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COLUMN: Giving Louis C.K. a second chance is a terrible joke

Comedian Louis C.K.

Does everyone deserve a second chance? 

Should men, like comedian Louis C.K., accused of sexual harassment, be allowed a chance to redeem themselves professionally and publicly?

You may remember about 10 months ago, C.K. was accused of exposing himself  to, and masturbating in front of, five women comedians. In a New York Times story, Dana Min Goodman, Julia Wolov, Abby Schachner, Rebecca Corry, and a woman who did not want to identify herself accused the comedian of sexual harassment.

They talked about how their experiences with Louis C.K. harmed then personally and professionally. Goodman and Wolov talked about how they faced a backlash from publicly speaking up about Louis C.K.’s behavior. They said they were also blacklisted from projects Louis C.K. or his manager, David Becky, were involved with in an effort to harm their careers. His terrible behavior toward women was an “open secret” in the comedy world and went unaddressed as his fame and fortune continued to grow.

Corry continued working with Louis C.K. because she did not want to be seen as someone who wouldn't work with one of the biggest names in comedy. 

Schachner received an apology from Louis C.K. six years after he harassed her, but she felt so discouraged and betrayed by his actions she stopped working in the entertainment industry. 

The unidentified woman said she felt threatened by Louis C.K. and went along with his requests to masturbate in front of her or that she would be fired from a comedy tour. She also left comedy.

After the New York Times story was published, Louis C.K. confessed. The 50-year-old father of two said the allegations were true and apologized in a public statement. 

Following the controversy, the company responsible for distributing his movie, “Daddy, I Love You,” cancelled its release. A planned stand-up tour was canceled. His talent agency dropped him. 

C.K.’s career seemed over. 

On Aug. 26, he stepped back into the spotlight. Louis C.K. performed an unscheduled 15-minute routine in a New York comedy club. He seems to be testing the waters for a comeback.

There’s a terrible irony to the fact that he appeared at the comedy club, without the audiences’ consent and performed a routine he forced them to watch. 

If you are one of the people thinking Louis C.K. deserves a second chance, you must first answer this for me: What was his punishment for serially harassing women during his career? What price has he paid?

Sure, he lost work and his reputation. Louis C.K. stand-up specials were pulled off HBO and Netflix, his movie was never released and he went away for a few months, but other than that, nothing really. 

Louis C.K. is still wealthy. Some people still want to see him perform as evidenced by the standing ovation he received after his 15-minute impromptu set and the reactions on social media. 

What C.K. went through pales in comparison to the damage his actions caused these women. 

All of the women he harassed and intimidated lost more financially and personally than Louis C.K. ever will.  

After they were blacklisted by the people protecting Louis C.K. – and who benefitted by the revenue he earned with his work – it’s impossible to calculate the damage done to them financially and the harm it caused their careers.

We’ll never know where they might be today it hadn’t been for C.K. We'll never know what great art they would have produced. We'll never know how many other women comedians they would have helped enter the industry.

The personal loss of these women is equally immeasurable. Since coming forward, Corry wrote, “...I’ve experienced vicious and swift backlash from women and men, in and out of the comedy community. I’ve received death threats, been berated, judged, ridiculed, dismissed, shamed, and attacked.” 

Louis C.K. is still harming these women. 

No amount of time he has spent out of the spotlight is long enough.

It’s time to give Louis C.K. a second chance?

You must be joking.