People were cheering last week when Saturday Night Live, announced three new cast members to the lineup of its upcoming season.
Among them was Bowen Yang, an SNL writer and the first East Asian-American cast member in the show's 40+ year run.
While they applauded Yang's achievement, the celebration was marred by the actions of another new SNL cast member: Shane Gillis.
Gillis referred to Asian-Americans as "f---ing ch--ks" and used homophobic slurs and other racist and misogynistic rhetoric in resurfaced clips from his podcast. Gillis made the remarks last year—2018.
In May of this year—2019, Gillis referred to 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang as a "Jew ch--k."
People immediately called for Gillis's removal from the SNL lineup. While his fate remained uncertain, Democratic candidate Andrew Yang offered Gillis a chance to discuss the remarks.
Yang reached out to Gillis via Twitter in response to an apology Gillis offered that many felt was lacking.
For the record, I do not think he should lose his job. We would benefit from being more forgiving rather than punitive. We are all human.— Andrew Yang (@Andrew Yang)1568481939.0
Andrew Yang elaborated on his experiences as an Asian-American in the United States.
I’ve been called chink and gook any number of times in my life. It can be extraordinarily hurtful to feel like you… https://t.co/u8kC7Qo7Oa— Andrew Yang (@Andrew Yang)1568522946.0
It’s also the case that anti-Asian racism is particularly virulent because it’s somehow considered more acceptable.… https://t.co/ySsjByDDux— Andrew Yang (@Andrew Yang)1568523122.0
But I took the time to watch and listen to Shane’s work. He does not strike me as malignant or evil. He strikes me… https://t.co/zxkqwotrgl— Andrew Yang (@Andrew Yang)1568523293.0
I think we have, as a society, become excessively punitive and vindictive concerning people’s statements and expres… https://t.co/spdwYfpPAv— Andrew Yang (@Andrew Yang)1568523704.0
I understand those who have another point of view on this. Obviously the folks at NBC are the real decision-makers.… https://t.co/msSpj1TkJN— Andrew Yang (@Andrew Yang)1568524126.0
Yang's stance for forgiveness struck a decidedly different tone than many of those who heard Gillis' repeated remarks.
And Gillis implied his use of racial and homophobic slurs and other forms of bigotry were "risks" intended to make him the best comedian he could be.
"My intention is never to hurt anyone but I am trying to be the best comedian I can be and sometimes that requires risks."
Because for White cisgender heterosexual men like Gillis, racism, homophobia and other forms of bigotry are their only ways to be funny? What was the message there?
Considering how recent the remarks were—and that Gillis made them repeatedly—it was hard for some people to justify rewarding him with one of the most sought-after jobs for any comedian: a weekly gig on Saturday Night Live.
@AndrewYang Shane calling you a chink on his podcast is beyond a cheap shot and no, you shouldn’t sit down and talk… https://t.co/VuIRPrWLK0— Eugene Gu, MD (@Eugene Gu, MD)1568476526.0
@AndrewYang Mr. Yang, it's not our job, or any Asian person's job, to 'sit down & talk' with racists while they're… https://t.co/7xieQkmklU— 👻🎃 Young 🕷️ Lee 🎃👻 (@👻🎃 Young 🕷️ Lee 🎃👻)1568481696.0
Bu others commended Yang for his willingness to take the higher road.
@AndrewYang This is an example of a LEADER, he is willing to sit down and talk to someone who called him a racial s… https://t.co/XG6AM3MS25— sean ranney (@sean ranney)1568475351.0
@AndrewYang I'm speechless, this is such an amazing response to a racist slur that was directed at you - especially… https://t.co/0FFiJsz54Q— Jacob (@Jacob)1568476330.0
@AndrewYang This is what a leader does. How can we begin to heal if there’s no grace left. Mercy is getting somet… https://t.co/NBrFrxM78W— isaaclar (@isaaclar)1568567195.0
Then, on Monday afternoon, Lorne Michaels and SNL issued an official statement.
Shane Gillis is out at SNL.
"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 comedian and his impressive audition for SNL."
"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."
In response, Gillis stated on Twitter he was good enough for SNL, but didn't want to be a distraction.
https://t.co/vN0htGMBVg— Shane Gillis (@Shane Gillis)1568664699.0
According to Yang, Gillis has since reached out to him about sitting down to talk following his departure from SNL.
Shane Gillis reached out. Looks like we will be sitting down together soon.— Andrew Yang (@Andrew Yang)1568669963.0
It's unclear yet when the meeting might take place, but hopefully it's a sign that Gillis is now truly remorseful and willing to learn from his past mistakes.
In addition to his candidacy, Andrew Yang is the author of several books. His latest, The War on Normal People: The Truth About America's Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future, is available here.