Longtime co-host of the Opie And Anthony show (O&A), Anthony Cumia, was fired from Sirius XM radio following a racist Twitter rant. In his since-deleted (and far too vulgar to publish here) tweets, Cumia claimed that an African American woman attacked him in Times Square while he was taking photos, then launched into a tirade about how “blacks” are “savages.” Cumia has gone on racist rants on air before, so it’s not quite clear why this particular straw broke Sirius XM’s back. (Also, the quotation marks are because I’m using his terms, not my own, social justice warriors, so calm down and direct your anger appropriately.)
This led to a whole lot of controversy within the comedy community, with some people concerned about the safety of free speech. Here’s why those people are sort of dumb: The Constitutional right to freedom of speech is in regards to public speech. If you represent a private company, that’s negated in favor of their own rules, regulations, and guidelines.
As a comedian, I think you should be able to say whatever you want onstage as long as it gets a giggle. That said, what you write on Twitter, Facebook, or a public blog of any kind, if you are a public face of a corporation, represents that corporation, whether you like it or not. That’s why that one newscaster got fired, remember?
What’s more, what a comedian says in jest onstage or even on Twitter is clearly different from what a human being says in anger. Regardless of your profession, unless you’re a Klan leader, going on a public racist rant the way Anthony Cumia did will damage your brand. That’s what Sirius XM was worried about when they fired Cumia: tarnishing their brand, which is extended onto him. If you take nothing away from reading this blog except one thing, let it be to never post racist Tweets, Facebook statuses, or blog posts. Because no one likes a racist. Especially not an open one.