Will Smith’s slap of Chris Rock is the event of the present media cycle. It was a doozy too. The people are divided. Mine friends who have done stand up comedy look down on Smith. Other friends believe it was a gallant defense of the honor of his wife. Are you Team Rock or Team Smith?
The Slap Case
Mr. Smith’s action has the appearance of an heroic move. His wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, is insulted by Mr. Rock. Mr. Smith, taking up for his wife, slaps the offender. Would King Arthur have done any less?
The arguments are predictable. One of which discusses the slap as a prosecutor making a case. Let’s listen in on the Law & Order recreation.
The video shows Mr. Smith chuckling at the joke made about his wife. Realizing, however, his wife did not find it amusing, Mr. Smith then acts against Mr. Rock. There was no passion in the act. Mr. Smith was in complete control of himself and therefore…
What is overlooked by almost everyone is, it should never be acceptable for one human being to strike another. “But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek turn the other also.” (Matthew 5:39)
The Myth At Play
Looking back on our tongue in cheek (pun intended) prosecution of the case, we should consider the fact that Mr. Smith was trying to save face by assaulting the face of someone else. He was using violence as a means of redemption. The slap was for an insult. The honor of his wife needed to be upheld. The act of violence was more serious than the insult. Too bad Mr. Smith made matters worse. If he had kept his seat, no one today would remember the insult.
My friends who do stand up comedy are not amused, either. They do not wish for an offended person to believe it is proper behavior to slap them when they cross someone else’s line. What if a comic makes a remark you do not like about a political figure? Can you choose smashing them in the mouth for your guy?
Oh, that’s right. We had four years of a celebrity-turned-President encouraging such actions. My thoughts now drift to another comedian.
When Countries Slap
Volodymyr Zelensky is a celebrity-turned-President who is now an international hero. Why? Because he is fighting back against a large aggressor. He is cast as David before Goliath. Should he not slap back? Good question.
Orthodox Christianity holds the position that “war is always wrong.” My own United Methodist denomination holds war is incompatible with Christian teaching. But such statements are only said in a loud whisper. It is hard to go against the national propaganda machine.
The war between Russia and Ukraine is drenched in media “coverage.” The horrible pictures elicit anger and outrage from us. But few of us are asking about the reality. The reason, I think, is that we forget all of the fawning images before of Vladimir Putin. The KGB agent-turned-President was once a darling of Western media cast beside the image of a drunken Boris Yeltsin. Putin was strong, healthy, and younger than any Russian leader in recent memory. He was one of the “good guys.”
A few – very few- church leaders may claim to support their governments taking aggressive actions. But, the majority of church people and leaders wish to help those who suffer from the actions. Our acts of redemption are those that try to alleviate suffering, feeding the destitute, and providing care.
“Look for the helpers.” People fully committed to violence will not be stopped. For those not so committed, offering another way will help. The question is a simple one to answer. Are we going to help by finding ways around violence? Debating justifications will only lead to more violence. I am walking away from those discussions to look for new ones.