It started with James Gunn. Conservative personalities Jack Posobiec and Mike Cernovich unearthed a series of troubling tweets from several years ago that included homophobic and rape- and pedophilia-related jokes, resulting in Disney firing Gunn as the writer/director of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. Days later, Rick and Morty creator Dan Harmon decided to delete his Twitter account after a 2009 skit resurfaced showing him mimicking sexual assault with a baby doll. Earlier Thursday we reported that Rian Johnson, aware trolls were now scouring the Twitter histories of several comedians and directors, preemptively deleted 20,000 tweets even while claiming he hadn’t tweeted anything “that bad.”
Now there’s Sarah Silverman, who is receiving blowback as a result of a tweet from 2009 that makes the following joke: “Hey, is it considered molestation if the child makes the first move? I’m gonna need a quick answer on this.” Silverman built her career on a particular brand of raunchy comedy, but this is a step too far for some.
Hey, is it considered molestation if the child makes the first move? I'm gonna need a quick answer on this.— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) July 7, 2009
CNN reports that Townhall, a conservative news outlet, brought the attention back to the tweet after it published an article that highlighted Silverman’s role as a Disney voice actress and included “molesting children” in the headline. The article also noted an exchange from 2017, when a user asked Silverman if the joke was “supposed to be funny.” She replied by saying, “comedy is subjective,” adding that she thought it was funny when she tweeted it eight years prior. Townhall found two more pedophilia-related tweets Silverman wrote in 2011 and '15.
AOL puts Sandusky news on their sports page. Molestation is physical but it's not technically a sport is it?— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) December 16, 2011
On Thursday, Silverman responded to the backlash. "Some very odd people are saying I'm a pedo, re: a joke from a time not that long ago when hard absurd jokes by comedians were acknowledged for what they were—jokes—not a disingenuous national threat to people fake-clutching their pearls (whilst ranting the country's too PC)," she wrote in a tweet.
Some very odd people R saying I’m a pedo, re: a joke from a time not that long ago when hard absurd jokes by comedians were acknowledged for what they were — jokes — not a disengenuous national threat to people fake-clutching their pearls (whilst ranting the country’s too PC)— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) July 26, 2018
Some celebrities have come out to defend Gunn, using a similar version of the argument Silverman is making, which revolves around talking about problematic issues like pedophilia when they are presented as jokes. It's more important, the argument goes, to denounce the more offensive political opinions many people hold today, since they have real world consequences when they align with the current president's views. As Silverman argues, the same people who claim they hate “PC culture” are the ones trying to destroy the careers of people who have different ideological and political views.
In fact, one theory for why it was the Trump-supporting Posobiec and Cernovich who initially found Gunn’s tweets is that the director is a staunch Trump critic, as is Silverman. When it comes to Harmon, CNN reports the offensive skit was initially posted on 4chan, and one person commented: "If they get to take scalps for someone making racist jokes, we get to take scalps for them making pedophilia jokes.” It appears the “racist jokes” the commenter is referring to are the ones made by Trump supporter Roseanne Barr, who lost her show at ABC as a result.