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Jay Greeson

It's official. Being offended now needs to be an Olympic sport.

We know this because the latest hubbub of inhumanity comes from, of all places, wait for it a comedy club.

Yes, the place where language knows no bounds. The place that through the years has been the home to Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy and George Carlin and so many others who have pushed every envelope to make people laugh.

A cellphone video surfaced earlier this week of George Lopez doing a comedy sketch, and the ramifications have set off reactions from outrage to disbelief. Lopez, who is at best a C-list celebrity, spent all of Wednesday trending on social media because of the backlash, nestled between Elizabeth Warren and #Wednesdaywisdom.

Performing in Phoenix last Sunday, Lopez started one of his bits with, "There's still two rules in the [expletive] Latino family. Don't marry someone black, and don't park in front of our house."

A black female took offense, stood up with a finger raised, and let's just say it was not the traditional No. 1 sign or a thumbs up.

Like most comedians when faced with a heckler, Lopez addressed the woman, calling her names and telling her to leave.

"You would be surprised how often it does occur," said Jerry Dipillo, manager at the Comedy Catch, the local comedy shop that has been hosting Chattanooga laughs for roughly three decades. "You will find the occasional thin-skinned person who is offended by the content of the comedy. You would assume that at a comedy club that all bets are off. But that's not necessarily the case."

A fixture on Brainerd Road for so many years, the Comedy Catch has enjoyed success in its new home behind the Choo Choo and closer to downtown.

And yes, the Comedy Catch, like so many clubs, has a "no filming" policy — a policy that comedians request almost universally, Dipillo said. The driving reason for the backlash is that the video of Lopez got to TMZ and has been viewed millions of times.

Hey, if you want to be upset, there are many things to get your long johns in a bunch.

Be mad that Lopez is making millions for being as entertaining as a tax seminar.

Be concerned that too many times the default place for entertainers — a group that has rallied against Trump for his statements about and actions toward women — is to use the B-word, be it comedy or music or whatever else.

And as all of those issues come together, know this:

We all must be concerned that the scrubbed and politically correct cleansing is now reaching a point where jokes are protesting points.

We've said this before, and there are few things in our Constitution we believe more: We all have freedom of speech, but that is not a freedom from responsibility.

The overreaction to things as trivial as George Lopez actually devalues protests over issues that should merit a real conversation.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6343.

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