I finally got around to reading Michael Dolan's piece I was a Misogynist Comedian. I'm not even going to pretend that I'm not late to this party, such as it is. But the gist of the article, in case you haven't read it or don't feel like reading it now, is that as a part of his act Dolan told some jokes that elicited the M-word in response from a female reviewer, then a similar response from a female friend. Dolan now sees the insensitivity of the material, and is "no longer willing to defend it."
Now that we're all caught up, and so that we stay the same page, I don't necessarily intend to comment on Dolan's specific change of heart, or even on misogyny in comedy or Western culture in general. I want to look even broader.
In my mind the article raises the question: I wonder what happens now? On the one hand, the obvious answer is "not much." The way Dolan tells it, his audience wasn't big enough to have made the kind of splash that Michael Richards did a few years ago, or that Daniel Tosh did last year. There will be no public uproar, or televised apology. However, I'm curious whether the reviewer has seen Dolan's piece, and if she has what does she think about it? Is she willing to forgive him his then-cavalier attitude toward women?
I'm curious because -- whether she would phrase it this way or not -- this is what she wanted (or at least should have) when she wrote her review. Her words affected change in the heart of a comic so that he is no longer comfortable telling the jokes that she found reprehensible.
One of the problems with our culture is that even after a person turns from his wrongful behavior there is too often a desire to see the offending party continue to pay. We saw it in protests when Michael Vick was allowed to return to the NFL, even though he has gone on to actively oppose dogfighting. We are more interested in retribution than rehabilitation, and I don't understand that. He's one more person who's out of the dog fighting game, and if that isn't progress towards the goal of animal activist groups then what is?
We are too quick to judge each other and at the same time way too quick to say of ourselves, "but I'm a nice guy," or "I'm still a good person." But Dolan wouldn't have characterized himself as a misogynist. How many of us would stand up and say, "I try, but I know in reality that I'm not a good guy"?
The truth of the matter is that none of us is good. (Rom. 3:10-12) We all do wrong in the sight of a holy God, but it pleases him when we recognize that wrong, put it behind us and instead seek what is right. (Rom 3:23-26) Why can't we find that same delight?
People are fallible. We're going to continue to hurt each other, but rather than trying to assure the offended parties that we really are good people, I hope we practice turning from those damaging behaviors. And I really, really hope that Dolan's reviewer, Michael Vick's detractors, and humanity at large can come to find the joy in seeing our antagonists turn away from their wrongdoings.