Michael Richards, Know Thyself

“When you go into our lodge room, on the back of the Tiler’s chair are the words “Know thyself”. That’s important. That is the ultimate message to all Masons – to truly know who you are.”
Michael Richards, quoted from the California Freemason, spring, 2003

Understandably, the job of a comedian can be hard to negotiate, but to resort to the type of retort displayed on this Youtube clip is reprehensible and vile. If any atonement is sufficient for Michael Richard’s outburst yesterday at the Laugh Factory, then he owes it to the public and Freemasonry.

His words are inexcusable and a direct correlation of his True Self. The utterance of them is an example of a compromised moral principal. I believe Michael Richards must apologize and then step down from Freemasonry.

To be fair, every Freemason (and person) loses sight of their personal boundary. We are all human, and to err can be divine, but some errors require more than words of penance and condolence. We all live in equally fragile glass houses where none of us are beyond reproach. Confessing ones transgressions is a step in the right direction, but the next, I feel, is to remove yourself from those institutions whose values you have desecrated.

Richards’s words will resonate in the public’s memory at every utterance of his name. But those words, and the person who spoke them, cannot be allowed to represent a moral fraternity by harboring such sentiment.

“Know Thyself” was the lesson to be learned when Richards entered the lodge room, but what looked back in that moral reflection of self was not what he expected. Michael Richards must step down from Freemasonry, or we, as a body, must remove him.

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~ by Greg on November 20, 2006.

8 Responses to “Michael Richards, Know Thyself”

  1. I believe it is much too soon to judge brother Richards. Many of our less known brothers have made mistakes much worse than this and have been allowed to stay. His fame was embraced by our fraternity, and it should not be his downfall.
    To the best of my knowledge, he is a man of good character who made a very poor decision. I see no evidence that this video is “who he is”.
    It seems your view is that he will harm the fraternity. What about our brother? What about our brotherhood?
    Are we to distance ourselves from anyone who falls? Or are we to lift them up?

  2. I understood the implications of this incident after recalling the article with Bro. Michael. I agree with the first poster in that it is certainly to early to judge the situation, hopefully cooler heads will prevail and the knee jerk reaction to rush to judgment is avoided.
    There really is no doubt that the outburst was outside of the norms for acceptable behavior. What is not known is exactly what provoked such an event. Little has been said other than a Gentlemen in the audience playfully heckling Mr. Richards. To me that seems clearly biased and I would seriously doubt that Mr. Richards would agree as he obviously felt extremely distressed. If there is a pattern of behavior and sentiments along these lines then some action could be considered however I doubt that is the case. What’s more likely is that the stresses of being in the spotlight, which are immense in my opinion got to him on that night. Being in the spotlight is literally like being in a cage and to be honest there are envious and sick people out there that get off on rattling people’s cages.
    Bro. Richards should be admonished for his behavior by his brethren. He more than likely is dealing with some internal pressures that need to be healed within him. We all have darkness within us and in our lives, trying to remove him does little to heal the problem and only exclaims our own righteousness. Bringing men together who might otherwise remain at perpetual distance is perhaps the best course.

  3. I agree he must resign. Funny how the racism in the Southern Grand Lodges who all refuse to recognize Black Masons or to allow Black men to join is also overlooked. The two previous posters seem to have the same attitude as most of the Grand Lodges across the country hear no evil, see no evil, do no evil. Ignoring the problems of racism in Masonry is not making the problem go away.

    IT MUST BE DEALT WITH.

  4. I only know that I am shocked and sickened by this. I am also embarassed for him.

    I am not in a position to make any comment at all in terms of his association with Freemasonry.

    As a human being, I am insulted, disgusted and horrified.

  5. I am saddened by what I am reading here. I agree that what Richards did was horrible. I think Richards thinks it is horrible. He has said as much. But he apologized on national television, and has taken steps to make amends for his misdeeds. Forcing him out of Freemasonry for losing his cool is counter to the principles of our fraternity. HE IS OUR BROTHER and doesn’t stop being our brother just because he screws up. Especially when he is remorseful and willing to atone.

    It is unmasonic behavior. Yep. Does he deserve the 33rd? Clearly not, though in fairness, the blame for that must rest with those who bestowed that honor on him. I don’t pretend to know what the criteria for bestowing the 33rd on a man is, but simply coroneting a Mason simply becasue he is a celebrity is risky risky behavior. But I digress.

