Another week, another star falling from the sky. This time, the media was salivating (while simultaneously acting sad) as they devoured the carcass of comedian Louis C.K. after he admitted to sexual misconduct. While C.K. issued what many thought was a thoughtful apology, he forgot that a thoughtful apology is just a tool for the internet to identify whose life they are going to ruin next.
The left had became so enamored by the comedian, because he gave impassioned speeches on behalf of Hillary Clinton and focused his material on how gross men are, that they somehow ignored that he was by his own admission one of those gross men. C.K.’s comedy often centered on his deviancy, for instance, the time he had sex with a prostitute who turned out to be man. He also frequently discussed his uncontrollable urge to masturbate . Yet the social elite celebrated him as a flawed philosopher, only to tear him up as soon as those flaws were exposed – even though his transgressions are much tamer than one would expect by a comedian who proudly joked about jerking off in between the twin towers falling on 9/11.
Here are the sex acts Louis C.K. actually did according to the New York Times piece that prompted his admission:
- Around 20 years, he asked a coworker if he could masturbate in front of her. She said yes and he did just that.
- 15 years ago, after asking if he could take his penis out, he did so and started masturbating in front of 2 women who had come up to his hotel room.
- 14 years ago, he was reportedly masturbating on the phone to a woman.
- 12 years ago, he asked a woman working on a television pilot if he could masturbate in front of her, and she said no. Nothing further happened.
None of this behavior is acceptable. In fact, the New York Times probably gets it right when they refer to it as “sexual misconduct.” And you could even make the case that the two work incidents were bordering on sexual harassment, even if C.K. wasn’t necessarily either of the girls’ superior.
But as important as it is to discuss C.K.’s behavior, it is also important to note what his behavior is not. C.K. did not rape any women. He did not threaten anyone’s job. It appears he never even touched a woman. It also seems like he at least attempted to either ask for consent or give fair warning before getting naked (even if those attempts are inherently flawed, since a red head asking to jerk off in front of you catches most people off guard). Perhaps most importantly, it seems that C.K. was able to stop this behavior, as no new reports have come out in the past 10 years.
If this news had been released a year ago, it would be hard to understand how C.K. lost his TV shows, his movie, and his representation given what other celebrities have survived. Chris Brown beat Rihanna, and R. Kelly is reported to have a harem of sex slaves, yet the pair is recording love songs TOGETHER. Mark Wahlberg violently beat a man out of racism and we let him play the hero in the movie version of every American tragedy. Snoop Dogg was put on trial for murder, and now he hosts a cooking show with Martha Stewart, who herself went to prison for conspiracy and lying to the FBI. Bill Clinton stuck a cigar in an intern, and he’s still giving keynote speeches for the DNC (as far as I understand it, the president holds more power than a comedy writer on Cedric The Entertainer Presents).
When you compare C.K. to these celebrities, masturbating in front of a couple of women in a hotel room doesn’t seem so bad. Rihanna didn’t have the option of walking back out to the hotel atrium when Chris Brown beat her.
But the problem for C.K. is that his behavior isn’t being examined objectively, it is being lumped in with Harvey Weinstein – who raped or harassed 50 women by threatening their careers. C.K. is also in the unfortunate company of Kevin Spacey, who appears to have spent the past thirty years rubbing every boy’s crotch like a Genie might pop out.
To Louie’s credit, it does seem that he has changed as there are no recent allegations. Unfortunately for him, the times have also changed. C.K.’s past transgressions are becoming public at a time when people are frustrated by their inability to take down Trump by repeatedly screaming that the president is a rapist.
C.K.’s wrong behavior came out at the wrong time. It’s hard to say what the right penalty should be for a man who asked for permission and then masturbated in front of women. But in 2017, C.K. is being forced to give up his career and go live on an island with Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey – even though they did very different things.