. Both women say the set was awkward, but the first woman was particularly upset by it. “It was an all-male set to begin with. Then, it’s sort of exacerbated by [C.K.’s] presence,” she said. “If someone had heckled him, I think they would’ve been heckled out. It felt like there were a lot of aggressive men in the audience and very quiet women. It’s the kind of vibe that doesn’t allow for a dissenting voice. You’re just expected to be a good audience member. You’re considered a bad sport if you speak out.”

As detailed in “The Limits of Comedy” and “Cultural Vandalism?” I have mixed reactions views about the way we tend to intertwine our reception to an artist’s work and who they are as people. Bill Cosby was a rapist and C.K. was a creep when I was enjoying their work; learning the truth theoretically shouldn’t change that.

This is slightly different. On the one hand, the complaint that C.K.’s appearance at the comedy club was “thrust upon the audience” is odd. After all, big-name comics routinely drop in at these venues, unannounced, to perform new material in front of relatively small crowds as part of building their act. That’s a longstanding part of the culture. On the other, this is a highly unusual circumstance. The audience was indeed essentially forced to watch him perform and it was quite predictable that some would find that appalling, if not insulting or even triggering. And, while we only have the post hoc reflections of a couple of women to go on, it’s quite plausible that they would feel they weren’t free to object or even demonstrate displeasure.

After C.K.’s set, Comedy Cellar owner Noam Dworman said the comedian showed up unannounced, and he didn’t know about the surprise set until later. Dworman told The Hollywood Reporter that he’d only received one email complaining about C.K.’s set, but that the comedian received “a real ovation,” according to audio he heard after the fact. The women agree that C.K.’s reception was warm, with one man shouting that it was “good to have [C.K.] back.” S.B. recalled that the applause at the end of C.K.’s set was a bit quieter than the beginning. “I was actually surprised personally how his exit round of applause compared to his entrance round of applause,” she said. “It was way quieter for sure. There was a huge difference in that volume or in those number of claps.”

The women say C.K.’s set was similar to his usual material, and included a joke about the phrase “clean as a whistle,” which built up to a joke about how rape whistles are not clean. “When he said ‘rape whistle’ people were laughing, and I was just sitting there like oh my fuck. This is so uncomfortable and so disgusting. Everyone around me was laughing. That was just depressing.”

C.K. hasn’t commented on his appearance, but Dworman said the outrage over his return shows that it’s “a dark period for discourse in this country.” The woman told Vulture that it was tense to watch C.K. make jokes in a room so obviously welcoming of him. “You hear this big, loud guy sitting next to you, yelling, ‘Oh, it’s so great to have you back, Louis,’ and people cheering and giving him a standing ovation,” she said. “Our voice is definitely not going to be prioritized in that space. [Dworman] says we can’t [have a discourse] properly. How do you think the women in that room felt? It’s just really frustrating.”

Again, under normal circumstances, I’d find that complaint invalid. When I go to a performance, I’m there to see the performer. The only “voice” I want to “hear” is that of those on stage, not those of random yahoos who came to see the show with me. A comedy club isn’t a venue for “discourse.” There’s a reason stand-up bits are called “monologues.”

But this wasn’t a normal circumstance. He shouldn’t be foisted on an unsuspecting audience with women who feel forced to sit on their hands while others cheer his return.

At the same time, I reject the notion, put forth by Roxane Gay and others, that the perpetrators of sexual misconduct must somehow be kept out of the public limelight until their victims or some other arbiters of social justice deem their penance paid. C.K. hasn’t been charged with, much less convicted of, a crime. He has every right to ply his trade and see if he can work his way back into the good graces of the public. But, as Adrian Hennigan suggests, trying to make the comeback this soon—especially in an act that doesn’t own up to the awfulness of what he did—may make that task harder.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Popular Culture
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. george says:

    Where does rehabilitation come into it? If someone commits a crime, or does something immoral, should it follow them the rest of their life? Is ‘three strikes and you’re out’ now the policy of the left as well the right?

    Having said that, if he keeps doing what he did before, then obviously he’s not been rehabilitated. So the question is, has he continued his masturbation in front of women? If telling off color jokes is now a reason for not letting people work, then half the men and women I know are going to be unemployable.

