A Joke Is Never Just A Joke - My Apology To Those I've Offended

To begin - I apologize. Again. 

I posted an apology shortly after posting the tweet/facebook status and on the recommendation of many, I gave a larger context for the apology - explaining why I apologized to those that might not understand the apology to the full extent.

I did not erase the offending tweet/status update as it had already caught traction & many people had seen it & commented on it. I left it up, with my apologies & explanation posted for all to see so that they could understand the full story.

I left this post up to be accountable.

Let me be clear, "any hateful, disparaging, misogynist, racist or discriminatory language in any context should not be tolerated and should be called out at ANY time no matter who the offender." 

I'm on the record for having called out comics that hide behind the, "comedy is art therefore I can do what I want," line of thinking before. I've NEVER uttered this thought and I certainly never did here. Normalizing violent language contributes to violence on the ground & in the community. Normalizing violent language contributes to violence against our women, children, Two Spirits & the LGBTQ community throughout our communities. This is not okay.

The comments I made were not at all acceptable. I understand how the comment I made can be interpreted as offensive. In 15 years as a performer there have been 3 instances that I've made mistakes, bad choices in judgement in the words I've used in comedy & have crossed the line. I've been accountable each & every time.

This instance is no different.

I am sorry.

It is never okay to perpetuate violence in any context.

The unpacking of colonization, patriarchy & the resulting misogyny of both is integral to the rebuilding of the foundations of our communities. 

What Happened

The offending tweet should have never been posted.

The line itself is not a piece of my comedy. If you've seen my comedy - you'd know this. My comedy does ride a line. It always has and probably always will. I live on that line. That line is my personal experience. It's my politics. It's my point of view. It's how I experience the world. I am angry about a lot of things. The best way I wrangle that anger & work with it is through my art.

The offending tweet is NOT representative of my body of work.

I woke up, saw a media story about Ted Nugent's remarks towards Native People claiming, "Native People are unclean vermin that don't deserve to be treated as humans..."

My offending tweet was born from a premise, a loose premise, an idea I've been playing with in the new hour of comedy I'm writing. The premise that I'm working with is the idea that the only way to break down racism is to allow people to see us as we are, for who we are - the notes in my notebook read, "personalize to decolonize."

In the piece I'm writing for my new hour I'm writing about my hope that Stephen Harper's daughter falls in love with a nice Native boy, they start a family & the country lives happily ever after. The Conservative Party does a 360 and the country is saved.

Again, this is a comedy premise. I should have never pulled out the "idea" inside of this premise and used it in an angry, disparaging way. The language in the tweet is not okay.

This was MY mistake.

For this I am sorry.

Who I Am And Who I Am Not

I feel the need to defend myself.

I feel I need to defend myself here because the accusations & assumptions that are being thrown around the internet & likely in personal conversations are false. In the last 4 days I've been inboxed, emailed & tweeted at and called reprehensible names & with these names have come false claims & statements.

I am not a misogynist. I am not a rape sympathizer. I am not a rape culture supporter. I am none of these things and in the past few days I've been called all of these things and worse.

I'm appalled at the name calling & hate that have been thrown towards me over the last couple of days. As "dumb and insensitive" as some comments that were made on my wall under the offending post were, there were as many "dumb and insensitive" comments made about me. 

I've been working in communities in many different contexts for 15 years. I believe I've done good work. I believe I've done valuable work. I've worked hard to bring positive change to people and communities through all work that I do. 

Perhaps most disheartening is that no one emailed me, called me or texted me to ask me what the tweet was about. No one did that. Instead, almost instantly, I was painted as an enemy. I was painted as a monster. I don't believe I am the enemy. I am not a monster.

I think my body of work, who I am & what I've done speaks for itself. Many people make assumptions about me or who I am. To the people that do not know me - take the time to get to know me. To the people that do know me - I hope you feel that same way.

I was given my pipe & the bundle that I carry by women in Treaty#3. The elder that gave me my bundle comes from Onigaming FN. I've been presented gifts & pieces for my bundle by countless aunties & grandmothers for my work that I do with young men in regards to rebuilding our communities as safe places for our women & children.

I've dedicated much of the last 5 years to work specifically with young men, young fathers in particular, to help work towards building healthy families in communities by working with leadership & empowerment practices that I've built over the last 15 years of practice.

It's been implied that I am a loose cannon that doesn't answer to anyone. This is not true. I answer to my family, my community, my teachers & my elders. Some of the public talk that I've seen is that somehow "my teachings & my conduct" are off base. It's offensive to me that people think they can put themselves above the people that have helped me, that have taught me & that walk with me on my journey today.

Why Defend Yourself & Apologize At The Same Time

I already hear the criticism - you can't say sorry AND defend yourself at the same time.

While I think this might be true in most cases - because this has all been done in public, I feel my statements should be on record publicly as well. Public accusations on the internet are on the internet forever - so will the defence of myself be.

I am writing this blog post to apologize for the judgement I used & to be clear about what I stand for.

It is clear that I've made a mistake in posting the offending tweet.

I will continue the work that I'm doing. I will continue to the vitality of our communities. I will continue to fight for justice for Indigenous Peoples. I will continue to write & perform comedy. I will continue to be accountable while doing all of these things.


Thanks for reading this.

To all that are doing important work on the ground, in communities, to help rebuild the health, well being & vitality of our peoples - I am sorry I crossed the line here.

A joke is never just a joke. I have work left to do on myself. I have learned from this. 

I will be including this chapter of my life (the last 4 days) in my keynotes & Youth workshops & presentations. I am unsure of what that will sound like or how it will be presented, but I will share this story in hopes others can learn from it. I will be reaching out to trusted community people to help me package this in the most impactful way I can.

The work continues.

Ryan McMahon

Ryan McMahon