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The ethics of comedy

It's an old interview, but a timeless observation. At least Randy Cohen (writer of the New York Times Magazine's "Ethicist" column) got something right:

"We [comedy] writers were always meant to understand that there were certain ways of doing things," explains Cohen. "You don't attack people for what they are, you only attack people for what they do. Which is to say you shouldn't make fun of someone for having a goofy looking nose, because they have no control over that. But you can make fun of them for invading Cambodia, because that's something they choose to do, its volitional."

Not that reading the rest of this article really convinced me Cohen, a former writer for David Letterman, is all that trustworthy as an ethicist, however. (Alas.) But it was interesting to read.

April 8, 2002 11:44 PM

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Copyright ©2001-2003 Matt Pfeffer

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