    Beyond that, if a person’s character determines whether or not we should read, listen, watch or use their creations, then we’re going to be without a lot of music (everything from Mozart, Beethoven to the Rolling Stones and probably 3/4 of rock and jazz), a lot of literature, a lot of art, and even a lot of technology (read up on the personalities of guys like Shockley, the inventors of the transistors that drive most digital communication). In fact, since every human has flaws, has mistreated some people in their lives, we’re going to be without all of it, since its certain that even people who seem never to have been mean or cruel will have done so a few times in their lives.

    We’re all living in glass houses, and throwing stones.

  2. James Joyner says:

    @george: As noted in the threads to the previous postings on the topic, stand-up comics are in a different category than actors who are in an altogether category from inventors and scientists. The former are incredibly tied up in their persona. And, while most of us have done embarrassing or regrettable things in our private lives, most of us haven’t used our positions of power to sexually abuse women.

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  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    Louis might be a perv but he’s not stupid. He drew the sting. He went on-stage unannounced (very common practice) in a situation where counter-attacks (boycotts, calls for resignations etc…) would carry no practical weight. He got a big ovation from the audience. The next time and the next and the next, negative reaction will diminish.

    You cannot effectively shun in a nation of 300 million people. Shunning is for the Amish. What was needed was an end-game, for activists to start thinking realistically about what was next. This is why we have laws, because law brings stability and a degree of consistency, even a bit of justice. What Louis just did was reveal the hollowness of internet activism.

  4. James Pearce says:

    First clue we may not be dealing with the most fair-minded folks here:

    It was an all-male set to begin with.

    Were they all dude-bros?

    Also:

    It felt like there were a lot of aggressive men in the audience and very quiet women.

    That sounds terrible. What were these men doing that was so aggressive?

    “You hear this big, loud guy sitting next to you, yelling, ‘Oh, it’s so great to have you back, Louis,’ and people cheering and giving him a standing ovation.”

    Oh.

    I have a lot of sympathy for the women who were forced to watch Louis C.K. masturbate. I have almost none for the women who were “forced” to watch him make jokes on his drop-in redemption set. Get up and leave.

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  5. Justin says:

    I am reminded of Paula Poundstone, who was charged with driving drunk with children in the car and was also initially charged with lewd acts committed upon children (these latter charges she continues to deny). To my mind, drunk driving with small children in the car is probably far worse than what CK did, and I am assuming for argument’s sake that the “lewd act” stuff didn’t happen. It took some time, but Poundstone rebuilt her career reasonably well. She did so because she is a hilarious, insightful, and otherwise quite likeable entertainer.

    CK will do the same I am sure. It is unlikely that he will ever achieve the peak he achieved a couple of years ago (Poundstone hasn’t), but he will make a nice living again and I will pay to see him live again, just like I have with Poundstone.

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  6. MarkedMan says:

    I wonder if it is different for some types of comedians more than others. Comics like Louis C.K., Cosby, Woody Allen present as themselves while Chevy Chase, Don Rickles, Robin Williams, Jack Benny, Laurel and Hardy, etc were very obviously playing characters. Chase is, by all accounts, a flaming a**hole, Rickles and Benny supposedly much different then their personas, and so forth. Williams was suffering from serious depression at the peak of his career, but it never showed through. I wonder if we can judge them less because when they are performing we don’t see them, but a character.

    Side note: Washington DC’s public radio station used to have (Still has?) an Old Time Radio Show and I listened to a fair amount of Jack Benny. There was a kid on the show for a while and it turns out it was Albert Brooks who went on to have a solid career as an adult. I was listening to him being interviewed and I kind of braced myself to hear horror stories about what it was like to be ground up by Benny and the other stars and how tough they were on kids. Turns out he only had good things to say about the experience and about Benny in particular. He said that if a better joke could be had by making Benny the straight man and giving the laugh to one of the other actors, 100% of the time Benny went with the laugh. And when Brooks had only been on the show a little while and was still a little nervous about doing live radio, he flubbed a line so bad the studio audience erupted into laughter at the glaring mistake. Afterward he was feeling awful and like a failure and he saw Benny coming over and prepared himself for a stern lecture on memorizing lines. Instead Benny breezed past him and said “Hey kid, at least you got a laugh. That’s what counts.”

  7. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    I’ve never liked Louis C.K work as comedian.

