Comic Maeve Higgins to Shane Gillis: "Your words have consequences. Imagine!"

What Shane Gillis and his supporters seem to not understand is that free speech means others can respond to what you say in ways that might not make you happy.

From comic Maeve Higgins essay in The New York Times:

Comedy, like so many of our cultural institutions, remains dominated by men, usually straight and white men. I've seen countless versions of Shane Gillis and his material truly spread all over the world, and I'm not about to wrestle the mic from them. I have no problem with anybody speaking their piece, even when it's lazy and xenophobic. I'm not going to listen, but please, get that off your chest, son! If the most absorbing and insightful thing Mr. Gillis and his buddies have to sound off on is that they find Chinatown to be ugly, then by all means, go right on ahead.

The problem is when Mr. Gillis — and the others like him — frame their words as bold and boundary pushing and brave. What would really be shocking, what would really be exciting and edgy to watch, would be a person climbing down from their safe height and fighting the powerful in a situation where there's a chance they will lose more than a role on a show. I'm not saying comics need to get into fistfights. We're too out of shape and anxiety-ridden for that. But a little real bravery wouldn't hurt.

When anyone disagrees with something a comic says, or there are repercussions for their behavior, the comic too often seems genuinely shocked. Your words have consequences. Imagine! What these men need to learn is that just because you want a job on "Saturday Night Live" doesn't mean you deserve one.