I’ve never been a fan of the supposedly beloved Cosmo Kramer. In one of the most memorable episodes of the hit sitcom Seinfeld, Kramer tells Jerry, “You're a rabid anti-dentite! Oh, it starts with a few jokes and some slurs. "Hey, denty!" Next thing you know you're saying they should have their own schools.”
There’s the old saying, many a true word is spoken in jest.
In the case of Michael Richards, the actor who played Kramer on Seinfeld, and whom another Seinfeld character, Elaine, described as “a tall, lanky doofus with a birdface and hair like the Bride of Frankenstein," the truth is as ugly as Elaine’s description.
After being heckled doing a stand-up comedy routine at The Laugh Factory, Richards launched into a racist tirade, calling the men who interrupted him niggers, not once, not twice but over and over again. Among the many gems, “Fifty years ago, we’d have had you upside down with a fucking fork up your ass.”
All hell broke loose following this mini-Mel Gibson episode (given Richards’ limited appeal and success) culminating in a tortured apology on the David Letterman show in which Richards revealed himself to be not only a racist, but an inarticulate moron.
As yet, the only one positive thing Richards has done – or not done – is blame the episode on alcohol.
When will these people learn? We all have our prejudices, be they learned or innate, which surface in any kind of incident, from road-rage to alcohol binges, but education, common decency, consciousness and social awareness enable us to overcome them.
Mel Gibson claims he’s not anti-Semitic and Michael Richards claims he is not racist, vivid evidence to the contrary in both cases. The only way to actually overcome prejudice is to acknowledge its existence for starters.