My jaw continues to hang open in amazement at Michael Richards.
News came last week that Richards also went on an anti-Semitic hate harangue at a club in the spring, but Richards claimed he had a defense, albeit a lame one. Per the AP,
"Last week, crisis-management expert Howard Rubenstein acknowledged that Richards had shouted anti-Semitic remarks in an April stand-up comedy routine -- well before his appearance earlier this month in which he harangued hecklers with the n-word. But he defended Richards' language about Jews, saying that the comic "is Jewish. He's not anti-Semitic at all. He was role-playing."
We'll leave aside for a moment the erroneous idea that Jews (or members of any religion for that matter) can't be self-loathing, and deal with the obvious issue at hand: Turns out, Richards isn't Jewish.
Again, the AP:
"Technically, not having been born by blood as Jewish and not formally going into a conversion, it was purely his interpretation of having adopted Judaism as his religion," Richards' spokesman, Howard Rubenstein, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "He told me, 'I'm Jewish,' when I asked him ... He really thinks of himself as Jewish."
The Richards scandal, at its root, is about feelings (hurt ones) and so it's understandable that he might base his faith on his "feelings" as well - but unfortunately, that's not how it works. Not in Catholicism, and certainly not in any Judaism I know of.
Hell, you even have to register to become a Democrat; you don't just walk into a voting booth and "emote liberality."
What's even worse than lacking any Jewish identity is the use of it in the defense of attacking it. Richards' anti-Semitism defense is, at its core, is the lamest, most bogus kind of extenuation: The "I'm Jewish, so I can call someone a cheap kike and get away with it." It's the, "I'm Latino, so I can make jokes about Mexicans" apologia.
These are the cheapest kind of jives, because if something is funny, it's funny. It might be ribald, or even racist, but at least it stands on its own. The comic who says, "Hey, wait a minute -- I'm Italian (or Polish, or black), so I am allowed to say this kind of stuff," is guilty of the worst sin in comedy: Cowardice.
Perhaps, because I often feel like a pilot and identify with their rakish caps, I'll pound on the door of the cockpit during my next flight, demanding "I can fly! Let...me...fly!"
After the air marshals take me away in chains, I'll have Howard Rubinstein explain to the Associated Press,
"Technically, not having any wings and not receiving any formal training as a pilot, it was purely his interpretation of having adopted aviation as his profession... he told me 'I can fly' when I asked him... He really thinks of himself as a pilot."