    Richards is not a cuddly person. But at the end of the day this isn’t about him. It is about us. If Michael Richards wasn’t Kramer no one would care. No one is condemning the person who shot the video illegally. No one has ciritcized the hecklers for heckling. Those same hecklers have now decided that they are entitled to financial compensation and are retaining a lawyer. Nice. No one is blameless. No one is perfect.

    If we are going to require anyone who displays racist behavior to step down from the Fraternity, there are a lot of brothers in the US right now who should be at risk. We more than anyone need to look past his celebrity and see him as he really is…a man who lost his temper and used poor judgement.

    To that extent we condemn the behavior and extend our hand and fraternal love to our brother and help him redeem himself. He has a long road ahead of him and though I am not a fan of Richards I believe that if he is willing to strive to abide by his Obligation and rebuild his shattered Temple, we should be there to help and support him. I would hope that at a time of crisis like this my brothers were there for me. I believe he regrets his action. I believe if he could go back in time and take it back he would. There is an opportunity here to turn something terrible and tragic inot something beautiful and redeeming.

    I don’t object to a trial, nor to masonic punishment. Censure in lodge would be appropriate. It would send a signal to the world that we do not tolerate racist behavior. But summarily expelling a guy who made a stupid mistake and who immediately tried to apologize for it (he went back 2 hours later) is just cruel. Is Richards redeemable? If not, then he should never have been allowed in, and those guarding the West Gate should share in the responsibility.

    Now if he does it over and over, if he becomes the Bobby Knight of racist behavior, then that is a different story. But for now, we should hold our sanctimony, extend a charitable hand and govern ourselves like the Freemasons WE are. We condemn the behavior. We condemn racism. We stand ready to help the man build a Temple free of such tragic flaws. The rest is up to him.

  6. brother richards also attacked some customers earlier in the year as jews. So, he’s spewed anti-semetic and Black hatred.
    A pattern? Should it rationalized away?
    Brothers, we now live in the 21st century and all KNOW that using the N word to belittle another human is wrong. Period.
    as a mason as well as a non initiated. That type of behavior would not be tolerated by anyone brother of the human race, but we as masons, should tolerate it, not once but twice!
    So whether hating jews or blacks, he has set a pattern and needs to get help, from professionals, not masons.
    It should be deemed worse that a mason did this.

  7. I agree with Bro. Diamond and if I might use a very respected author we all are fond of to support our fraternal obligation to Bro. Richards I post “So many Rascals!” by Bro. Claudy in Old Tiler Talks. It is a very appropriate piece to refer to for all of the Craft.

    “SO MANY RASCALS!

    Why are there so many rascals in the Fraternity, and
    why don’t we turn them out?” asked the New Brother.

    “You remind me,” answered the Old Tiler, “of the
    recalcitrant witness whom the prosecuting attorney
    could not get to answer his questions without a
    categorical ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ ‘I can’t answer them that way,’
    the witness protested. ‘All questions can be answered
    that way!’ stormed the prosecuting attorney. ‘All right,’
    came back the witness, like a flash, ‘you answer me
    this: Have you stopped beating your wife yet?’ Of
    course the prosecuting attorney couldn’t answer that
    ‘yes’ or ‘no’ without admitting that he did beat his wife.
    And I can’t answer your question without admitting
    that there are so many rascals in the Fraternity, when
    I know there are not!”

    “You know what I mean!” continued the New Brother.
    “There are a lot of fellows in Freemasonry who have
    no business there. How did they get there and why
    don’t we turn them out?”

    “But do we know it? I have been tiling this lodge for a
    great many years. I know every man in it, many of
    them personally. I can’t call to mind a single rascal.
    Even when I think hard I can’t remember a single
    Mason among them all I’d like to see put out, can
    you?”

    “I sure can! I know half a dozen I’d like to see out of
    this lodge!” answered the New Brother.

    “Without telling me their names, you might mention
    one or two and tell me what they have done to you,”
    suggested the Old Tiler.

    “I didn’t say they had done anything to me,”
    answered the New Brother. “One man I have in mind
    has no business in this organization. He swears
    horribly. He is rough and uncouth. He doesn’t ‘belong.’
    I’d like to see him out.”