    But I don’t think that what he did was trivial(Just ask people in the Sexual Offenders Registry for peeing in public) and he could easily made amendments like saying that he was sorry. People served time and are registered as sexual offenders for lesser offenses. On the other hand I don’t think that we are going to see him on TV.

    Going to comedy clubs is far different from the kind of gig that he was used to do, he is paying somekind of price for what he did.

    And I would not know my reaction if a comedian that I really like(Like Ronny Chieng or Trevor Noah) were jerking off to random women. That’s always tough.

  8. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    He went on-stage unannounced (very common practice) in a situation where counter-attacks (boycotts, calls for resignations etc…) would carry no practical weight.

    I would have left had I been there. And I loved, loved, loved his stuff. Loved Louie.

    I don’t care if society decides later that he’s forgiven and rehabilitated. I cannot.

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  9. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    What Louis just did was reveal the hollowness of internet activism.

    You’re massively over-reading this.

  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    @de stijl:
    I wouldn’t have walked out. I’m not good at being unforgiving, I’ve needed too much forgiveness myself. Without consciously intending it my fiction is quite often centered on matters of redemption. Louis should have done more, he should still do more, but there are too many camels out there for me to strain at a gnat.

    I may be over-reading this, but what I’m noticing more recently is the evanescent nature of social media attacks. To fall back on military metaphors, they’re raids or skirmishes, not invasions or occupations. The next step will be a general weariness with internet dragging as a tactic. It already sets eyes to rolling because it’s so often disproportionate, over-the-top and too-often just plain wrong.

  11. James Pearce says:

    @de stijl:

    You’re massively over-reading this.

    Well….maybe not.

    Aside from the “rape whistle” joke, it seems the most objectionable thing Louis C.K. did here is show up on stage.

    His detractors were probably thinking, “He can’t be on stage. I saw the announcement on Twitter: his career is over.”

    The dudes aggressively cheering him on were probably thinking, “Oh thank god. The mob does not actually rule.”

    Louis C.K. himself was probably thinking, “Oh, that felt great. I can’t wait to get back out on the road with some new material.”

    So yeah, the hollowness of internet activism is, indeed, on full display. In this case, they seem to be the only ones who didn’t get what they wanted.

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  12. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It already sets eyes to rolling because it’s so often disproportionate, over-the-top and too-often just plain wrong.

    Agreed. #MeToo started off as righteous anger over the likes of Harvey Weinstein getting away with serial rapes and the likes of Donald Trump getting away with serial boorishness. But we also lumped in weird things like the “guys in media who hit on me list” and Aziz Ansari being a bad date. Even the Al Franken then was way overblown. Louis C.K. is somewhere in the middle of those, doing something genuinely creepy and wrong.

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  13. de stijl says:

    Public shaming is a good thing, if done properly.

    Some folks need to be publicly shamed – every time Dick Cheney walks off his property I want someone there with a big placard saying “Hey! Dick Cheney! You’re a war criminal!”

    Or Condoleezza Rice – “You aided and abetted war criminals! This cannot be absolved!”

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  14. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    He cornered young comedians who would professionally benefit by his endorsement and abused that power. He masturbated to release on them. Louis CK (whom I used to love) is a vile, despicable POS.

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  15. James Joyner says:

    @de stijl:

    He cornered young comedians who would professionally benefit by his endorsement and abused that power. He masturbated to release on them.

    I said almost exactly that in the lede to the OP:

    Mere months after being pronounced “done” after it was revealed that he forced women over whom he had substantial professional power to watch him masturbate, Louis C.K. is back doing stand-up comedy.

    It’s not Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby. But it’s obviously awful.

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  16. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    This will sound like a low blow, and on this particular issue I really don’t care whether you agree or not.

    Would you allow someone you love to spend ten minutes alone with Louis CK? You know he is a sexual predator.

    But yet you want #metoo to go away because it fucks with the narrative of a worldview you’re invested in.

    Seriously, no foolin’. These things have real world life-warping effects. This is not a historical what-if or the weird Michael Reynolds assertion that art is utterly separated from the artist.

    Would you allow a loved one to have an unsupervised interaction with Louis CK? Yes or no?

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  17. James Pearce says:

    @de stijl:

    Public shaming is a good thing, if done properly.

