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Why SNL parting ways with Shane Gillis was more than a good look

SNL has nixed Shane Gillis from it’s cast after footage of him using racist and homophobic remarks on his podcast surfaced last week.

Gillis was one of three cast members recently added to ‘SNL’ which is set to begin its 45th season on September 28th but was officially fired Monday after the world caught wind of his comments in a now-viral video.

A spokesperson on the behalf of producer Lorne Michaels released a statement on their decision:

“After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL. We want SNL to have a variety of voices and points of view within the show, and we hired Shane on the strength of his talent as a comedian and his impressive audition for SNL,” the statement said.

“We were not aware of his prior remarks that have surfaced over the past few days. The language he used is offensive, hurtful and unacceptable. We are sorry that we did not see these clips earlier, and that our vetting process was not up to our standard.”

Gillis offered more than an apology but nonetheless it didn’t hide the fact that he is still on the hot seat. Last week he stated that he “missed” while trying to “push boundaries” in explaining the viral clip and after news broke that the wouldn’t be joining the new cast — which has it’s the first member of Asian descent in the show’s history, by the way — he called it “ridiculous” for him to even have to say anything at all.

While free-speech is indeed fundamental to democracy and comedians should have the liberty to touch on any topic, the public isn’t dumb and people can tell when something is a joke and when it’s clear hate speech.

There was no punch-line, there was no value to draw away from and no “boundaries” were being pushed. As Pablo Torre from ESPN’s High Noon tweeted, “he didn’t say anything different from what every Asian person in America has heard by the 6th grade. It was only a “risk” because you and your hack friend are dumb enough to record it.”

‘SNL’ firing Gillis isn’t an attack on comedy or speech but a stand for integrity. I’m sure Asian people don’t mind taking a joke. In fact, Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang, who is orchestrating a sit-down with Gillis, said that he “prefers comedy that makes people think and doesn’t take cheap shots.”

If ‘SNL’ played coy and pretended as if they couldn’t see that Gillis wasn’t joking and was just being flat-out racist, it would have emboldened others with hidden racist pasts to go for public positions and elevated platforms unafraid of repercussions.

A good joke is one that most people find funny and there weren’t a lot of supporters defending Gillis. Even if there were, chances are that they aren’t Asian.

SNL doesn’t always get it right but standing by their Asian cast-mate and firing Gillis was a proud moment in humanity. Be sure to catch the new season of SNL on NBC this Fall.