On the same day that hundreds gathered to memorialize the six Sikh worshippers gunned down at a temple in Milwaukee, satirical news site The Onion ran a headline joke that could be regarded as so too soon you'd need a time machine to even get to it.
The Onion's featured story on Friday paired a photo of a mournful Christian Bale, taken from his visit with the victims of the Aurora, Colorado shooting, with the headline, "Christian Bale Visits Sikh Temple Victims."
While clearly satirizing the cultural importance of celebrities and not those who were killed or injured, the article's timing -- not even a week after the tragedy and on the day the victims were buried -- could strike readers as a little too glib.
The Onion is no stranger to controversy, especially recently. The paper made headlines just last weekend for a joke that showed a plane flying into Chicago's Willis Tower. The unmistakable 9/11 imagery caused a flurry of criticism, to which Editor Will Tracy gave The Huffington Post this tongue-in-cheek response:
The Onion is not in the business of ignoring newsworthy stories simply because they shock or horrify the teeming masses. If anyone wants to point a finger, they should point it at the hard-line, fundamentalist wing of the Sears Corporation for committing this heinous act.
A lightening rod for both controversy and confusion, The Onion has always addressed sensitive issues with its specific brand of satire. It's famous September 26, 2001 issue created a catharsis felt the world over, with headlines like, "God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule," and "Hijackers Surprised To Find Selves In Hell."
So where does this latest headline land? According to one of The Onion's Twitter followers, the gag was "Stupid, racist, cruel and not funny." At last count, however, the tweet linking to the article had 251 retweets and 72 favorites.
Take a look at The Onion article here and weigh in with our poll.
An angry audience member reported on Facebook that Tracy Morgan went on a tirade during a stand-up show allegedly saying that gay was a choice and that he would stab his son if he found out he was gay. Morgan's comments sparked a huge debate about going too far in comedy. Morgan later apologized saying <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/10/tracy-morgans-homophobic-remarks_n_874699.html" target="_hplink">"While I am an equal opportunity jokester, and my friends know what is in my heart, even in a comedy club this clearly went too far and was not funny in any context."</a>
Michael Richards berated an audience member in 2006 repeatedly calling him "nigger" and saying "50 years ago we'd have you hanging upside down with a fucking fork up your ass." Richards later apologized but the incident prompted the Laugh Factory to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2006/11/20/kramer-actor-to-be-banned_n_34539.html" target="_hplink">ban the comedian</a>.
A Tumblr post titled "A Girl Walks Into A Comedy Club" described an incident wherein Daniel Tosh allegedly teased an audience member saying, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/10/daniel-tosh-rape-joke-laugh-factory_n_1662882.html" target="_hplink">''Wouldn't it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now?" </a>Tosh later apologized on Twitter for the remark.
During the 2011 Roast of Charlie Sheen, Schumer joked about Steve-O's recently deceased friend Ryan Dunn saying, "I know you must have been thinking, 'It could have been me,' and I know we were all thinking, 'Why wasn't it?'" After the Roast, Steve-O said that Jeffrey Ross texted him and asked him to tell his fans that Steve-O was fine with Schumer, because she was receiving death threats. Schumer has stood by not apologizing for the comment.
Comedians often cite George Carlin as one of their biggest inspirations. Carlin broke barriers and sparked debates with his "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television" bit. When "Filthy Words" aired on a radio station, a father heard it with his son and complained to the FCC. This lead to the Supreme Court case of the FCC vs. Pacifica Foundation which held that it was within the first amendment to censor certain material.
Roseanne memorably butchered the national anthem at a 1990 San Diego Padres game, seemingly making a joke out of the performance. President George Bush senior called the performance "a disgrace." In 2011, on her reality show "Roseanne's Nuts," Barr sang the anthem again, better this time.
During a 1964 performance on "The Ed Sullivan Show," Jackie Mason was a bit perturbed when Sullivan tried to signal for him to wrap it up (President Johnson was about to give a speech). Mason started making movements with his fingers, mocking Sullivan. After the show, Sullivan banned Mason from future performances alleging that Mason gave him "the finger." Mason filed a libel suit and in the end a court proved that Mason had, in fact, not given the finger.
Ricky Gervais made headlines after his 2011 Golden Globes hosting gig for his colorful performance. In his opening monologue he joked, "Also not nominated 'I Love You Phillip Morris.' Jim Carrey Ewan McGregor, two heterosexual actors pretending to be gay. So the exact opposite of some famous scientologists then." The Hollywood Foreign Press released a statement saying that he did a nice job but that he <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/17/ricky-gervais-golden-globe-host-doesnt-care-if-anyone-was-offended-by-jokes_n_809967.html" target="_hplink">"...occasionally went too far."</a> They still asked him back for a second hosting gig.
Police arrested Lenny Bruce for obscenity in 1961 for his use of the word "cocksucker." Eventually he was acquitted.
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In 2008, several reports surfaced that Sandra Bernhard had made a joke in her one woman show that Sarah Palin would be "gang-raped by my big black brothers" in New York City. Because of her comments, Bernhard<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/01/sandra-bernhard-cut-from_n_131091.html" target="_hplink"> was cut as a headliner</a> at an annual benefit at a woman's shelter. The twist? Bernhard later denied that she said any such thing, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/02/sandra-bernhard-denies-re_n_131326.html" target="_hplink">assuring that it was just an internet rumor that got out of hand</a>. She donated money to the woman's shelter, Rosie's House, instead of performing.
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