"I'm not going to defend what he did or what he lost or what his punishment 'ought to be,'" the actor tweets, "I'm only saying that we're in uncharted waters."
Black's name has been quickly climbing the Twitter trends Tuesday since sharing an unpopular opinion on C.K. performing a 15-minute set at New York City's Comedy Cellar just 10 months after admitting to sexual misconduct. Last November, in a statement confirming allegations from five women, C.K. said he would "step back and take a long time to listen." But in the eyes of the majority roasting the disgraced comedian, it was not long enough.
"Will take heat for this, but people have to be allowed to serve their time and move on with their lives," Black tweeted. "I don't know if it's been long enough, or his career will recover, or if people will have him back, but I'm happy to see him try."
His statement resonated with many of his followers -- for all the wrong reasons.
In response to one critic, Black added, "I expect a lot of this, so I will say only that I'm not going to defend what he did or what he lost or what his punishment 'ought to be.' I'm only saying that we're in uncharted waters and we need to figure out how to move forward."
When a follower told Black she would demand her money back if she was at a show where C.K. performed unannounced, he said, "That would have been your right. I'm sure they would have refunded your money."
"I'll just make the point that, unlike other careers, when he does stand-up, Louis works for the audience. They will determine if he's welcome or not. And the answer may very well be that he's not," Black continued.
In an effort to clarify his thoughts, he tweeted out this statement.
"My empathy isn't for Louis. It's for the recognition that we're in a cultural moment in which some men who do terrible things have no pathway for redemption. That lack of a pathway creates a situation in which we are casting people out but not giving them a way back in," Black wrote. "The #metoo movement is incredibly powerful and important and vital. One next step, among many steps, has to be figuring out a way for the men who are caught up in it to find redemption."
That didn't go over particularly well, either. But to his credit, Black is trying to have a respectful conversation. In one thread, he admitted his position of privilege may be skewing his perspective.
"I don’t think you’re defending sexual assault. I DO think your position of privilege is leaving you a little shortsighted in this instance," tweeted entertainment journalist Cher Martinetti, and Black responded, "That might be true."
See the mix of thoughtful discussion and heated backlash that Black has ignited below.
I actually share this feeling, that at some point, we will have to navigate what reengaging looks like. But to me, the time to raise that issue is when someone has taken specific steps that we can point to that look like the beginning of a path. "Surprise!" is not a path.— Linda Holmes (@lindaholmes) August 28, 2018
A path is, "Here are the steps I took to make amends. Here is an apology that truly acknowledges the harm I caused. Here is me, opening myself to questions and challenges. Here are the sacrifices I'm willing to make." Not just "Did ya miss me?"— Linda Holmes (@lindaholmes) August 28, 2018
It's such a false choice, man. "No road to redemption" versus "Well, good to see him back in the saddle." So much is in between. The world is in between. All the work you do to get past your mistakes is in between. Your humanity, really, is in between. /fin— Linda Holmes (@lindaholmes) August 28, 2018
I think it's terrible that they gave him a standing ovation. And I'm not welcoming his return. I'm saying I'm happy to see him try because I think it's important to figure out how we move forward.— Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) August 28, 2018
I hear this. I don’t know how to answer; do I think that guy should be punished? Yes. Do I think there’s no way back for him? I don’t know. That is the issue for me. Is there a way back?— Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) August 28, 2018
I'm not seeking absolution, Talia. Nor did I defend him. I'm trying to have a conversation about what I see as an important aspect of a much bigger problem.— Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) August 28, 2018
Cool, your attitude is making it less safe for women comics to survive in their chosen field without being sexually assaulted and then lied about— Talia Lavin (@chick_in_kiev) August 28, 2018
Here is a great example of the power dynamic. As a comic, does begging to differ with a more established comic like Michael Ian Black where this might be the first way he learns your name, affect your rep? Is the fear or hesitation there? (1/x) https://t.co/c3U1NHBi9h— Michelle Biloon (@biloon) August 28, 2018
I had Michael Ian Black blocked so appparently I already knew he was trash. Today’s statements come as no surprise. Rich, white male defending the abusive behavior of another rich, white male. Day ending in Y. pic.twitter.com/Xx7S8T1Q2X— April (@ReignOfApril) August 28, 2018
Michael Ian Black, one of my favorite comedians, is defending a sexual harasser. He's happy he's back. I'm going to go cry now. https://t.co/tl5PdcZduo— jon rosenberg🥦 (@jonrosenberg) August 28, 2018
So in today’s news— Helen Noble (@BoobPunchTina) August 28, 2018
Michael Ian Black is an enabling asshole
American news media have learned nothing about breathlessly reporting polls and continue to do it
The president of the United States continues to be a petulant and unusually colored turnip
Well, I’m awake now
michael ian black's defense of Louis CK right now shows that men have more compassion for each other's embarrassment than they do for women who have been sexually assaulted— Aimée Lutkin (@alutkin) August 28, 2018
People like Michael Ian Black are not your friend. Amazing how sexual assault is suddenly nuanced when it's your mate trying to get back on the scene.— Pablo (@pablo_zsazsa) August 28, 2018
Michael, seriously, shutting up is free.— “Celia” (@_celia_bedelia_) August 28, 2018
There's zero evidence that Louis CK has done a goddamn thing to make good on the deep harm he caused yet we have celebrities out here bemoaning his "lack of pathway" back to the very industry where he caused that harm. STOP IT.— Shannon Coulter (@shannoncoulter) August 28, 2018
Michael Ian Black's timeline is the perfect example of someone who thinks they are smart and deep but is really just like every other suburban dad trash fire— Brent Hoover 🌹🇵🇭 (@mrbrenthoover) August 28, 2018
I'm so sick of men like Michael Ian Black worrying about the path back to redemption for abusive men. Where's the path back for their victims? Because their path back should be paved before the abusers— Stephanie Lucianovic 🐞💀📦🌼 (@grubreport) August 28, 2018
Feels sad to unfollow Michael Ian Black, whose comedy I admire, but his definition of “redemption” and his ideas about what #MeToo is and isn’t are toxic as hell.— Aubrey Hirsch (@aubreyhirsch) August 28, 2018
Michael Ian Black is demonstrating that although he knows women, he has never actually sought one’s perspective on sexual assault— Summertime Radness Li'l 🌳 (@karengeier) August 28, 2018