Rabbi Brad Hirschfield on Tracy Morgan's homophobic rant, Palin's e-mails and more (video)

Jun 13, 2011

Today's topics:

  • Was Tracy Morgan's rant what free speech is about, or did he cross the line?
  • Have you learned anything from Sarah Palin's e-mails?

Why are we so interested in Gov. Palin? It seems silly to me why so much attention is given to her. And spending so much time and money looking into her emails, unbelievable!

What have you found that will comdemn Sarah?

I'm having a tough time with this. I do think people are being overly sensitive as I think he was just being a comedian. But I also don't find it appropriate that most comedians choose such sensitive topics (like the ones you mention) for their schtick. But if you limit what they can include, does it keep them from being true entertainers?

The constitution protects us from being criminally prosecuted for the content of our speech. It does not protect us from being criticized for the content of our speech. This is as it should be. Mr. Morgan hasn't been charged with a crime. He's not being brought before a judge. His free speech rights are firmly intact. He's being judged and criticized by his fellow citizens for his publicly made comments. Oh. well.

Tracy Morgan is going to say anything he can get away with. Whether or not the line is crossed depends upon where each listener chooses to have that line lie. As a White Anglo Saxon Protestant, I prefer humor that does not pit us against each other. As a woman, my dirty secret is that I still laugh at Man Jokes. When push comes to shove and Mr. Morgan starts feeling his bad taste in his wallet, I expect to hear The Lenny Bruce Defense.

Tracy Morgan's comments and the resulting backlash have nothing to do with the First Amendment or free speech. The First Amendment protects you from being arrested for something you said, it does not protect you from the consequences of what you said. Mr. Morgan is free to say whatever he wants but that does not mean he is free from the consequences of those words.

"Should" is not the reality here. Mr. Morgan's employment will be secure until the 30 Rock producers lose money. Bad taste is highly profitable. 30 Rock is not exactly a bastion of good taste to begin with.

But he apologized. Said he was an" equal opportunity jokester." Is the media making too much of this?

Why does the gay community get so outraged when the laughter is directed at them when they laugh the hardest when their comediens are saying hateful things about religious groups?

Tracy Morgan is known for being outrageous. How can we even be surprised about his tirade? He abuses everyone.

LAST QUESTION: I am sure you are expecting this question, so someone has to ask me, so I will try and be the one to ask it. What are the ethics of a married man who probably did not break the law nor physically contact women other than his wife, but who shared sexually themed photographs and discussions with women other than his wife on the Internet?

In This Chat
Brad Hirschfield
Brad Hirschfield is the president of Clal - The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. He writes the For God's Sake blog for The Washington Post. A regular on Lou Dobbs Tonight on the Fox Business Network. he appears frequently on NPR, PBS, and CNN, and is routinely listed as one of America?s "most influential rabbis." His most recent book is You Don't Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism.
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