On Monday, TMZ posted the above video taken by a bystander just moments after a semi hit a limo carrying Tracy Morgan and friends. In the clip, we see other motorists milling about before comedian Ardie Fuqua is pulled from the wreckage. Last night, Louis CK—an anti-censorship crusader—took to Twitter to implore TMZ to take the video down.
CK was spurred by Fuqua's daughter, who posted the following note to Instagram asking people to petition TMZ to remove the video.
CK took the lead in solicitng his 3.5 million followers to contact TMZ.
On the one hand this is CK doing a nice thing by helping out the daughter of a friend. But it undoubtedly puts him in a weird position, seeing as he has jumped to the defense of any comedian in recent years who has been on the receiving end of calls for censorship.
You may remember when none other than Tracy Morgan was forced to go on an apology tour after telling a joke in Nashville about stabbing his son if he found out he was gay. The comedian who was most vocal in his defense was Louis CK, who—like many stand-ups before him—argued that a comedy club is a sacred space where people should be able to indulge their darkest thoughts.
He further beat back the censorship of Morgan, and comedians in general, in an interview with Slate, saying:
I have to defend it, because if I was in his role, if I was in his situation, which I might be someday — which I already am for having said something on his behalf — I would want someone to step forward and say something. This is a freedom that I live off of.
He was even more explicit in 2007, back when his shock-jock friends Opie and Anthony were suspended from XM radio for bringing a homeless man onto their show who then joked about raping Condoleeza Rice and Laura Bush. The original blog post has been lost in the sands of the internet, but is preserved elsewhere. Here is CK on the topic of censorship specifically:
I have to say something about this because I think it is terrible, alarming and part of a trend of censorship which is the most dangerous thing to happen in America in a long time, in my view. I am blown away by how little outcry there has been over this especially among liberals, who are supposed to defend civil liberties, but seem only to do so when the rights of peole with their views are threatened. It makes me really really sick.
He has been clear on the topic of free speech (for comedians) countless times. CK was unwittingly dragged into the controversy surrounding Daniel Tosh's rape joke ("joke") and went on the Daily Show and said "any joke about anything bad is great." Louis CK thinks it's vitally important for comedians to be able to say what they want to say, even—or especially—if the targets of the joke are offended.
These are all broad free speech arguments, the same that one might make in defense of journalists, including those who work for TMZ. What CK said about Morgan the first time—"this is a freedom that I live off of"—is true not just for comedians, but also members of the press. Because Louis CK now finds himself on the other end of the equation, he has been blinded from what he believes to be a fundamental truth.