Editorial: Life's too short to stay offended

Nov. 12, 2013 @ 11:54 PM

At what point, as a society, did we decide that if we don't like an opinion someone expressed — or even a joke someone made  — then that individual should be scorned, fired or otherwise reprimanded?

Almost every day, it seems, new celebrities, athletes or public figures are being condemned for something they've said. Even the most predictable and mundane comments are held as examples of offenses that should get someone terminated – or hated. Someone's always out for a pound of flesh.

Whatever happened to the sticks-and-stones mantra we all learned as kids?

A perfect example arose in the past few days when protesters — some 1,500 of them — wanted comedian Jimmy Kimmel fired from his late night show over an unscripted, although taped, bit in which he sat at a table with 5- and 6-year-olds discussing the U.S. debt crisis.

Kimmel told the kids that the U.S. owed China $1.3 trillion dollars, and asked how we should pay it. He was obviously looking for outrageous answers — it's standard Kimmel, playing off kids' reactions to questions and situations for laughs.

He got the outrageous answer he was looking for, almost immediately.

"Kill everyone in China," a little blonde-haired boy answers, obviously making an attempt at a joke. Kimmel laughed it off, quickly turning to another child, who said we should build a big wall to block them out.

In all, the "offensive" part took about five or six seconds. Though Kimmel did return to the question later asking the kids — obviously making light of the earlier moment — if we should allow China to live. Thankfully, it seems, most believed we should.

Kimmel's already apologized, though no sane person could believe he agreed with the child's suggested solution.

What's amazing is that the bit aired almost a month ago, and the calls for Kimmel's job, as well as for more apologies, only seem to be getting louder.

It's ludicrous. 

The host — who didn't make the comment, didn't edit or produce the show and didn't give the final green light to the bit – is being made out to be sort of Hitler-ish by the protesters. (Just take a look at their signs, one of which read, "Fire Kimmel for promoting genocide.")

Even the White House condemned the sketch in an online statement Nov. 7.

Was the kid's comment inappropriate? Yes. Should the skit have been aired? Probably not. Does Jimmy Kimmel sanction genocide? No.

At some point, people have to learn to lighten up. Life's too short to spend every minute offended. There are many more things to be concerned about than a young child's unrehearsed and misguided attempt at humor an a grown-up comedy show.