In Milan Kundera’s 1967 novel The Joke, a student named Ludvik in Communist-era Czechoslovakia tries to impress a girl by writing her a postcard that pokes a bit of fun at the super-dreary slogans of the regime. Since he’s an enthusiastic socialist, he figures that everyone will totally get that he’s kidding–until the ruling party kicks him out, subjects him to public scorn and basically ruins his life. Communism, apparently, doesn’t appreciate a sense of humor.
Which brings us to 2017, where life seems to imitate satire more and more each day. Take the Kellyanne Conway Couch Caper, for instance. After being called out for inappropriate leg-tucking whilst in the Oval Office, the presendetial adviser soon became the subject of a joke told by one Cedric Richmond, a Democrat representative from Louisiana:
I really just want to know what was going on there, because, you know, I won’t tell anybody. And you can just explain to me that circumstance, because she really looked kind of familiar in that position there. But, don’t answer, and I don’t want you to refer back to the 1990s.
If this elicited guffaws, they must have come from a sympathetic audience. The joke here is buried so deep that Indiana Jones would have a tough time digging it out of the tomb in which it had been encased. “You know, the 1990s. Bill and Monica? On her knees, on the couch? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.”
Yeah, Cedric. We get it.
Of course Richmond later denied it, using an excuse so lame that Tiny Tim could have run circles around it–but we all know what he meant, and so did he. So did Conway, who had this to say about it:
Asked over text if she thought there would be more media outrage about the comment if she were a liberal woman, Conway told The Daily Caller, “Yes.” She added: “And it is not just if I were a liberal woman, but if I were a pro-abortion one.”
After which Richmond slinked away, his singed tail between his legs.
Now I appreciate a sick burn, probably more than is healthy, but there is also something a bit sad that this is the state we’ve come to in our politics.
So much of what’s wrong can be encapsulated in this particular incident, starting with why Richmond thought it would ever be appropriate to crack such a sexist joke in the first place. It’s simple, really: Like our pal Ludvik, he figured he’d be protected from criticism because he’s a member of the right party. As long as you’re a liberal in good standing, you can feel free to unload all the misogyny that you like–so long as it’s on a conservative woman.
But there’s the complete inability to make any jokes at all (even good ones). We’ve all become so conditioned not to give anything that could even be perceived as offense that we’ve lost alove ability to laugh at ourselves, much less each other. Instead, we’re reduced to policing each other’s statements like spies in our own little Stasi, hoping to intercept some screwup we can use to score cheap political points. It’s all so tedious and exhausting.
Unfortunately, this is what it’s all come to. I wish it weren’t so, but the Left hasn’t given us much choice. With their social media Two-Minute-Hates and demanding the head of anyone who dares utter an off-color remark in an unguarded moment, we as conservatives would be foolish not to make them play by their own rules.
Welcome to the new normal.