    I’m not so sure. If you look at the historical injustices visited upon the LGBT community, you’ll see that it was about 5% law enforcement overreach (via sodomy laws and the like) and 95% public shaming.

    Public shaming had black people straightening their hair and immigrants anglicizing their names. It’s a good thing?

    No, it’s bad, very very bad.

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  18. James Joyner says:

    @de stijl:

    Would you allow someone you love to spend ten minutes alone with Louis CK? You know he is a sexual predator.

    I wouldn’t have left my girls with him even before the revelations, in that he always seemed a little weird to me.

    But yet you want #metoo to go away because it fucks with the narrative of a worldview you’re invested in.

    I don’t want #MeToo to go away; I just think its net was cast too wide. I don’t think Al Franken (whose politics I’m not a big fan of) or Aziz Ansari (whose comedy I don’t much care for) deserved to be caught up in it in the way they were.

    I think CK got what he deserved. His conduct was abusive and offensive. Further, he cast himself as an ally of women and was, therefore, a hypocrite to boot.

  19. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    I said almost exactly that in the lede to the OP:

    No. You didn’t.

    He cornered young women and ejaculated on them because he could.

  20. James Pearce says:

    @de stijl:

    You know he is a sexual predator.

    Ted Bundy was a sexual predator. Jeffrey Dahmer was a sexual predator. Louis CK? Just a garden variety pervert.

    More harasser than predator, but such distinctions are for the orderly mind, I guess.

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  21. James Joyner says:

    @de stijl: The NYT account has him ejaculating on his own stomach while the victims watched in horror:

    During Ms. Goodman and Ms. Wolov’s surreal visit to Louis C.K.’s Aspen hotel room, they said they were holding onto each other, screaming and laughing in shock, as Louis C.K. masturbated in a chair. “We were paralyzed,” Ms. Goodman said. After he ejaculated on his stomach, they said, they fled. He called after them: “He was like, ‘Which one is Dana and which one is Julia?’” Ms. Goodman recalled.

    That’s awful enough.

  22. de stijl says:

    @James Pearce:

    More harasser than predator, but such distinctions are for the orderly mind, I guess.

    Why would you reveal such a horrible defect in your psyche willingly?

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  23. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Joyner:
    Add George Takei to the list. There are undoubtedly others – jury trials make mistakes, and Twitter mobs certainly do. The idea promoted vigorously online was essentially that all accusations were true, an absurd position that made the movement powerless against exploitive liars.

    @de stijl:
    I’m sorry, but I think insisting on someone’s complete destruction is wrong. Louis is a creep, he’s not Jeffrey Dahmer. Having been abused myself on one occasion as a child I just never bought into this disproportionate reaction. I never wished the guy dead. I never wished him to be homeless or broke. I’d probably have taken advantage of an opportunity to punch him, but even then, what am I going to do, fly down to where he lived in the Florida panhandle to express my outrage? I’d probably have to fly coach.

    Not every trauma can or should be addressed by vengeance. Sht happens. I don’t think Jesus advised turning the other cheek because it’s good for the perp, but rather because it can in many situations be the best answer for the victim. Once people start howling for vengeance without bothering to explain what they mean, or the limits on same, I’m out of there. An eye for an eye and the whole world blind.

    There’s no question that my incident (and other bits of creepiness) bent my life in unfortunate but also interesting ways. But I live my story, not his, I define who I am and how I’ll treat the events of my life. I’m the star of the Michael Reynolds story, the guy is just a minor character in the long story of me, me, me.

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  24. Gustopher says:

    No one was forced to watch him — get up and leave, and stop by the door to demand your money back if you are so inclined.

    He has a right to try to have a career, if he can. Yes, he’s a scumbag. Yes, it’s fine to shun him. It’s even fine to scream obscenities at him every time he sets foot in public.

    These things will slowly work themselves out. He will probably have a smaller career in the future, harmed by his own grossness. He will find his niche.

    Perhaps he will be embraced by horrible people who just want to make SJWs cry or something. Perhaps he will become the masturbating comedian — start every act by asking if it is ok if he masturbates, and then just go through his routine while going through his routine.

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  25. James Pearce says:

    @de stijl:

    Why would you reveal such a horrible defect in your psyche willingly?

    Rollins Band had a song years ago called “Inhale/Exhale.” The conceit is that you “inhale” good, desirable things and exhale the bad stuff.

