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Why Is Janeane Garofalo Defending Louis C.K.?

Janeane Garofalo in Wet Hot American Summer

Louis C.K. keeps digging himself into deeper holes, as do those who insist on defending him. Rob Schnieder recently defended C.K., and now Janeane Garofalo has ridden to C.K.’s defense with an impassioned and deeply flawed take on the whole situation.

Garofalo said in an episode of the podcast Poptarts, as reported by Vulture:

“When it comes to the #MeToo movement, I think it’s okay to question the source. It should transcend gender. It’s human rights. Cause if you don’t, anyone can be accused of anything at any time. And if you’re not allowed to question that—I can say right now ‘I’ve got pictures of you molesting a child. Don’t question me!’ You know what I mean? Don’t question the questioner! Then it’s a Twilight Zone episode. And I think in any movement, for human rights, you’ve got to transcend gender, and you’ve got to consider who’s making the accusation and why and when, because it matters.”

She added, on the subject of C.K.:

“Leave Louis C.K. alone. Enough with that. And again, there are so many issues we gotta be motivated on. He’s been my friend—and I stand by that—he’s been my friend since 1985, and I think he has suffered. And when he performs at the Comedy Cellar and people get all irate, if nothing else, care about his daughters. If nothing else—if you can find no compassion for him, which I think you should—think about how his daughters, who hear all of this stuff, feel. Why don’t you leave him alone for them if you’re so women-empowering?”

The hosts of the podcast disagreed with her, and a tense exchange followed in which the hosts repeatedly tried get her to think about what she was saying, including bringing up C.K. exposing himself to female comedians. Garofalo denied that that had happened, and said people were kicking C.K. when he was down. Garofalo rightly said vitriol would be aimed at her for saying this but continued to double down on her stance with regards to C.K., even going as far to say as people reacted like “Mussolini” had walked in the room during C.K.’s surprise sets.

I’m glad the hosts challenged her on it, and I hope that, as more people do so, she’ll listen and come around. More women, and also men, are making accusations in the #MeToo era because it is now a time in which people feel far safer coming forward. It is not, as some posit, a witch hunt. It is a moment in time in which powerful men are mostly being held accountable for their actions (or at least, are suffering vague consequences before bouncing back immediately). People feel comfortable addressing their pain because there is support.

C.K. admitted to exposing himself to women. There is no “alleged” attached to his actions; he has openly admitted to them. He has made jokes that are incredibly inappropriate, including joking about the Parkland shooting survivors. He has gone from liberal comedian bro to, well, being red-pilled now that his actions have caught up to him. There is no real defense for his actions.

Yet, Garofalo is insisting that we forgive and move past this. We are to think of C.K.’s daughters, we compassionless bastards who are holding him accountable for his actions. I’m sure that hearing this about someone you love is hard, and I have empathy for his children. I also have empathy for the women who C.K. harassed and made uncomfortable, and for the targets of his jokes. C.K. having daughters does not absolve him of anything.

People are allowed to hold C.K.’s actions and words against him. It is not a question of compassion but accountability. Garofalo is not required to come out against her friend, but her lack of compassion for those affected by C.K. is also noticeable. Compassion shouldn’t just apply to people we know, but to the people harmed by those we thought we knew, as well. Garofalo should understand that.

(via Vulture, image: Netflix)

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Kate (she/her) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions she has. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, she is now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for her favorite rare pairs.