BEAUMONT, Texas — Southeast Texans are having mixed reactions to a controversial comment made by comedian George Lopez about the President and escalating conflict with Iran.
Many have vowed to boycott his show in Beaumont at the Julie Rogers Theatre Friday night.
It started with an Instagram post rumoring an $80 million bounty on President Trump after Iranian General Gassem Soleimani was killed.
Lopez replied, "We'll do it for half."
In response, some in Southeast Texas feel no one should attend his show. Those, like Beaumont city councilman Mike Getz, feel the community needs to send a message.
Others, like Jefferson County democratic party chair candidate Joseph Trahan, think we have bigger things to worry about.
Hector Martinez is a fan of Lopez, and says the comment made about President Trump was just a joke.
Beaumont city councilman Mike Getz feels it's not a party issue, the comment made is simply wrong.
"It's wrong on every level, and every American ought to be opposed to that," he said.
Getz said threatening to assassinate the President is a felony under federal law, and while some may call it a joke, it's not funny.
"There are some things that are just not funny, and this is one of them," Getz said.
He feels the comment will negatively affect Lopez's audience turnout Friday night, and any backlash he gets is deserved.
Getz also wanted to make it clear that the City of Beaumont is not endorsing what Lopez said. The promoter, out of Nashville Tenessee, leased the theatre through the city, and contractually only the promoter and George Lopez himself can cancel it. Still, Getz thinks people should send Lopez a message.
"George Lopez needs to understand that he crossed a line, and in Southeast Texas and in Beaumont the citizens, whether you're Republican or Democrat, do not appreciate a threat to the President of the United States," Getz said.
Trahan agrees, any threat made toward an elected official, no matter what party you're in, is not acceptable, and should be condemned. At the same time, he feels Lopez is a comedian, and he was doing what comedians do.
"They've made tasteless comments for generations, and so by him exercising his first amendment right to be able to come and perform, I see no issue in that, if people choose to not come and support him, that's their right to do so," Trahan said.
Trahan doesn't think Lopez had any intent to actually cause harm to the president, and instead he was simply seeking attention as most entertainers do. He feels that people didn't have the same outrage when similar comments were made about former President Barrack Obama. Trahan drew parallels to a threat made by Ted Nugent toward Hillary Clinton and Obama.
"These same people were silent during the Obama administration when people were calling for his outright lynching, on and off social media," he said.
Trahan feels the controversy over the social media comment is a distraction from the real issues plaguing our local community and nationally, and people should be discussing those instead.
"We have conflicts with Iran, we have 3,000 of our brothers and sisters going overseas, including personal friends of mine, those are the issues we should be discussing, not frivolous comments made by a comedian who's looking to get paid, and get media attention," Trahan said.
Trahan thinks fans of George Lopez won't be swayed not to attend his event by the comment. He wants to see society get to a point in the political atmosphere where people can have honest disagreements and expressions without going to extremes.
Martinez, who lives in Port Arthur, said he thinks he's a great comedian, and a good-hearted guy. He explained that as a comedian, Lopez's livelihood comes from making people laugh.
"With the tensions that are going on right now, I think people need to laugh more, and if anybody sees what he does you know he makes fun of people, that's what he does," Martinez said.
Martinez says all of Lopez's jokes are made in good fun, and that presidents have never been off limits to comedians before, so why should they be now.
"Anybody that takes a comedian serious on things like that, I just don't know what to say about them, bless their hearts."
Many are now selling their tickets on the event's Facebook page.
"I sure want to be there, so hopefully if somebody that's mad at him, just know I'm here, I want to take the tickets, let me know," he said.
Local restaurant and bar owner Frankie Randazzo is offering anyone with a ticket to see George Lopez a free drink in exchange for their ticket at Madison's BarLocal or Rikenjaks. He also explains he has no room for hatred, and invites George Lopez to share a meal and drinks on him, except for crawfish, because 'they are way too expensive right now.'
Getz says the Republican Party of Jefferson County will discuss if and how they want to formally respond to the comment Tuesday night at their headquarters. He says it could come int he form of a resolution, a protest, or a demonstration of support for President Trump. Trahan says the democratic party is looking forward to 2020, and discussing the real issues. He hopes to see the
Republican party do the same.
Representatives with the Julie Rogers Theatre declined to comment on number of tickets sold, but did say they still have them available for purchase.