While activists chastise Dave Chappelle for his SNL comedy monologue, Sam Bankman-Fried gets a softball feature on his $16 billion Ponzi scandal

Dr. Leon R. Koziol, J.D.

Citizen Commission Against Corruption, Inc.

Antisemitism activists were quick to condemn long time comedian Dave Chappelle for his SNL monologue this week, one that referenced Kanye West and Kyrie Irving. Meanwhile the New York Times did a softball story on breaking news of a $16 billion Ponzi scandal committed by 29-year-old crypto currency mastermind Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF).

According to the New York Post, at least one top financial regulator, Sheila Bair, compared the SBF scandal to the $65 billion Ponzi scheme of Bernie Madoff. But the latter was carried out over a period of years while the current one was completed virtually overnight. In a matter of days, reported assets of FTX, Bankman-Fried’s exchange firm, fell from $16 billion to zero leaving investors without recourse.

It would be expected that regulators learned a lesson from the 2008 Madoff tragedy with greatly improved oversight. Madoff succeeded by courting both sides of the aisle as chairman of NASDAQ and trader of fraudulent holdings. SBF did the same by using other people’s money in worthless crypto investments to make campaign donations to Democrats. Also, like Madoff, greed ruled the process when SBF targeted his main competitor, Changpeng Zhao and his exchange firm Binance. That set off an announced withdrawal of SBF-FTX investments by Zhao that led to the collapse.

The New York Times endeavored to frame this catastrophe as a bad business move, but that slant collapsed just as quickly when news of SBFs attempts to move his failed enterprise to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, (UAE) was made known. That country is one of the few that has no extradition treaty with the United States. Much more telling was the lack of accountability regarding the $16 billion void in reported assets as regulators swarmed to a futile rescue of defrauded victims.

The shock which spread across the nation in 2008 regarding the comparable void in Madoff assets was met with a front-page analysis in the Wall Street Journal that depicted Madoff as “the Jewish connection.” Indeed, Bernie Madoff betrayed no moral fiber as he stole from Jewish and Gentile investors alike. Most contemptable was his audacity to swindle Jewish charity groups and research institutions. Even at Madoff’s death behind bars, there were no sources to reimburse such victims.

So history now repeats itself with the protege learning the chicanery of his virtual mentor to achieve the glitz popularized in the blockbuster film, Wall Street. But once again, this is no fictional work by Stephen King. It’s a real-life American tragedy that ruined entire lives. Such tragedies could be averted with reliable protections for whistleblowers, however, that utopian world is sabotaged by those who profit from free speech abuses. Reporters duly qualified to expose these catastrophes are subjugated and even exiled by the beneficiaries of these trillion-dollar industries that employ highly influential special interests and lobby groups.

The censorship has now extended to comedy such as that displayed by Dave Chappelle this past weekend. A viewing of his tip-toe monologue reveals nothing earth-shattering. Nevertheless, it managed to elicit oversensitive reactions to the kind of humor championed by Lewis Black, Lenny Bruce, Chris Rock and George Carlin. Like cancel culture, our First Amendment values have been steadily eroded to facilitate that new world order of mind control. Anything that fails to conform with the views of this ordered society is demeaned as stupid, terrorizing and otherwise removable from any town square platform.

The question then becomes, who is the idyllic referee to rule upon acceptable and offensive speech? And what standards can be agreed upon that would permit the kind of quotes attributed to Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson to make our rights possible in the first place? An example of today’s misguided nature of public discourse is the pompous commentary of Charles Barkley reacting to the ongoing suspension of NBA superstar Kyrie Irving:

Appearing Monday on CNN This Morning, the vocal TNT analyst (Charles Barkley) said the Brooklyn Nets “rightfully” suspended the point guard, who posted (a) link to an antisemitic film on Twitter.

“People have the right to feel and say what they want to,” Barkley said. “We have freedom of speech, but there are repercussions when you say certain things.”

Barkley believes people are trying to get away with saying terrible things by using freedom of speech as a defense.

“This thing with free speech has really gotten out of hand,” he added. “You can’t go around insulting people and think it’s OK just because it’s freedom of speech.”

When asked about “cancel culture,” Barkley said he doesn’t like seeing people losing their jobs. However, he noted that few people truly get “canceled” and said someone should “be called to the carpet” when saying something offensive.

“You should be called out if you said something stupid. Hey, I’ve been called out many times. I have no problem with that.”

Two weeks ago, Barkley said the NBA “dropped the ball” by not suspending Irving. He lamented that the TNT crew was “talking about this idiot” instead of basketball.

Author Leon Koziol, J.D.

Dr. Leon Koziol is a civil rights advocate who practiced law for more than two decades in federal and state courts. He appeared on the CBS program 60 Minutes for his defense of landowners targeted for eviction by native-American tribes alleging violations of ancient treaties. As an upstate New York city corporation counsel, he secured a federal court verdict invalidating a mayoral gag order.

Relevant case citations include, Koziol v Hanna, 107 F.2d 170 (NDNY 2000); Patterson v City of Utica, 370 F.3d 322 (2nd Cir.2004); Oneida Indian Nation v County of Oneida, 132 F. Supp. 2d 71 (NDNY); Peterman v Pataki, 2004 NY Slip Op 51092(U) and Parent v State, 786 F. Supp. 2d 516 (NDNY 2011).

The latter was a consolidated case intended as a class action on behalf of victimized parents in divorce and family courts. It was part of the author’s bold challenge to judicial and sovereign immunity which led to severe retributions upon his law licenses and parent-child relationships. The horrific ordeal which led to a near death climax in 2020 was captured in his book, Whistleblower in Paris, published in 2021.

Dr. Koziol can be contacted directly at leonkoziol@gmail.com and (315) 796-4000.