    “You mean O’Rourke, the Irishman? Why, man alive,
    he’s one of our prize exhibits! A protestant Irishman is
    pretty rare anyhow, and when you have a two-fisted
    fighting variety like Paddy you certainly are off on the
    wrong foot. Suppose he does swear? Have you no
    fault which is as bad? Uncouth? What has that got to
    do with it? Paddy is there with brotherhood; he’ll fight
    for or nurse you, lend to you or borrow from you, work
    for you or with you, imagine anyone wanting Paddy
    out of the lodge.”

    “I didn’t know all that,” the New Brother excused
    himself. “There is another man; maybe I can describe
    him so you won’t know him. He is very close with his
    money and he doesn’t want the lodge to spend
    money. I don’t say he is crooked, although I have
    heard stories about his business deals which looked
    queer. No one ever got the best of him in a deal. Men
    like that ought not to be in the great fraternity we
    have, which is supposed to be all virtue and open-
    handed giving.”

    “You talk like a book that was scrambled when it was
    written,” retorted the Old Tiler. “I know perfectly well
    the man you mean. That’s Taylor. I won’t defend
    Taylor’s reputation, because it’s not a nice one.

    Taylor’s young wife died when he didn’t have money
    enough to send her west and ever since he has
    worshipped money, because it could have given him
    the one thing he wanted. Taylor is not a rascal; he is
    as honest as you. But he is exceedingly shrewd and
    he doesn’t make any deals which don’t come out his
    way. As for his not wanting to spend lodge money, do
    you?”

    “Of course I do.”

    “Well, there you are. He doesn’t, you do. You do, he
    doesn’t. Neither attitude is rascally; it’s just difference
    of opinion. He thinks our money should be saved, you
    think it should be spent. He is a smarter man than I
    am, or you are. But none of those things make him a
    rascal. In fact, now I think about it, there is only one
    man in our lodge who might be put out with benefit to
    the lodge!”

    “I thought you said there was none!”

    “I have just recalled one. He’s a nice enough fellow on
    the surface, too. Good looking and decent appearing.
    But he carries a concealed weapon., which is against
    the law.”

    “Why don’t you prefer charges against him?” asked
    the New Brother.

    “It’s not that kind of weapon,” smiled the Old Tiler. It’s
    a verbal knife with which he stabs innocent people in
    the back. He hasn’t very much sense and so he goes
    off half-cocked and shoots off his face before he
    knows what he is talking about. He sees evil where
    there is an appearance of evil instead of looking below the surface. He cannot see leaves for the trees
    or the waves because there is so much water. And he
    hasn’t yet learned several Masonic lessons, such as
    tolerance and brotherly love, even though he has
    been regularly initiated, passed, and raised. He was
    Masonically vaccinated, but the virus didn’t take. I
    don’t want to see the brother put out of the lodge,
    because there is good in him. I’d rather see him stay
    here and learn. But if you really feel that he ought not
    be on our lodge I’ll show you how to do something no
    man in all this lodge has ever done before.”

    “I’m afraid I don’t quite understand…I’m afraid I do
    understand… I’m afraid…”

    “Don’t be afraid, boy. That spoils it all!” cried the Old
    Tiler. “If you think this brother of whom I speak ought
    not be among us, prefer charges against yourself.
    That will make you a reputation and get rid of a
    narrow-minded and intolerant Mason. But if you think
    this brother can learn, I’m willing to forget I ever heard
    him speak of any of his brethren as rascals and…”

    “…and try to remember that even a fool can be cured,
    if he has an Old Tiler for a doctor!” the New Brother
    finished the sentence for him.”

    End

    The Brotherhood we are obliged to support is what the “profane” find fault with many times over. This was a sad thing for our brother to do but isn’t he distressed? We all know the length of our cable tow. Who will help?

  8. I am a northern Mason whose lodge merged with prince hall lodges in the 90s, I do not condone the behaviour of our brother, however, this incident should not be cause to expell him from the fraternaty period. He made a mistake and has apologized. I believe his photo should be taken down from all the halls where he is honoured in sight of our guests as he has brought shame and fueled the anti masonic writers to continue their uninformed attacks on masonic racism as a tenent of the fraternaty. I would hope that Bro Richards would apologize to the fraternity as well.

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