“Saturday Night Live” has long skirted the boundary of what is comedy and what is inappropriate, controversial and just downright not funny. Such was the case Nov. 1 when Chris Rock used the re-opening of the Freedom Tower and the Boston Marathon as the platform for his opening monologue, and drew a harsh rebuke from a 9-11 victim’s family member on Monday’s “Fox and Friends.”
Rock’s monologue opened with the controversial material saying, “They should change the name from the Freedom Tower to the “I’m never going in there tower” because I’m never going in there…does this building duck? What were they thinking?” Thinking he’s on a roll he finishes up the Freedom Tower part of his monologue by asking “And who is the corporate sponsor anyways? Target?” That drew a few isolated laughs, but most of the audience listened in silence.
On Nov. 3, FNC’s “Fox & Friends” hosted Joe Connor the cousin of a victim killed in the Twin Towers on 9/11. Connor hadn’t seen the “SNL” clip live. Co-host Brian Kilmeade asked, “Am I missing it or is that something we should not be kidding about?”
Connor, a self-professed fan of Chris Rock’s, replied that “I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I think humor is a good part of our society … But I think what he did is crossing over this line. He was making light of murder … My cousin Steve was killed that day.”
Connor was also incredulous that Rock said rebuilding the Freedom Tower where the Twin Towers once stood was nothing but arrogance on our part as Americans. Connor scoffed at that, arguing, “Is that what he’s saying? If you stand up to terrorists you’re being arrogant? We have such an upside down world if that's what he’s saying.”
Connor took exception to Rock’s cheap riff on the tower’s name. “It is a target here but we do it because we do what's right for our families and for the people who depend on us … He’s talking about the people who work now acting as if – he's not going to go in. You know what? He has that choice. They don't.”
The long-delayed opening of the Freedom Tower is an act of defiance and occasion for optimism and joy. It shouldn’t be an easy gag for a late-night laugh. As Joe Connor told “Fox & Friends,” “We’ve got to laugh but this was hurtful to me, firemen and the people who went in to rescue people, and what are they thinking right now?”