Not everything can be solved with cash

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2006

He cursed and used the ‘n’ word in responding to several blacks in the audience.

What he did was wrong; there is no argument. And he owes those people a huge and heartfelt apology.

He tried on the David Letterman show the other night, but it just didn’t seem genuine.

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Of course, because of his actions, his career is basically over. I can’t think of anybody who would hire him now.

His reputation will proceed him and make him a liability.

But here’s the part of this story I don’t get.

Two men who were in that audience that night were on the Today Show Wednesday. And they were upset and offended by what had happened. And they should be.

But along with them, Gloria Allred, a well-known attorney who handles some of the country’s high-profile cases, was also on the show, via satellite.

She said she was recommending that the people in the audience and Richards sit down with a third party, perhaps a retired judge, to work out their differences and to seek some kind of monetary compensation for what Richards did.

Look, I agree that Richards was wrong. And I agree that the people he offended deserve an apology. But that’s all.

While what Richards did was wrong, he had the right to say it. He just had to realize that whatever he said would come with consequences. And in this case, he tanked his own career.

He had a choice.

The people in the audience, who didn’t deserve to be called the names Richards used, also had choices.

They could have gotten up and left, demanded their money back and never patronized that comedy club again.

Some did just that, but not before firing back with some of their own comments for Richards.

This was an ugly scene all around. It should not have happened and should never happen again.

But why does Allred believe these audience members deserve money for what they experienced?

And just how much money should they receive? Is Richards responsible for it all, or should the comedy club that hired him pay their fair share?

There are times when suing somebody, or using an arbitrator to reach a compromise, are both good things.

But just because somebody says something that offends you cannot be one of those times. If that were the case, all of us could bring suit against somebody just about any day of the week.

I say Richards should put together a press conference, say what he has to say, and everybody go forward with their lives. Richards won’t have much of one on the big or little screens after this, but then he brought it on himself.

Grant is the managing editor of the Suffolk News-Herald. Contact him at