A Saturday Night Live writer named Katie Rich was suspended indefinitely for tweeting a joke that referred to Barron Trump, the 10-year-old son of President (as much as that hurts to type) Donald Trump.
The joke in question, which has since been deleted, read, “Barron will be this country’s first homeschool shooter.”
I have a few problems with this entire scenario. Let’s go through them all:
- Comedy is subjective. There are plenty of people who probably found this funny, and a lot of people interpreted it differently: I read it as a statement on how insufferable his father is, someone else thought it was a commentary on gun violence, another on home schooling, another on the stereotypical rich white kid. However, others took it to be a jab at Barron’s alleged autism, which would be ableist. Unfortunately, no matter what Rich says, if you believe that, she won’t change your mind.
- Comedy is a game of trial and error. I know as much as anyone that not every joke is going to land. It’s a risk that comes with her job, and Saturday Night Live producers and executives should know that better than anyone else.
- In most cases, getting someone fired over social media misfires is stupid. A waitress at an Applebee’s three states away who griped on her own Facebook page about how certain demographics tip better than others likely has no bearing whatsoever on your life. A comedian tweeting a joke that didn’t hit probably didn’t actually ruin your day, and that’s part of their job—social media is often a place to test out material, and if it gets a good reaction, comics may use it later on. If we’re really going to get Fascist enough to get riled up over Twitter, we should start with the President and other idiots in public office before we get mad at court jesters.
- Barron is a child who didn’t choose his parents. That’s the reason why even some comics are side-eyeing this incident. Most of us didn’t go after Sasha or Malia Obama. (Those who did, well, I’ll prey for them, and no, that’s not a misuse of a homophone.)
- She apologized. Why isn’t that enough? There are some on-air personalities on Saturday Night Live who have said and tweeted much worse without any repercussions or remorse. Why make an example out of Katie Rich? (Hint: She went after someone with ties to NBC. Remember the original host of The Apprentice?)