    Some of the lyrics:

    Inhale tolerance, Exhale judgement
    Inhale what I am, Exhale what I think I am

    Inhale fact, Exhale assumption
    Inhale what I want to be, Exhale how I want to be seen

    I think of that song often when I’m being a “bad liberal.”

    I don’t care if you think I have a “horrible defect in my psyche.” I care about how I want to be. And I don’t want to be the kind of person who can detect heat but can’t measure it. (So to speak.)

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  26. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    I don’t think Al Franken (whose politics I’m not a big fan of) […] deserved to be caught up in it in the way they were.

    Al Franken absolutely deserved to be pushed out of office. Public servants should not be helping themselves to the public. As these things go, it was a relatively minor transgression, but we should expect and demand better.

    The only question in my mind is whether the people who voted for him deserve to have their votes effectively nullified by his groping.

    My rule of thumb would be that if a Senator or Representative will be replaced by someone of the opposing party, they should hang on until the next election, as damaged goods, but still representing the people of their state or district as they had voted for him.

    But, that wasn’t the case here. He’s been replaced by another Democrat, who will be pretty close on the issues.

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  27. de stijl says:

    @James Pearce:

    That’s super. My “unorderly” mind says I don’t care.

  28. James Joyner says:

    @Gustopher:

    Al Franken absolutely deserved to be pushed out of office. Public servants should not be helping themselves to the public. As these things go, it was a relatively minor transgression, but we should expect and demand better.

    Franken’s only documented transgression occurred while he was a touring comedian, not a politician. It was boorish behavior but not something that mandated his being ousted from the Senate a dozen years after the fact. The follow-on accusations were of an even milder nature and there’s no evidence that they occurred.

  29. James Pearce says:

    @de stijl: You asked…

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  30. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Once people start howling for vengeance without bothering to explain what they mean, or the limits on same, I’m out of there.

    Again, massively over-reading.

  31. george says:

    @James Joyner:

    I find the distinction between comedians, actors, and inventors in terms of how tied up their persona is in their invention to be very questionable. Or simply wrong. The inventors I know (and have read about) are as egotistical and driven about their inventions as any comedian is about their routine – you basically need that obsessive drive to work through all the problems that come up in developing a truly new technology. Engineering is one of those activities that looks clean in the final write-up, but the actual process of developing new technology is very messy, full of false starts, heart breaking failures of hopeful leads, funding shortages, and repeated waves of discouraging failure. Almost any inventor will tell you that you need to be very wrapped up in your invention to make it through all that.

    And I agree masturbating in front of women is horrible, and he should be put in court. But people do worse things, all the way up to murder. Should those people never be rehabilitated either? Stick a knife in someone (pretty common in gang fights) and you’re marked for life?

    Progressives seem to be on board with conservatives now that once you’ve done real evil (and people do it) you should never be forgiven, never be rehabilitated. I don’t know many people who’ve done sex crimes, its more drug related gang violence for minority youth. But I do know that throwing out rehabilitation for serious offenses is going to cause an awful lot of damage – if nothing else, it means there’s no point in trying to change, since you’re marked for life. The left used to know this, but they’re now completely in line with the right on the hard on crime approach.

  32. James Joyner says:

    @george:

    The inventors I know (and have read about) are as egotistical and driven about their inventions as any comedian…

    I don’t care how they interact with their work, only how the public does. While illusory, the audience has a personal connection with a stand-up comedian and their persona. It’s intrinsic to the act. Their jokes often only work because they come across as likable rogues; otherwise, they’d just come across as jerks. It’s simply different for inventors. I never think about Thomas Edison when I flip on a light switch and seldom think about Steve Jobs when I use my iPhone; they’re just tools.

  33. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner: The follow on accusations were pretty numerous, and from people who had been supporters (so they were less likely to have an axe to grind), and many of whom had mentioned it to others at the time and had documentation of that (so they weren’t just making it up now).

    You are correct, however, that there was no definitive proof, such as someone dusting a woman’s butt for fingerprints and matching it to the Senator.

    He was the Grabby Senator from Minnesota.

    Now, compared to many Republicans, and many Catholic Priests, this behavior is trivial, but we in the Democratic Party have a bit higher standard than that.

