Comedians are always at the mercy of people who want to shut them up just because they don’t like them.
Let me start by saying that I’m so, so sorry that I’m US-based and that what I am going to talk about might not hold water in whatever corner of the world you live in. I can’t help it. I have to be localized somewhere.
Now, mind you, I’ve always been a proponent of free speech and I knew, in theory, that comedians are often the scapegoats in the war against free speech. This may come as a shock to some of you. Let me ask you, do you know Lenny Bruce?
That comedian in that show, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel.
“Oh, yeah. Nice character.”
That’s the thing. He’s not just a character. He’s an historical figure. Here’s his Wikipedia page:
The guy was edgy for his time. So edgy in fact that some people did not like what he was saying. So they got the cops on his case. Unrepentant, Bruce did egg on the cops. Eventually, he was convicted for obscenity. This, of course, was a complete joke, but not the funny kind of joke. The authorities continued making life difficult for him, until he finally died of a drug overdose, at age 40.
In my view, this is death by cop. You make life so difficult for someone that they seek refuge in drugs and end up accidentally killing themselves.
Oh, and that conviction? Bruce was eventually pardoned, because the conviction was bullshit.
“Okay, but what does it have to do with you?”
I’ve had people come to me in the fediverse and ask me why it is that I post this joke or that nonsense. I don’t recall it happening with my Your Autistic Life account, but it definitely happened with another account of mine. Those people don’t even have an argument, they merely question the wisdom of posting what I post.
“A horse goes into a bar…”
“Hey, why are you posting that?”
Why the fuck not??? What is it to you? Do you also police the posts of people who want everyone to know what they had for breakfast? I expect not. No, the problem you have with my posts is that you don’t find them funny, or you are offended for some other reason.
Newsflash: your appreciation of my post does not enter into the equation. I can post super boring posts. I can post stuff that does not make any sense. It is not for you to come over and tell me that I cannot say this. Your choice is to do nothing, block me, or mute me. This is it. The fediverse is a virtual public square. If you don’t like what I say, then you can walk away from me.
It was implied in the discussion above, but whether speech is protected or not, does not depend on whether that speech has any value, whether defined in some sort of pseudo-objective way or subjectively. If you find my nonsense unfunny, fine. I don’t think I’ll be able to make you see the value of it. It does not follow, however, that I’m not allowed to post it.
So when you enjoy free speech, it is, at least in part, because comedians pushed back on the censors. There’s always going to be some jackass that finds that what we do is objectionable somehow.
Thank you, Lenny. Thank you too to all those people who have had to suffer at the hands of authorities so that we can speak freely now. They were not all comedians, but they were heroes.