Jon Stewart has a punch line for almost everything — but he sees nothing funny about what's happening in America right now. The Daily Show host was in no mood to tell jokes on Wednesday, Dec. 3, after news broke that a grand jury had decided not to indict the NYPD officer involved in the July choking death of Eric Garner.
Stewart was visibly distraught as he tried to articulate his thoughts about the decision, which sent shock waves through New York and sparked protests all over the city. (Demonstrators staged a "die-in" at Grand Central Station, and also convened in Times Square and Union Square, among other places.)
"I don't know. I honestly don't know what to say," Stewart began his show, which taped shortly after the news was announced. "If comedy is tragedy plus time, I need more f---ing time, but I would really settle for less f---ing tragedy, to be honest with you."
He went on to discuss the specifics of the Eric Garner case, which made headlines when video of the fatal confrontation surfaced online. (As seen in the now-infamous clip, Garner repeatedly told police he could not breathe after he was put in a chokehold.)
"You know, I think what is so utterly depressing is that none of the ambiguities that existed in the Ferguson case [with Michael Brown] exist in the Staten Island case," Stewart elaborated. "And yet, the outcome is exactly the same. No crime, no trial, all harm, no foul. In Ferguson, at least you had conflicting witness testimony, you had conflicting forensics, you had the specter, at least, of police self-defense."
"But here," he continued, "there is none of that. The coroner called it a homicide. The guy's not acting threatening, and we know that not through witness testimony, unreliable bystanders, but because we are f---ing watching it. Someone taped it."
Noting the government's recent proposal of video cameras on cop vests, he said, "I mean, maybe, to look at the bright side, we're about to save ourselves a s---load of money on cop camera vests. But damn. We are definitely not living in a post-racial society, and I can imagine there are a lot of people out there wondering how much of a society we're living in at all."