    (Had he run as Senator Grabby, and was offering photo shoots “with or without groping”, then that would be fine as everyone would have consented)

  34. george says:

    @de stijl:

    Would you allow someone you love to spend ten minutes alone with someone convicted of murder, or serious physical assault, or someone who spent their youth in a gang?

    If not, does that mean you believe those people should never be allowed to work again? Sex crimes are a subset of serious crimes, and not even the worst category of those crimes (that would be murder). Its extremely naive to think that standards applied to sex crimes won’t also be applied to other serious crimes; if there’s no forgiveness here, then there will be no forgiveness for other violent crimes. Fine I suppose if you live in a safe middle class world, where no one you know and love ends up caught in gangs during their youth, and then tries to restart their life as an adult. Not so good for the poor and minorities.

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  35. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    He has a right to try to have a career

    As do the people who want him to not have a career now that we know what he did.

    Louis CK is / was a great comedian who writes well and road-tests his bits and hones them to a fine point, and he is also a sexual predator.

    He abused his position and influence. He is the shittiest person you can be. At the time this happened he could make or break your career with a phone call.

    He’s intelligent, insightful, charming (kinda). And he is also a sexual predator.

    He does not have a “right” to a career unimpeded by this.

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  36. de stijl says:

    @george:

    Fine I suppose if you live in a safe middle class world, where no one you know and love ends up caught in gangs during their youth, and then tries to restart their life as an adult. Not so good for the poor and minorities.

    Your supposition about my background is so very wrong. I was a homeless person. Literally. I slept raw and I squatted. I over-wintered in St. Paul without one joule of central heating.

    Go out on your porch or stoop – now live there for the next five months. Could you?

    There is a huge difference between having a hard go of it and sexually abusing someone. Poor people and racial minorities? You’re really going there? You, george, just tried to pull the “I’m the Champion of the poor and undeserved” bit?

    In fact, there is no similarity at all, and you’re just trying to mitigate my assertion that Louis CK is shitty sexual predator and a bad person. And you just tried to shame me, publicly. I won’t have that ;-).

  37. de stijl says:

    @James Pearce:

    Ted Bundy was a sexual predator. Jeffrey Dahmer was a sexual predator. Louis CK? Just a garden variety pervert.

    This is really disturbing.

  38. george says:

    @de stijl:

    Sorry about making an assumption about you, my bad. However, the effect on minority youth of “tough on crime” and “three strikes” policies is very well documented; Google if you doubt. I’ve never listened to Louis CK, and as far as I know he admitted to his crimes. That isn’t in question; what’s in question is if someone can ever be rehabilitated after doing serious crimes (and Louis CK’s are serious); the left has until now said yes, rehabilitation is possible, the right has said no, once guilty always guilty. The left is now joining the right in that attitude, and that will have consequences far beyond some comedian most people have never heard of.

    This isn’t about Louis CK, its about whether someone can continue to work after committing a serious crime. You and many others are saying no. I’m saying that’s going to affect far more people than those rich and famous enough to have their cases mentioned on something like OOTB, and that if there’s no rehabilitation allowed for the rich and famous, then there’s definitely going to be none for the poor and unknown.

    That’s the way the right has always done it; they’ve taken a few really bad cases of extreme crimes, and used that to set the policy for all crime. And its happening again, except this time the left and the right are in agreement.

  39. george says:

    @James Joyner:

    I don’t see why the public’s response has anything to do with it; the relationship between the inventor and their work is what defines the work.

    If a creator’s evil tarnishes their work, then its tarnished whether or not the public thinks or knows about it. If on the other hand the value of someone’s work is independent of the morality of its creator, then it can be good despite the creator being an evil person. And I think that’s how life actually works – some evil people have done things that (perhaps unintentionally) have helped humanity greatly, some good people have done things that unintentionally have hurt humanity.

    The saying ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’ applies here; Shockley for instance was a eugenicist. So was Tommy Douglas, a driving force behind Canada’s acceptance of public health care. I don’t care, the good of their creations stands on its own, outside of the evil of the creators.

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  40. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Not every trauma can or should be addressed by vengeance.

    Is repeatedly and consistently reminding someone that they are a shitty human being vengeance? Louis CK is a shitty person and a sexual predator.

    He knows this; we are not ambushing him with new information.

