"We are a civilization built on the concepts of redemption and forgiveness because we want to believe that people can learn from their mistakes and become better people," says Abdul-Jabbar of the comedian fired from Saturday Night Live on Monday over his offensive racist and homophobic jokes. "Had Gillis understood this, he might have survived with his integrity, if not his job." The problem is Gillis' apology -- "I’m happy to apologize to anyone who’s actually offended by anything I’ve said" -- "is distilled from every reality show ever," says Abdul-Jabbar. "Let’s start with his willingness to apologize to anyone 'actually offended.' This is what pretty much every Real Housewife grudgingly says on almost every episode when forced to apologize for bad behavior: 'I apologize if you took offense.' This is not an admission of wrongdoing, but a disingenuous side-eye accusation that the other person took unreasonable umbrage. Gillis’ justification that to be the best he must take risks is what every chef, singer, fashion designer, etc., who competes on a reality show trots out to excuse their failures. Racism isn’t an artistic risk, it’s just an expression of cultural ignorance and professional laziness." Abdul-Jabbar adds that Gillis declaring himself a "comedian who pushes boundaries" is the "weakest of all defenses." "He’s right that artists push boundaries of cultural conventions. Lenny Bruce, Dick Gregory and Richard Pryor were all boundary pushers," says Abdul-Jabbar. "The difference between an artist and an artisan is the artist’s willingness to poke at the audience’s comfort level in an effort to unveil weaknesses, discrepancies and hypocrisies." But, he adds, "we are under no obligation to financially support self-proclaimed 'artists,' like Shane Gillis, whose work promotes hatred toward groups based on ethnicity, gender identity and religion. Gillis’s humor doesn’t so much expand boundaries as shrink them back to where they were in the 1950s. His failure does not mean subjects now should be taboo or that we should not have comedy that offends."