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Did Seinfeld’s Michael Richards cross a line from comedy to cruelty when he tried to handle a heckler by simply referring to the man by the N-word repeatedly? He ostensibly felt very comfortable venturing there, being a member of the white majority.

But how does society decide what is appropriate subject-matter for comics to explore on stage?

According to HBO’s Bill Maher, “Being able to say the worst thing is what America is all about,” while comedian Carlos Mencia says, “If you can’t tell the joke in front of the people it’s about, you don’t have a right to tell the joke.”



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