Katie Rich, a staff writer at Saturday Night Live, has been “suspended indefinitely” over a joke she tweeted this past weekend. The tweet is as follows:
“Barron will be this country’s first home-school shooter.”
The Barron, Ms. Rich is referring to, is Barron Trump, President Donald Trump’s 10 year-old son. Critics of the tweet believe not only is it distasteful, but it’s downright unnecessary to bring a child into something this, as he is someone who never asked for this media circus — he was only born into it.
And I agree: I do think the joke is distasteful. It does leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But do I think she should have been suspended from her job over the joke? Absolutely not. Since when did the freedom of speech — not only our first amendment, but one of the things we are absolutely guaranteed to in life — consequently get you fired from your job?
Rich didn’t joke about Barron, as a person, per say, either. She “joked” (I used this word lightly because it’s difficult to have the words “joke” and “shooter” in the same sentence) about the fact that he is growing up in such a royally f**ked up society, with – let’s face it– a power hungry father, a mother who realistically didn’t ask to be the first lady, and three successful siblings. And Tiffany. Rich was “joking” that this would all lead to a recipe for disaster – for a child to grow up into a troubled adult – but a spoiled child, who will have the luxury of homeschooling his entire life.
I believe, under our first amendment, individuals do have the right to say whatever they want without consequence, short of direct abuse, threats or violence. Yes, there are gray areas, which America has shown in time and time again that they’ll never get sick of debating this. Some may make the argument that Rich’s tweet falls under the category of “abuse”. However, I believe that if you look at the tweet in context, it’s not abuse. An ill- advised remark? Yes. Observational humor? Perhaps. But abusive? No. It’s a statement that legally she has every right to say.
Furthermore, many people think that all jokes regarding Barron are off limits because A. he’s 10 and B. he didn’t ask for this intrusive media presence. I think that only as our culture has become more and more politically correct, that this unwritten rule becomes more and more enforced. You could have said this twenty years ago and no one would have batted an eye. It doesn’t make it right, but it should make many Americans re- think their vilification of Katie Rich. She’s a comedian, not a monster. She made a dumb joke – no need to punish her for the rest of eternity.
And besides, SNL is infamous for making fun of the children of political figures – whether it was Chelsea Clinton back in Bill’s heyday, Chris Farley as Rudy Giuliani’s energetic son Andrew, or Jimmy Carter’s daughter Amy back in the 70’s. So why does THIS specific writer get punished NOW? Is it because we’re living in this specific time, where individuals are on the edge of their seats, glued to their social media accounts, waiting to tear down the next person who shows any sign of vulnerability or maybe has a lapse of judgement and says the wrong thing? Is it simply because we’re living in a far more PC, sensitive world than years past? Or is it because our administration is controlling the power of free speech and threatening to mute those who defy our government?
Personally, a joke that is racist, sexist, homophobic or ableist makes me far more uncomfortable than the joke Katie Rich tweeted. Especially if these jokes are coming from our commander in chief (newsflash – they are.) Why can Donald Trump joke about dating a 10 year old girl without consequence? Why does he still get to be our president? If Rich is forced to take accountability for her actions, so should our president. Let’s – as a nation – hold all Americans to the same standard; whether that be the common man or the man who holds the most power. Because right now, it appears that comedy writers for late night variety shows are being held to a much higher standard than the leader of the free world. And that alone needs to be dealt with immediately.
As a country, we still have a long way to go when it comes to sorting out these standards, but here’s a word of advice: if you’re trying to set a precedent, start with the president.