Internet users ask the FBI to investigate George Lopez for a joke against Trump
In post-censorship times, a sense of humor comes at a high price. Are comedians the new victims of a witch-hunt?
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Social media became a tinderbox this weekend when, after the announcement of the killing of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, an Instagram user posted that the Iranian government had offered $80 million for Trump's head, to which Chicano comedian George Lopez jokingly responded, "We'll do it for half."
After his humorous lapse - nothing new considering Lopez is accustomed to criticizing Trump and his immigration policy through irony and jokes - Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, a conservative student association, wrote: "You ever hear of Democrat privilege? It means you can commit crimes without going to jail, like George Lopez threatening to assassinate the president. When Republicans do this, they go to prison."
He also asked people to retweet if they thought the FBI and Secret Service should arrest George Lopez for threatening to kill President Trump.
It didn't help that a spokesperson for Lopez said that it was only a joke. The response from right-wing Internet users was not long in coming, inspiring the viral hashtag #ArrestGeorgeLopez, as well as other comments even from comedians like the conservative Terrence K. Williams:
"We have a duty to report any threats or violence against the President, his family or anyone in his administration."
Meanwhile, Republican Congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna came out in force, declaring:
"For those saying that @georgelopez was only "joking" about assassinating @realDonaldTrump, do you actually believe this type of joke would have been okay in reference to either @BarackObama or @MichelleObama?"
However, Lopez also had numerous advocates, including lawyer and commentator Dean Obeidallah, who recalled that Ted Nugent made a similar comment about Obama and was invited to the White House by Trump.
The heated debate on networks fueled by portals such as Breitbart News is good proof of the ambiguity of political correctness and the dangers of post-censorship on the Internet.
Last summer, an internet video rekindled the controversy over freedom of expression in the UK. Scottish Youtuber Markus Meechan, known as Count Dankula, was charged with a hate crime for filming his girlfriend's pug doing the Nazi salute. The Supreme Court eventually overturned the conviction, but Meechan threatened to take the case to the International Court of Human Rights.
Recently, the biting Ricky Gervais, whose jokes feel like fisticuffs to some, was criticized last December as a transphobic after some of his jokes were taken out of context on the Internet.
Let the response of the slick Golden Globes presenter in a post serve as a summary of this new system:
Please stop saying "You can't joke about anything anymore". You can. You can joke about whatever the fuck you like. And some people won't like it and they will tell you they don't like it. And then it's up to you whether you give a fuck or not. And so on. It's a good system.— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) December 31, 2018
He also posted:
As you probably guessed, I’m not a religious person, but my favourite line in The Bible is “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” It basically means “Oh, shut the fuck up. You’re a cunt too sometimes.” Thanks Jesus.— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) December 31, 2018