TLDR: Will Smith and Free Speech.

Global Pandemics, lockdowns, social insecurity, warring nations, crumbling financial institutions, corrupt politicians, epic homeless and joblessness, historic inflation, children going hungry – But ignore all that: An actor slapped another actor!

All jokes aside. This event has opened up a few interesting caches of conversation. First is that people are divided on if what Will Smith did was “right” or “wrong”. (In case you are one of the 90% of people who don’t care about the OSCARS and not one of the 80% of people who learn current events based on memes: Will Smith slapped Chris Rock for making a joke about her hairless medical condition)

One topic to raise first is that some people are assuming this is a stunt to get ratings and was scripted – now I would have said this was impossible because Will Smith isn’t that good of an actor – but then 15 minutes later he got a best actor award NOT for slapping Chris Rock but for King Richard… So is he a good enough actor? The Academy is trying to tell me he is…

In truth if this was staged and the producers of this show were smart enough to create moments of interest for their show they wouldn’t have three unfunny hosts who parrot leftist sexism, race and gender jokes implying Hollywoood is slowly becoming progressive and picking as much low hanging fruit as possible.

So I’ve heard from a lot of people that Will Smith was “right” and “Justified” for having publicly assaulted (read: girly slap) Chris Rock because his joke had been aimed at Smith’s wife’s medical condition – apparently medical conditions are over the line for comedy/roasting. And this must be true because after he got his award for best actor and enjoyed the rest of the expensive night, he went and partied and never faced any consequence of any real kind except the ridicule he gets everyday for being Will Smith from audiences.

Part of the reason this has been considered by many as “justified” is that words are violence. Jokes are now targeted attacks. (Ignore that Chris Rock has said – whether true or not – that he didn’t know she had Alopecia and just thought she’d shaved her head for fun) If he needed to defend his wife (again whether he wanted to or felt forced to because of his wife’s commands) surely there was less public and pathetic ways to deal with it. We live in a progressively passive society that decries Toxic masculinity and as we know words are as violence and all – but Will Smith slaps a comedian for doing his job on stage in from of ten or eleven viewers and is praised by many for standing up for his wife.

But did he? There is an argument that Will Smith may have PTSD or some other form of mental issue due to abuse and lack of control in his relationship – his wife publicly has said and its become common knowledge that he wanted a monogamous relationship but she pushed for an open marriage after cheating on him and he accepted it, even crying during an interview about how much it had hurt him to get to this stage – but he’s doing what he can to make it work.

I will say up front I have a lot of empathy for Smith in this. While I do believe personally there is nothing wrong with open relationships or polyamory and other forms of non-monogamy – they have to be explored as couples or partners are in agreement to it. ALL parties must be in agreement and careful consideration and communication and acceptance must be in effect at all times otherwise someone risks being hurt. And I look at this guy and I see someone who is hurt and ridiculed by the world at large as a “cuck”.

There is always the potential that Chris Rock is one of those guys that poked Will’s wife and this was a straw over the line. Or maybe he lap dogged. Or maybe the guy feels like he and his relationship is seen as a joke (the three witches hosting the show had made a crack at their marriage earlier in the night even) and he decided to try and assert his dominance publicly. I mean after the girly slap he did shout repeatedly KEEP MY WIFE’S NAME OUT YA FUCKING MOUTH.

And then breaking down in tears after getting his best actor award, talking about how love makes you do crazy things. I feel like – and of course I could be wrong – here is a guy in a painful, strained and broken relationship. Struggling to deal with how he feels about himself and the public perception he faces while being not just a man – but a public figure whose life is open to international attention. While we don’t know what his peer group say to him – we know that the internet has run with it with aplomb.

It’s disgusting that I am even writing this essay because there is already way too much attention on this and every dick and their idiot friend is making a video, podcast or whatever about this and its all I can see. The level of memes about it is insane. And regardless of right or wrong – it can’t feel good being this dude right now.

I will say I believe Chris Rock handled this incredibly. He should be praised for defusing the situation as best he could and standing righteously against the incident. A lot of people with their public pride would have had some kind of a big reaction. This dude is memorable for his lack of any outstanding reaction. MUCH PRAISE.

There is an argument that Will Smith was right. My personal belief is that freedom of speech and the application of comedy should trump all else. Yes if someone says something that offends you, whether directly or indirectly, you’re in your rights to be offended. But regardless of the current world view – set forth by how increasingly sensitive the world is becoming – WORDS ARE NOT VIOLENCE and therefore should not be met with violence.

Even “Hate speech” is not violence. One thing that really bothers me is racism in all forms. But I don’t go around punching racists every chance I get – for one reason, i’d be accused as a Racist myself because half the racists are black. And for another reason: I believe education and understanding can help everyone become more equitable. Knowledge is the only cure to ignorance. Forcing people against their own beliefs, through words or actions, to recede will just isolate their hate and keep it festering.

But also, in our Tribalist, social media infused world now original thinking and honest debate is in short supply and in our monkey see monkey do world any praise heaped onto this will invite not just mockery but imitation. Freedom of speech and debate are under constant attack as the world looks to push this imaginary narrative that our dystopian reality is a utopia of progressive ideals and so instead of someone getting offended by a comedian on stage at a club sometime or Netflix employees having a walkout – what happens when someone walks on stage and punches a comedian? Or takes a gun on stage and treats them like Dimebag Darrel?

As girly a slap as it was, it still sets a precedent on public TV and when we have such a weak society afraid to speak out against the mob consensus, if the mob interprets this as a justifiable act – we’ll see more of it and again, freedom of speech is under attack. I believe Will Smith should have been arrested and charges filed for assault just to send a message that words are not violence – violence is violence even in its most infantile stages.

I’ve heard it said many times that comedy is the Canary in the Coal mines of culture. And I truly believe that’s right. Comedians are routinely being “cancelled” for making jokes about any topic or group which would rather see itself as victimised instead of included in the narrative. Venues often have a “no talk” list for events. Stifle comedy; stifle free speech… Stifle free speech; stifle original thought… Keep going and there’ll be nothing left to say except sorry.

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