  41. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl:

    He abused his position and influence. He is the shittiest person you can be. At the time this happened he could make or break your career with a phone call.

    Let’s not exaggerate.

    Every day we are exposed to examples of people who are demonstrably shittier people. People who do far more damage to far more people.

    And, Louis C. K. was never in a position to make or break someone’s career — he was in a position where he could make a phone call and give someone a significant opportunity, but they would still have had to be good to make use of that opportunity.

    I don’t think I can enjoy his work anymore. I always assumed that he played a character that was a creepier version of himself, but it turns out that, no, he played a less creepy version of himself.

    He’s not entitled to a career in comedy, but he has a perfect right to try, although he will always be dragging around a big pile of baggage with him.

    And, ultimately, that seems basically fair.

    I’m not saying it’s perfect, or that it is the right price, but it’s a price — when so many other people pay none.

    He’s lucky he’s not on a sex offender registry, and unable to live within 1500 ft of any school, church or park.

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  42. Gustopher says:

    @george:

    what’s in question is if someone can ever be rehabilitated after doing serious crimes (and Louis CK’s are serious); the left has until now said yes, rehabilitation is possible, the right has said no, once guilty always guilty. The left is now joining the right in that attitude, and that will have consequences far beyond some comedian most people have never heard of.

    There can be foregiveness, but still be consequences.

  43. george says:

    @Gustopher:

    I agree that there should be consequences; jail time in Louis CK’s case seems appropriate. But never working again? Except for the case of either capital punishment (which I’m strongly against) or life imprisonment, both of which make working again impossible, I don’t think being unable to work should be one of the consequences of having committed even the worst crime (murder).

  44. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    Every day we are exposed to examples of people who are demonstrably shittier people.

    I’ve never had someone masturbate in front of me ever. Let alone as a power statement / because he could get away with it.

    If you do that you are a shitty person and a sexual predator.

  45. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    He’s not entitled to a career in comedy, but he has a perfect right to try, although he will always be dragging around a big pile of baggage with him.

    And, ultimately, that seems basically fair.

    Agree. I’d strike the “perfect”, but I could live with this.

  46. James Pearce says:

    @de stijl:

    This is really disturbing.

    Nah, most of the time the distinction between a sexually violent predator and a weenie wagger is, in fact, a legal one. Maybe sex offender is what you’re going for. That’s the more general term.

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  47. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner: I think you about nailed it. The outlier is Louis C.K. I can’t even get it into my head why someone would walk in on a couple of women and whip out his business and start jerking off. Bizarre doesn’t begin to describe it.

  48. Gustopher says:

    @george: if your work depends on the goodwill of others, and you destroy that good will, you’re going to have a hard time.

    Maybe don’t do that?

    If he can’t make a come back in comedy, then he may have to find another career. I hear coal is back, and the mines are hiring. He’ll be fine.

  49. de stijl says:

    @James Pearce:

    It is bizarre (and disturbing) that you made that connection – that sexually predatory behavior isn’t *that* bad because he didn’t kill and eat her. Do you understand how fucked up that is?

  50. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    Every day we are exposed to examples of people who are demonstrably shittier people.

    This is the worst excuse. We should allow what he did to keep happening because at least he didn’t kill her and eat her spleen?

    I understand category differences. Louis CK is not Hitler or Pol Pot or Jeffrey Dahmer, but he is still a really bad, really fucked up dude who did horrible things to women because he wanted to and because he thought he could get away with it.

    “He didn’t kill her and eat her spleen” is not an argument you want to make.

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  51. de stijl says:

    Never excuse the behavior of a predator.

  52. Han says:

    @george: He is not unable to work. No one is stopping him from working. He can always wash dishes. Though as he’s financially well off, I doubt he’s even applying for jobs.

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  53. de stijl says:

    @george:

    This isn’t about Louis CK, its about whether someone can continue to work after committing a serious crime. You and many others are saying no. I’m saying that’s going to affect far more people than those rich and famous enough to have their cases mentioned on something like OOTB, and that if there’s no rehabilitation allowed for the rich and famous, then there’s definitely going to be none for the poor and unknown.

    That’s a really interesting point.

