Thank you so much for posting the first comment on this piece that actually grapples with the moral complexity of the situation. I think it’s better to ask and muse on these questions than it is to have definitive answers. It’s good to be comfortable with uncertainty. I think some people are so resistant to feeling unsure and complicated about these things that they lash out or distort reality in order to ignore them. It’s always brave to let oneself do the opposite.
Aziz Ansari is someone whose return to public life is somewhat redemptive, I think. He grapples with what he did to “Grace”, and openly expresses regret for harm that was done. When he brings it up on stage, it’s in a serious, respectful tone. In contrast, by all accounts Louis CK mines what he did (and the backlash he got) for laughs and outrage. His comedy has apparently taken a right wing turn ever since the accusations came to light — lots of jokes about oversensitive Millennials and the like — and while he does acknowledge what he did, he seems mostly just outraged at how much it’s cost him. He has responded with a lot of hostility and anger rather than remorse.
In truth, I can’t really stomach either Ansari or CK’s stand up anymore. I don’t want people who have done those kinds of things to occupy a lot of real estate in my mind. I’d much rather empower and financially support up and coming stand up comedians who are marginalized, and funny, and haven’t abused their power in these ways. Does that mean I think Ansari and CK should be tortured forever or cast off from society or locked up? No. But their success, when it happens now, puts a bad taste in my mouth. Granted one of them has handled his accusation very responsibly and the other has not (in my view), but it’s still unsettling and changes how I feel consuming their work, as a survivor myself. But all of that is descriptive rather than prescriptive.