David Letterman has come under intense attack from the right over bad jokes he made about Governor Sarah Palin and her daughters. He mentioned Sarah Palin’s “slutty flight attendant look,” which made me laugh because it’s true. Then he made a joke about Alex Rodriguez knocking up Palin’s daughter. To me this is more a comment on Rodriguez’s philandering than on Palin’s daughter.
Letterman has apologized, more or less. He gave the old “misunderstanding” apology. I’m sorry you’re not smart enough to understand what I meant.
I don’t mind if people condemn the jokes as in poor taste, but I don’t support an organized effort to fire David Letterman. The campaign bothers me, and I’ll tell you why. (I have not seen anyone else write about the following. This is the kind of original thinking that keeps you reading the New Clarion.)
As I see it, the right is using the left’s PC thought police tactics against the left. The right is doing to feminists what feminists usually do to the right. In doing so, the right implicitly accepts the premises of feminism and political correctness. They might win this battle, but in the long run they lose the war by accepting the premises of the New Left’s egalitarian isms.
How do conservatives tolerate Rush Limbaugh’s attacks on “feminazis” after this? He makes unfair jokes about women. He says feminism is about empowering ugly women. Isn’t this as bad as calling someone a slutty flight attendant? Satire by its nature exaggerates to make a comic point.
In the long run, this makes it harder for the right to oppose “hate crimes” and other violations of free speech. If the left proposed a “Letterman Law” making it illegal to demean women, how does the right fight this law? How many on the right are disarmed because of their activity against Letterman?
I understand that there is a distinction between citizens voluntarily banding together to boycott or effect some change and the government passing a law against speech. In our statist culture, however, that distinction is easily lost among a lot of people. To the statist mentality, if something is bad, then there oughtta be a law against it. Leftists use PC precisely because they want the state to violate our freedom of speech. You see speech codes in universities, which serve as the vanguard of the left. You see laws against speech in Canada and Europe. If the right is going to use leftist tactics to shut people up, they need to be careful to remind people they support free speech and that the government should stay out. Or maybe, in the spirit of free speech, they should go the extra mile not to shut people up.
All I’m hearing instead is how bad Letterman is.
Another practical consideration: if you attack a broadcaster for saying bad things, as Rush Limbaugh’s opponents should know by now, all you end up doing is giving him publicity. The best way to deal with a comedian whose joke you dislike is not to watch him and make sure none of your money goes to his products.
I’m not defending Letterman, at least not much. His comments do bother me in one respect: he would never in a thousand years liken Michelle Obama to a slutty flight attendant, nor would he make a joke about her daughters getting pregnant. If a writer submitted such a joke, an alarm bell would go off in Letterman’s head. You can’t say that about Michelle Obama! But his conscience doesn’t work that way about Republicans because he lives in the liberal northwest and works in even more liberal show business, where joking about the right is considered perfectly moral — in fact, it is a sign of superior character and judgment. It’s a quick way of showing that you’re cool.