After announcing that he was going to be the host of the 2019 Oscars, the well-known comedian Kevin Hart received so much criticism on past, homophobic tweets that he decided to decline the position.
With the explanation of why he was stepping down, Hart issued a formal apology to the LGBTQ community. Since this, Hart has been the center of much debate. One repeated point is that the world was a very different place 10 years ago in regards to the social treatment of the LGBTQ community.
An article on Hart could address freedom of speech, hate speech, what qualifies as making amends, how long people should be held accountable for their actions or a plethora of other topics which would evaluate if Hart deserves forgiveness or condemnation. However, I will not be discussing these issues. Instead, I would like to show how Hart’s situation is a result of moral relativism.
Comedy is frequently based on the taboo. Humans tend to find it humorous if the unspoken is indeed spoken. It is a matter of shock value. With that being said, if a comedian goes too far, they can sometimes lose their audience unless they can successfully turn the audiences’ offense into a joke as well. The question is, where is the line of “too far”?
This is a matter of moral relativism. We live in a society that has no firm basis for what is right and wrong. There is no clear code that we all adhere to that clarifies how we should treat people.
We can rarely choose a route that will make everyone happy. After all, Hart didn’t please his entire audience when he first made the remarks which is why he was pressured to change his comments and routine.
However, the general public was not extremely opposed to his remarks ten years ago. There were social media back then, albeit not as prevalent as today, and his comments did not produce such a stir. The factor that changed was people.
The majority that approved ten years ago is not the same majority now. With this logic, if the majority sets our moral standards, how is Hart accountable for his actions if he has pleased the majority as the majority has changed.
To clarify, I am not suggesting that Hart should not be accountable for his actions. What I am posing is that what is right has always been right and what is wrong has always been wrong. The U.S. has had a huge shift towards cultural sensitivity (of which I am a proponent) but when the sensitivity is subjective, we leave others precariously walking on eggshells. Majority rule is a dangerous and inefficient thing. From history, we know that what is generally socially acceptable has not always been what’s ethically right.
I implore each individual to find a solid basis for what they view is right and wrong. Personally, I use the Bible as my unchanging guide. Reading God’s Word has convicted me to treat others the way I would like to be treated (Matthew 7:12, ESV), reason with others with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15, ESV) and emulate Christ’s love towards everyone (John 13:15, ESV).
While I don’t always follow these rules perfectly, they are my unmoving foundation of how to treat others. I hope that each individual on campus finds an unmoving, backable set of standards so that we can gain clarity, move past the confusion of relativism and work towards loving one another more adequately.