Violence over laughs – Is this a threat to free speech?

In recent news we have witnessed very influential and successful comedy acts being subject of violent attacks. Last week we saw Dave Chappelle being rushed while on stage performing at the ‘Netflix is a Joke’ festival. A 23 year old man was seen attempting to tackle him to the ground.

There is speculation on what his motivations were but we do know there are a large group of people who do not have love for Dave Chappelle’s eccentric and quite simply, wild jokes.

Just over a month before this we saw Will Smith’s internet breaking slap landing on Chris Rock’s face after an arguably distasteful joke aimed at his wife. There are always mixed reaction in scenarios like this, however we have to take a moment to think, is this okay?

Since the Oscar’s we have seen some disciplinary action taken towards Will Smith, although Chris Rock decided not to press charges he still received a ban from attending the Oscar’s. A very disappointing outcome for Will Smith’s fans after he finally won an Oscar.

Chappelle’s attacker was subsequently arrested and found with weapons, a replica of a gun which has the ability of projecting a knife. Dave Chappelle has been subject to a lot of hate from the trans community due to his recent jokes about the community. As a comedic artist, should he be restricted in his form of creative expression in order to please a certain group?

Comedy can, at times, be an extreme sport. It may lead to hurt feelings, watery eyes and belly aching laughs. The issue presents however, when people feel comfortable enough to cause harm to another for something as light hearted as a joke. Where do we draw the line? Hopefully this does not become an ongoing theme, we do not want to hurt comedy which is a core part of our culture. Many jokes are expensive, for people from all walks of life, and we as a society continue to pay the cost because it allows us to be human.

This is an ongoing debate, feel free to leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.

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