Louis C.K.’s Return to Comedy Sparks Debate: Are #MeToo Perpetrators Redeemable?

On 'The Ingraham Angle,' a suggestion that release from this purgatory is audience-determined — with conditions

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Comedian Louis C.K. received a standing ovation on Sunday night at New York’s Comedy Cellar, when he resumed his professional activities in a surprise performance following a nine-month, #MeToo-related hiatus.

Related: He’s Baaack: Louis C.K. Performs for First Time Since Admitting to Sexual Misconduct

“The question is, how long do you have to stay in #MeToo purgatory?” asked Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo Wednesday night on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”

Answering his own question, Arroyo said, “My sense is, you have to have a public contrition. You need to be called out and shamed publicly, I think. But then it’s up to the audience.”

“These guys can put their toes in the water and see if the audience will accept them. My guess is, they won’t,” he added.

Arroyo and host Laura Ingraham discussed another rumored comeback from #MeToo purgatory, that of the “Today” show’s former anchor Matt Lauer. Fans of Lauer and others he worked with at “Today” go way back — and some might be unaware of his recent shameworthy exploits, they noted.

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Comedian Kathy Griffin, who herself experienced quite a backlash after posing with a simulated severed head of the president, weighed in on C.K.’s return, attributing its reception — albeit controversial — with his gender and race.

BuzzFeed News reporter Scaachi Koul supported Griffin’s contention that C.K.’s and others’ “effortless returns highlight a double standard for women comics.” Koul’s contention is that comics like Griffin and Samantha Bee, whose misdeeds were less severe than those of C.K. and Aziz Ansari, are relinquished to apologize in perpetuity.

Koul says the return of men accused during in the heyday of #MeToo is “unnecessary.”

“Bee and Griffin have had to beg for the public’s forgiveness over and over again; the men, meanwhile, just have to sit out for a few months,” Koul observed.

C.K.’s #MeToo moment arose last November when five women came forward and accused him of sexual misconduct — to which he admitted.

FX Networks ended its partnership with him in the wake of the revelation, and indie film distributor The Orchard canceled the theatrical release of his film, “I Love You, Daddy,” according to Rolling Stone.

The content of the controversial film mimicked that of the very real sexual impropriety of which Louis was accused—pleasuring himself in the live and telephonic presence of women who had not granted him permission.

One Twitter respondent to The New York Times’ story on Louis’ return asked the question with which all of Hollywood — and many Americans — are grappling in the age of #MeToo.

What is an appropriate period of time for those accused or convicted of #MeToo-related crimes or behaviors to remain in professional seclusion?

Take a look at the discussion on “The Ingraham Angle” — then see the tweets below:

“There can’t be a permanent life sentence on someone who does something wrong,” Noam Dworman, owner of the Comedy Cellar, told The New York Times.

Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to LifeZette.

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