“Saturday Night Live” recently introduced three new cast members, including Shane Gillis, a comedian who uses racial slurs and has created racially insensitive content. In a podcast episode that has since been deleted, Gillis is heard mocking Chinatown and Asians.
Warning: this video contains expletives.
today SNL announced the hiring of its first cast member of East Asian descent, and also this guy pic.twitter.com/0FAGJZJUkK
— Seth Simons (@sasimons) September 12, 2019
Gillis attempted to apologize for this in a tweet that said:
I’m a comedian who pushes boundaries. I sometimes miss. If you go through my 10 years of comedy, most of it bad, you’re going to find a lot of bad misses. I’m happy to apologize to anyone who’s actually offended by anything I’ve said. My intention is never to hurt anyone but I am trying to be the best comedian I can be and sometimes that requires risks.
2020 Democratic candidate and entrepreneur Andrew Yang responded to Gillis. Yang is Taiwanese-American and found the resurfaced podcast episode offensive.
“Shane – I prefer comedy that makes people think and doesn’t take cheap shots. But I’m happy to sit down and talk with you if you’d like,” Yang responded to Gillis.
Shane – I prefer comedy that makes people think and doesn’t take cheap shots. But I’m happy to sit down and talk with you if you’d like. https://t.co/YxbzQ5WVLX
— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) September 14, 2019
Yang responded, however, by promoting a message of forgiveness over calling for punishment. Yang appeared on CNN with Jake Tapper where he said the tweets were racist, but that he is upset with how punitive the country has become.
“I believe that our country has become excessively punitive and vindictive about remarks that people find offensive or racist and that we need to try and move beyond that if we can,” Yang said.
Andrew Yang: "I believe that our country has become excessively punitive and vindictive about remarks that people find offensive or racist and that we need to try and move beyond that if we can." https://t.co/4r3DEn4yjv pic.twitter.com/5nYzMb8OMJ
— The Hill (@thehill) September 15, 2019
Yang took to Twitter to elaborate his thoughts even more. He said he does not believe Gillis should lose his job. Instead, he calls him a “still-forming comedian.”
“For the record, I do not think [Gillis] should lose his job. We would benefit from being more forgiving rather than punitive. We are all human,” Yang tweeted.
I’ve been called chink and gook any number of times in my life. It can be extraordinarily hurtful to feel like you are somehow not part of the only country you have ever known. I have certainly felt that – the churning sense of alienation, anger and marginalization.
— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) September 15, 2019
He continued in a long-form tweet thread that read:
I’ve been called c***k and g**k any number of times in my life. It can be extraordinarily hurtful to feel like you are somehow not part of the only country you have ever know. I have certainly felt that – the churning sense of alienation, anger and marginalization.
It’s also the case that anti-Asian racism is particularly virulent because it’s somehow considered more acceptable. If Shane had used the n word the treatment would likely be immediate and clear.
But I took the time to watch and listen to Shane’s work. He does not strike me as malignant or evil. He strikes me as a still-forming comedian from central Pennsylvania who made some terrible and insensitive jokes and comments.
I think we have, as a society, become excessively punitive and vindictive concerning people’s statements and expressions we disagree with or find offensive. I don’t think people should be losing jobs unless it’s truly beyond the pale and egregious.
I understand those who have another point of view on this. Obviously the folks at NBC are the real decision-makers. But if I can forgive Shane, as the guy he called a slur, I hope others can as well. I also hope Shane is open to learning. We are all human, we’re all fallible.
From Sarah Silverman to Dave Chapelle and political cartoons, it seems the far-left is quick to cancel anyone who says things they suddenly decide gives them social or political leverage. This time, it was refreshing to see a 2020 Democratic candidate calling for forgiveness instead of cancellation.
Yang has been a dark horse candidate. He came into the race pretty unknown and polling at 0.8 percent. Now, Yang is polling higher than Sen. Cory Booker. Yang is polling at 3 percent while Booker trails at 2.3 percent.
The way Yang handled this situation may be exactly what is growing his support. Yang’s words of unity over the other candidates pandering to identity politics may be helping the rise of the #YangGang.