Can a man who owns a kitten this cute really be that evil?
I awoke today to some news that, as a fan of both comedy radio and the freedom of speech ostensibly afforded us as Americans, really broke my heart: SiriusXM fired Anthony Cumia of Opie & Anthony fame after he was physically assaulted on Wednesday by a woman who was unhappy with him snapping her photo on the street.
Allow me to elaborate: Anthony was snapping photos on an NYC street during the evening. He was taking photos of people out in the city during the evening and photographed a woman walking under some scaffolding. The woman, who happened to be black, objected to this and confronted Anthony. Knowing what little I can about Anthony’s personality by listening to Opie & Anthony heavily, I’m guessing he stated that it was his right to photograph anyone he could on a street, even if they didn’t wish to be photographed.
The confrontation turned physical as the woman called Anthony a “white motherfucker” and struck his face several times. Cumia, a legal gun carrier, chose to not pull his weapon as, in his words, he “never felt his life was in danger,” nor did he otherwise physically attack the woman. A few surrounding men, who also happened to be black, apparently got into a verbal altercation with him. Everyone then left the scene without further physical escalation. This was the end as I understand it of the altercation.
Cumia has long used his Twitter account to speak about what he perceives as a disproportionate amount of violence in the black community, and has delved into other racially charged topics for the tenure of his time on the social media service. He does not do this as a man possessed of altruistic intent, and I would be lying if I stated that Anthony’s focus on on race and crime, however facts-and-figures-based it may be, didn’t strike me as somewhat off-putting. But it’s his freedom under the First Amendment to do exactly that, and I never once found him to do anything other than present beliefs based upon far more research than most of us present when making an argument.
So, to those of us familiar with Anthony and his Twitter account, it came as no surprise that, when reported the incident, he referred to the woman using words like “savage” and “cunt” and made several statements to the effect of “Well, I’ve always said things quickly escalate in the black community to violence, and now it’s happened to me.” The website Gawker picked up on the Tweets and immediately focused on the “racist rant” of the radio host. Several newspapers then ran with Gawker’s take on the story as if these were the first words ever spoken by Cumia to this effect, and things culminated on Friday, July 4th with Cumia’s termination from SiriusXM.
Seemingly lost in all of this is the fact that Mr. Cumia did nothing illegal and was the one physically assaulted. It would appear that those expressing outrage at his words either don’t care or, dare I say, feel as if here was asking for this outcome based upon his beliefs. And that’s a scary thing. If Ann Coulter (who I’m no fan of politically) were raped by a black man, then took to Twitter after the fact to express that she was raped by a “savage” and posted statistics about black-on-white rapes, does that make her rape less worthy of condemnation? Is it okay that she was raped because she chose to comment upon her attacker’s race rather than sit stoically in her victimhood? Even the most liberal among us would say no. So why is Anthony’s case any different?
The interesting thing is several people will learn of this incident and think, “Good, that racist pig got what was coming to him.” And maybe Anthony Cumia is both a racist and a pig. I cannot speak for what lives in the man’s heart. But why are we so hellbent lately on living in a society where people’s words, no matter how long ago they were spoken (Paula Deen) or originating in a fit of anger they were (Alec Baldwin, Jonah Hill) lead to their livelihoods being lost as we demand they repent before us on bent knee for these “unforgivable” transgressions? Are we so weak that words not spoken directly to us actually wound us? Are we so small that we feel entitled to an apology from someone we’ve never met? And are we so without sin that we can so readily sit in judgment of our fellow man? I think we know the answer in our hearts.