During a promo clip for a new episode of her Hulu series, I Love You, America, Sarah Silverman addressed Louis C.K.'s sexual misconduct. Her comments come one week after The New York Times published a report featuring allegations from five women that C.K. had masturbated, or asked to masturbate, in front of them in various workplace capacities. Shortly afterward, C.K. admitted his wrongdoing via a statement from his then-publicist, Lewis Kay, and confirmed these stories were true. In her cold open, Silverman said it's been a particularly difficult revelation for her to come to terms with, as she's counted C.K. as one of her best friends for more than 25 years — a fact that, understandably, has left her feeling intensely conflicted.
She explained that she felt outraged for the women he wronged and the culture that enabled it, but also sad, because he is, nonetheless, her friend. She said:
I could couch this with heartwarming stories of our friendship and what a great dad he is — but that’s totally irrelevant, isn’t it? Yes, it is. It’s a real mind f*ck, you know, because I love Louis. But Louis did these things. Both of those statements are true, so I just keep asking myself, "Can you love someone who did bad things? Can you still love them?"
Ultimately, though, she concluded that the victims are who matter most, and no matter how personally taxing the situation may be, she believes in accountability, action, and change. She continued:
I can mull that over later, certainly, because the only people that matter right now are the victims. They are victims, and they’re victims because of something he did. ... I believe with all my heart that this moment in time is essential. It’s vital that people are held accountable for their actions, no matter who they are. We need to be better. We will be better. I can’t f*cking wait to be better.
It's a response that feels both strikingly honest and deeply human.
Silverman doesn't mention to what extent she knew about the accusations, which span back as far as 2002, or if she'd spoken to C.K. about them previously. Rumors surrounding the comedian have been circulating for several years, but, in the past, he'd publicly denied them, and it seems as though the news came as a surprise to many, even those that were closest to him. Jon Stewart, a noted friend of C.K.'s, told The Today Show that he was "stunned," and, though he had previously asked C.K. about the allegations, had been assured that they were false. Pamela Adlon, C.K.'s longtime collaborator, reiterated similar sentiments in past interviews, and, in the wake of the Times' exposé, said in a statement that she was "devastated" and "grieving," but that his behavior was "abhorrent."
It's not difficult, then, to sympathize with where they may be coming from. This is a man they respected, a man they trusted, a man they loved, and to find out that he is not the person they may have thought he was would certainly leave them at odds with their emotions. Often, we want to believe the best in people, and, even when presented with damning evidence, it can be hard to reconcile who they are with who we wanted them to be.
C.K.'s misconduct is, of course, not about his friends' reactions to it, but the women that he admittedly violated, and the systemic, deep-seated abuse it represents. Still, their voices matter, and especially so for people like Silverman, Adlon, and Stewart — all visible, influential figures whose platforms have the power to reach a wide audience, and in turn, to make a necessary difference. They may still be processing, but it's crucial — and commendable — that they speak out now.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.