Yesterday morning Jordan Sargent at Gawker posted TMZ's video of the aftermath of the car crash that killed one man and injured four others including comedian Tracy Morgan. Sargent supposedly posted the video because Louis CK is asking people to not watch the video. The daughter of the man who died in the crash is upset about the video, which apparently shows him being dragged out of the wreckage, and CK has taken to Twitter about it:
Please don't go to TMZ to watch the video. Please ask them to take it down. @TMZ
— Louis C.K. (@louisck) June 12, 2014
On the one hand this is CK doing a nice thing by helping out the daughter of a friend. But it undoubtedly puts him in a weird position, seeing as he has jumped to the defense of any comedian in recent years who has been on the receiving end of calls for censorship.
You may remember when none other than Tracy Morgan was forced to go on an apology tour after telling a joke in Nashville about stabbing his son if he found out he was gay. The comedian who was most vocal in his defense was Louis CK, who—like many stand-ups before him—argued that a comedy club is a sacred space where people should be able to indulge their darkest thoughts.
Uh, nice try, I guess, but this isn't censorship. This is a celebrity fighting back against a site that preys on celebrity culture. A gory video isn't the same thing as a tasteless joke. Journalism isn't the same thing as comedy. This is the mother of all false equivalencies. Someone died, and inviting people to view amateur footage of the aftermath of the incident that killed the man is just ghoulish.
The headline of Sargent's post—"The Video of Tracy Morgan's Crash that Louis CK Doesn't Want You to See"—identifies the purpose of the video: It's just to score some fucking clicks on the internet. Watching the video doesn't add to anyone's understanding of the car accident. It doesn't provide additional information that the public needs to know. I'm not against journalists posting gory photos and videos in general. I don't think newspapers and news sites should be in the business of worrying about offending someone's sensibilities. But, say, publishing a photograph of a war crime so that people in other parts of the world understand the severity of the situation is different than running a video of a car crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. We all know what car crashes look like, and TMZ wouldn't give a fuck about this video if a famous person wasn't involved. Watching mangled bodies being pulled out of wrecked cars solely because the situation tangentially involves celebrity is just about the creepiest thing I can think of.