Fresh off the firestorm of controversy following Tracy Morgan's "joking" that he would stab any gay son he had to death, he's returned to stand-up. He briefly addressed his gay-bashing remarks during the performance and has seemed contrite since the incident; he met with gay youth who were homeless due to their sexuality, issued an apology, and returned to Tennessee to personally apologize to those he had offended during his homophobic rant. This all came on the heels of public condemnation from GLAAD, Tina Fey, and executives at NBC.
Yet his new show contained two notable examples of provocative, possibly offensive, language. Morgan joked:
Don’t ever mess with women who have retarded kids. Them young retarded males is strong. They’re strong like chimps.
He also ended the set with a joke about a young woman he purportedly dated during high school, a "cripple" with a prosthetic arm and mechanical larynx.
The outrage following Morgan's anti-gay remarks, and the objections that will surely follow these latest comments, raise interesting issues around comedy and political correctness. Is it appropriate to expect our comedians — the people we expect to expose absurdity and to sometimes shock us — to adhere to the same standards of "politeness" that we expect of our acquaintances? Is Tracy Morgan helping comedy by maintaining his trademark irreverence — is the fact that we're so uncomfortable with his jokes what actually defines them? — or is he just some idiot who got famous for spewing word vomit?