    I think that it boils down to relative power and the abuse of that. My immediate reaction is that people who abuse their relative power over others for their own benefit is reprehensible and nigh unforgivable. There is a distinction between burglary and robbery. I’m taking your stuff whether I sneak into your empty house when you’re at work or if I stick a gun in your face and demand your wallet and watch. There is a moral distinction between “I’m yoinking your unattended valuables”, and “Give me your wallet or I’ll kill you.”

  54. James Pearce says:

    @de stijl:

    It is bizarre (and disturbing) that you made that connection – that sexually predatory behavior isn’t *that* bad because he didn’t kill and eat her. Do you understand how fucked up that is?

    It is not bizarre nor disturbing nor fucked up to acknowledge degrees of bad behavior; it’s what civilized people do. And it is not bizarre nor disturbing nor fucked up to dispute that the label “sexual predator” should apply to a weenie wagger pervo who is only touching himself.

    This is not a defense of weenie wagger pervos or actual sexual predators. It is intellectual and moral rigor. That’s all.

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  55. Michael Reynolds says:

    I don’t get this love affair with victimization. Half the country is competing in social media for the role of victim. WTF? I’ve got at least half a dozen ways I could claim ‘victimization,’ but why in the world would I want to? How would it profit me? How would it make my life better or me happier?

    I think this is really bad psychology. I think it’s a mass, societal error. In fact it strikes me as being in many cases a function of privilege. Look at me, I’m weak! No, I’m weak! Nuh uh, I’m weaker than you! You know who makes a fetish of victimization? People who don’t know there are wolves out there.

    Teen mother, broken home, molestation, poverty, rootlessness, absent father, jail, ADD, HS drop-out, dyspraxia, male pattern baldness, waaah, poor me. Jesus Christ. I hitchhiked cross-country as a nubile, blond 16 year-old, you know how many times some guy grabbed my dick or tried to get me to blow him? Neither do I, because I didn’t keep track because I didn’t know that I was a ‘victim’ I just thought they were asholes. It’s like people are Velcro now, everything sticks to them. I much prefer Teflon. Nothing sticks to me, I don’t let it, because I control my life and my mind and as a result, despite my various ‘victimizations,’ I’m remarkably happy.

    People are doing it wrong. There’s no joy in playing victim.

  56. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl:

    This is the worst excuse. We should allow what he did to keep happening because at least he didn’t kill her and eat her spleen?

    No, but we shouldn’t be pretending that it was the worst thing a man could do.

    He didn’t even touch the women. (Not that this is the be all and end all — Al Franken did touch the women, but was way, way less worse)

    Now, that might just be because his kink is being watched wanking — and he should get down on his knees and thank the god that doesn’t exist that this kink limited the damage that he did — but for whatever the reasons, he did less damage. And that’s a good thing.

    He is a sex offender that stopped just short of sexual assault.

    Yes, it’s bad. Yes, he shouldn’t do it again. No one should.

    And, to some extent, he will get away with it. His career will be damaged, and that’s all the price he will pay, basically because he didn’t touch anyone.

    There’s a gradient of offenses and responses, and there’s always going to be a gray zone where you’re uncomfortable, and Louis CK found that uncomfortable zone.

    But in all likelihood, he won’t do it again — he claims he thought it was consensual, and that he always asked before pulling it out, and I believe that he believes this. It’s scary that he can convince himself of that, but it also means he is less likely to do it again.

    So, there’s that.

  57. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    People are doing it wrong. There’s no joy in playing victim.

    Maybe if you tried playing victim, you would discover the joy in it.

  58. Matt says:

    @James Joyner: Are you talking about the picture involving this woman?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdQKe9p5q_s

    Yeah she has her own problems with groping and rubbing men on camera without invitation…

    @george:

    This isn’t about Louis CK, its about whether someone can continue to work after committing a serious crime. You and many others are saying no.

    Really at this point they might as well be advocating for the execution of anyone who has ever committed a crime. The mindset being displayed here is that rehabilitation is impossible so that leaves the death penalty as the only option.

    Bonus points the death penalty for all solves the whole trying to get a career after committing a crime thing being discussed here.

    Personally I think what CK did was terrible but in the grand scheme of things his actions were very mild.

    @Gustopher: Yeah nice summary of my opinion too 😛

    @James Pearce: People have been arrested and registered as sex offenders for taking a piss off the side of a rural road. The only witness being the county sheriff who drove by and decided to be an asshole.